Staying Grounded: No One Likes a Diva!

Recently, the internet was all abuzz after a well-known actress got arrested for disorderly conduct in Atlanta. The attention she received was not largely attributed to her drunken stumbling. Rather, it was because she allegedly asked the police officer who’d stopped her and her husband if he knew who she was and if he understood what he was getting into by getting her in trouble. The story spread like wildfire, to say the least. Even though everyone likes to read about “divas” in Hollywood, it’s not because they’re so endearing . . . but because they’re so appalling.

The chances are slim you’ve ever done anything like that—you’re simply trying to get your foot in the door, and you’re thankful for every opportunity that comes your way. However, as doors get opened to you and more and more opportunities come your way, it’s important to remember to stay grounded. Part of the appeal of Hollywood is the fame, fortune, and celebrity—and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be recognized for your talent. The problem begins when you start treating others as if you’re better than them and forgetting where you came from.

Hollywood is a collaborative process from the bottom up. Films have producers, directors, studios, crew and actors. There are agents and publicists and lawyers and managers. Below it all are the assistants and interns. All of these people keep the factory wheels turning, but it’s mainly actors that get the spotlight—mainly because they’re the “face” of your favorite films and television shows. As you start your career, it’s essential to keep how collaborative the entertainment industry is in mind. As you move forward, there’s really only one specific thing to remember –be kind, be considerate, and treat anyone you come into contact with as you’d like to be treated.

From being grateful for what your agent does for you to recognizing the the work of the assistants who move your auditions, it’s important as a fledgling artist in this industry to be aware and make sure your team and everyone you work with—whether casting director or the grip on your very first pilot—know that you’re appreciative of the opportunities you have, because there are many actors that would do anything to be in your position. Don’t be late to things, don’t move around your appointments unless it’s absolutely necessary, go in on everything (to a certain degree), meet anyone and everyone you can. You also never know who today’s assistant might be in ten years—they could run a studio or network, or they could be the next big casting director. Hollywood is incestuous and revolving and today’s peons are tomorrow’s bigwigs.

As your career grows and you’re faced with the realization that this might be the Big Break, life changes rapidly. You suddenly have a publicist, a stylist, a car to take you to and from events. There may even be fans and award shows and paparazzi. If you were kind and followed the “be nice” rule through the beginning of your career, it’s really a challenge to maintain it. Celebrities of any level are put on pedestals, and it’s easy to forget where you came from. You have to remember though, that if you’re lucky enough to have fans . . . there’s many of them, but only one of you. They may seem all the same to you, but to them you might be the best part of their year. On the business side of things, reporters can make or break your career: no matter how annoying those cameras are in front of your face, it’s best to be pleasant, and to remember that if you treat them and engage them as peers, they will see you more like a peer and may back off.

For now though, you’re working your way up the ladder—co-stars, guest stars, testing for pilots, being an extra in the new Scorsese film–so there’s time to worry about fame and fortune if and when it ever comes. It’s never a detriment to be too nice, if you know how to use it to your advantage. Just like Grandma used to say, “Kill them with kindness!” because you never know how one positive interaction with someone could make them think of you for something in the future.

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tara McGrath started her career in entertainment mainly because she couldn't see a life where she wasn't surrounded and inspired by actors in some way or another. After graduating from SUNY Purchase's Conservatory of Theatre Arts and Film with a degree in Screenwriting, she worked for a year at Roundabout Theatre Company in New York. Interning under their casting department with casting directors Carrie Gardner and Jim Carnahan, she assisted in casting such productions as Spring Awakening, American Idiot and Fox's hit show, Glee. From there she moved 3,000 miles to Los Angeles and for the last year has been working for a well-known boutique talent agency in West Hollywood. She has also worked as a reader and marketing assistant for the Blue Cat Screenwriting Competition and has worked on independent features as both producer's assistant and P.A.

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