Laidig Out Loud: What Do We Want Our Creatives To Be?

If award ceremonies are now political platforms, creatives are the new activist.

So the industry must be under reform, right? Every creative’s social media is now another PR outlet for causes they fund or represent, because if you’re not an activist, you’re not doing your job as a creative or, more specifically, an actor.

Ergo, if you are a creative, you must also be an activist, because that is now a new bullet point in the job description. It isn’t enough to have the drive, or be bitten by ‘the bug’. The act alone of wanting to bring stories and characters to life that might otherwise not see the light of day is meagre in comparison to the work of social movements – they’re the ones making the real change, catalysing real progress, not fannying about in front of a camera.

Yet if an actor has something even vaguely close to an opinion and dare to share it, they’re shut down, because what the hell do they know? Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, but not them, of all people, they’ll devalue the cause!

But by having large public platforms, with global access, it’s expected to be used to bring awareness.

Well except actors – who wants to be preached to by the newest face of an expensive brand?

…But also actors, because their job is also to inform and diversify their chosen industry!

Alright, back in your pram, Sarky Laidig.

Something that has been gnawing at me for the last few years is the woeful misunderstanding of how the arts industry works, especially when it comes to the role of an actor in the creative process. Whether it’s the lack of diversity within a cast, or whitewashing a storyline, it’s almost always taken out on the absolute last piece of the puzzle: the actor(s), when in reality, the attention needs to be directed higher up the food chain.

No, not the director, much higher.

Not even casting, look higher still.

Execs.

Executive producers make or break a production, and film execs are the worst of all. In the States, insiders will say that box office films will cater to the bible belt – problem number one if you dare to go against the norm. Two, even if your casting department secure a cast across all shades and sizes of the human race, execs will be the ones to say “I don’t like this one, bring me another”, and to save the project being left on the shelf to collect dust, most will oblige the request (Deadpool took 11 years to make, and Behind the Candleabra was deemed “too gay” for US cinema. Don’t get me started on ethnicity and women).

Drama schools are churning out more actors than there is work, that they have become dispensable. Add into the mix that the more ‘avant-garde’ of storylines (anything other than hetero-normative) are rarely given the greenlight, and those that are will never cast unknowns in lead roles, no matter how ‘unique’ they are (again, anything other). Now apply the added pressure of audience demand for more varied anything, while remembering that the execs control what you see.

This doesn’t even scratch the surface on what really drives me nuts about screen-audience relations, but never before has an actor’s activist credentials mattered so much! Then again, it wasn’t originally used as another method of marketing. It used to signal a career dive – now, it seems to attract audiences by the bucket load. And they’re lapping it up in their droves.

But is that what we want in an actor? Are they no longer mere storytellers, but representatives of something bigger? Does an actor’s activist credentials affect your personal film/show choice? Does it lend to a more believable performance? Can you enjoy their work even when their cause/religion/beliefs oppose your own?

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Thoughts?

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