Sorry about the day late blog post! I have been extremely busy running around like a headless chicken to all of my various jobs. I also think my head has been a bit scrambled by the heat we’re experiencing at the moment! Blimey. I honestly feel like I am on holiday (however, very much without the air con in our bedroom). Saying that, it is rather nice to be able to enjoy some sun for once and maybe even get a bit of a tan!
Recently I have been reading about various negative experiences actors have unfortunately been going through. It’s heartbreaking to see so many actors being taken advantage of by industry “professionals”. This is why it’s so important that you vote in the Equity Committee Elections. Equity are here to help and make the industry a fair and safe environment. Personally, I feel that it’s vile that here we stand in the year 2017 and our industry is still a very unequal and prejudiced place. For the majority, the industry is full of amazing people who treat actors very well. It’s just upsetting to hear that not everyone is like that.
One of the most recent incidents I have read about was an actor who was offered a touring job with a South American touring company. The company promised that travel and accommodation would be paid for and they informed the actor how much they would receive for the the tour. They asked for passport information and a health certificate, which the actor happily provided. The health certificate the actor provided did inform the company that the actor was currently on anti-depressants for depression. The company quickly came back to the actor and suggested that due to them being on anti-depressants they should not tour with them that year. (This right here is an immediate red flag for me!) The actor informed the company that they were fit and well and they were coming off the anti-depressants. The actor told the company they were able to provide them with a letter to confirm this information. The actor spent more money on a letter and sent it off to the company, which then put everything back on track. Obviously, the actor was preparing for touring – learning lines, handing in their notice at their resting job, even turning down another acting job and arranging for someone to rent their room whilst they would be away on the tour.
The actor was then emailed by the company to inform them that the director would be flying over to London for an unpaid workshop weekend a month before they were due to be flying out. (Why would the director be coming over for an unpaid workshop I do not know?) The actor said that the workshop went well, however, it was very confusing as it looked like they were actually auditioning people for another group as well as the existing group. The company assured the existing group that their group was safe. (All very odd right?) After the workshop the actor took part in a Q and A and asked some questions about the contract, such as payment and accommodation. The company did not seem to understand as they did not speak English very well and suggested that the actor contact their admin person, as he would be able to answer questions. They also took the actor aside and asked again if they would be fit to travel. They even asked the actor “What if you have a breakdown?” The actor assured them that they were fine. (I actually cannot believe that the company even asked that question, how awful. Surely their understanding of English was also very questionable at this point. If they were able to ask the actor if they were fit to travel but not answer questions about the tour itself, that’s another red flag for me!)
The actor emailed the admin person with their questions and did not receive a clear answer back, which they put down to a language barrier. They even asked about receiving a contract with the answers to their questions in and were told that they needed to wait for the director to return from their holiday before their questions could be answered. (What?! This doesn’t even make sense, why would the company say this to the actor when they had already spoken to the director in the workshop?)
The rest of the cast then received documents and this particular actor received nothing. They emailed again about not receiving any documents and they were ignored. (Disgusting). The other cast members emailed the actor the documents that the company had sent out, which were all written in Spanish and the actor had to send them off to be translated. In the meantime the rest of the company had received more documents and music regarding the tour and the actor had yet again received nothing. They emailed again and were told once more that they had to wait until the director returned from their holiday for their questions to be answered. The actor received the translated documents back from a Spanish Lawyer who informed them that the documents were not a proper work contract and that if they were his child they would ban them from going on this tour. (This is just obscene. Why this company feels like they can get away with this I do not know!)
The rest of the cast received e-tickets for the flights abroad and the actor received nothing. They sent various emails to which they received no reply and were ignored yet again. The actor eventually received an email from the director which basically said “I hear you are dissatisfied with how we do things”… (I am literally aghast.)
The company flew out and the actor did not. The touring company then had the audacity to email the actor to ask whether they would fly out and fill the place of another actor who had to leave. As you can imagine, the actor declined this offer.
It later came to the attention of the actor, that the actors the touring company had hired did not have agents. The actors had not had anyone to read through their contracts for them and check that they were legitimate.
You should always read your contracts thoroughly as you never know what you are getting yourself in for unless you read it and get it checked out. If you do receive a contract that you’re not sure about show your agent. If you don’t have an agent and you’re a member of Equity they will happily check the contract for you. Another very important factor here is that you should never let anyone take advantage of you or put you at a disadvantage because of mental health issues.
If I was the actor in this situation I would 100% be reporting this company to Equity. Absolutely vile.
I must admit, sometimes I do think to myself, that if I was in an audition and I had a hypo, would a company discard me due to me being a “liability” or “unreliable”? I would like to think not. Fortunately, I have never myself received any discrimination due to my Diabetes. This is exactly how it should be. You should never be taken advantage of, discriminated or prejudiced for something that is beyond your control.
Let’s hope that there will be a day where this will never happen to actors. We need equality.