By Bruce Edwin
Sylvester Stallone was initially told by a producer that they would make his movie, but that he could not star in it, and could only have a small role. Even though he was broke, he held out. After being rejected many, many times, he finally got a yes. The legendary film ‘Rocky’ was the result of his perseverance, and his vision as an artist. The story of Sylvester Stallone is a great example of how to succeed in Hollywood despite any odds.
The following is free, ongoing advice to models, actors, and musicians from talent manager Bruce Edwin, CEO of Starpower Management, who has worked with hundreds of models, actors and bands, interviewed thousands, and works regularly with major pop, rock, movie, and T.V. stars and their teams as a producer and publisher.
I keep reporting on more about this subject, for three reasons. One, there is simply so much regarding this area to cover, as words are so plentiful. Secondly, words are so powerful, that a few wrong words can mean the difference between a long term business relationship, and never hearing from that person again. Future successes can actually be made or broken contingent merely upon a few small words. And thirdly, I keep coming back to this area because I experience time and time again, actors, models, and musicians make yet another mistake that I have not written about, that I do not want to see you repeat if I can help you.
Let’s start with power dynamics. Now, I am not going to digress in to linguistics, political control theories, or the like. Instead, I will do my best to simplify this in the easiest way for anyone to understand. And that is, many people in power are control freaks. Therefore, if you are talking with an agent or manager, casting director, or even producer, or trying to get to talk to them, you have to remember this. Now, this is where the problem usually lies, because most actors, models, and musicians I have met similarly – due either to their great talent, beauty, insecurity, vulnerability, or perhaps all of the above, are similarly desirous of being very controlling. Consequently, you must constantly ask yourself;
WHAT WORDS, BEHAVIOR, AND ATTITUDE WILL HAVE THE MOST POSITIVE EFFECT FOR ME AND MY CAREER IN THE LONG TERM, DURING THIS CIRCUMSTANCE, TO GET WHAT I WANT?
I recently spoke with a model, and nearly every other word out of her mouth was ‘of course.’ Imagine a conversation going something like this, “Do you have tearsheets?” “Of course! You know, I mean, I know I need them and all, but I can get them, that’s not a problem.” Wrong answer. Aside from the fact that one cannot just go make tearsheets- they have to get hired to get them created. “O.K., can you bungee jump and sky dive?” “Of course! Of course I’m afraid of heights though, I wouldn’t actually like do it though you know, you can like get me a stunt double of course…” You get the point. The words ‘of course’ usually are not of course, not a known, for the words ‘of course’ signifies that something that should be clear and obvious. If something is clear and obvious to the questioner, then they would not ask the question to begin with. So, to say the words ‘of course’ will unconsciously effect the questioner negatively, whether they realize it or not.
Another scenario is someone asking you, “Do you have actoral training?” You may reply, “Of course!” Well, actually, it may have been an ‘of course’ to you, an obvious thing to you, but to the person asking the question, it was not apparent, it was not ‘of course’ to them, or otherwise they would not have asked you ‘of course!’ Got it? So, of course (just kidding), that is one simple thing that you can do to create a better energy flow between you and the person asking you questions. Do not say ‘of course,’ and do not come off with the attitude that their question is an obvious one. That attitude will make it sound as if you are arrogant, and perceive others as stupid. This may even be the case, but don’t let others know it! Instead, act welcoming of all questions, even the most silly, obvious, or even offensive questions, think momentarily about them in order to compose or state your words in the most intelligent, polite, successful way possible, and then answer with warmth and a smile.
Can’t Trust It – Don’t Go
Girls, do not go on any casting, audition, go see, open call, cattle call, photo shoot, or meeting unless you either know and trust the booker or agency who booked it, or know and trust the photographer. Regardless, always use good sense and if you do not feel safe, then call and let your agent or manager know. If you booked it yourself and do not feel safe, then have a tough male friend wait in the car for you nearby (don’t try bring them in the meeting or on the shoot location, and don’t try drive them on a studio lot). If you don’t have a guy friend to bring and don’t feel safe going, then don’t go.
Always bring your cell phone with you, and keep it on vibrate. This seems obvious, but needs reminded again, do not lose the phone, and keep the phone fully charged. If you do not have a car charger, get one and keep it plugged in at all times you are in the car. Also, always carry with you in your purse; a can of mace, tear gas, or pepper spray (whatever is legal in your area). Always have a reliable car and full tank of gas, or a reliable driver with the same.
ON THE STREETS:
Do not be out on the streets walking to anywhere at night alone. And even during the day, avoid any less than total safe neighborhoods if you are dressed super sexy. If you are out and don’t feel safe, have some more clothes to cover up with or slip on in the car. A pro model always has multiple changes of clothes in her car, pressed and in a suitcase or garment bag. Don’t change in your car unless you are putting more on and not uncovering. Pop in a bathroom if need be, and make sure that too is safe.
I will cover getting around in Los Angeles in a future issue, however what you have heard here is true- public transportation in Los Angeles is among the worst in the country. Get a car, and avoid public transportation if at all possible. If you must take it, don’t flash valuables, be aware of your surroundings, and avoid travel at night if you can.
You’ve heard the line about not talking to strangers? Well, if you are a pedestrian, don’t. I recently saw two young teenage girls who didn’t look like prostitutes and obviously were not from Los Angeles stopped and talking to a guy in a car for a very good length of time. I observed they didn’t know the guy, and he was probably trying to convince them to get in for a ride. Do NOT take rides from strangers and (hitchhikers will not like this but- oh well), girls- do NOT give rides to strangers. Cars are too vulnerable of a location where a dangerous person can do things against one’s will.
This goes for the homeless as well. Many vagrants on the streets are not merely homeless, but drug addicts who- after they get you close enough to give them a few coins- may attempt to do a lot more. I once saw one dumb kid actually open his wallet and let a total stranger look for money to prove he had none to give. The hustler went through his credit cards and I.D. and would not give it back to him. You have got to be careful. There are charity groups that help the homeless and if you want to actually help them, there are safer ways to do that. We donate to one such group., the Midnight Mission, here in Los Angeles.
If you have already done nudity, and make that fact known to your agent, manager, or booker, you can be certain that they will generally expect you to at some point do it again. Once you have crossed that line, they figure, if the money is there, you might as well do nudity again if the job requires it. If you go in to an agency or casting office and show images in your portfolio book of yourself in Playboy, Maxim, or the like, then that person will expect you to do the same or similar now. So, if you have done it already, but don’t want to do it again, don’t volunteer that you have done it before. However, never lie to your agent or manager. Just as falsifying information to an employer is reason for termination, so too is lying to an agent or manager cause for being dropped.
If you have never done nudity in the entertainment industry, then there are many things to consider. Nudity is a moral choice and an artistic choice, and its decision should include considerations of both. Don’t do anything that you would be ashamed of. There are various times when I consider nudity acceptable, and many others when I don’t. For example, in the hands of a great writer, and a great director, with a masterful cast, sometimes tasteful brief nudity can lend itself well to the story and elevate the art form. Art itself entails nudity from painting to statue, and one would be ridiculous to insist that galleries hide their statues and paintings that display the nude form. In the fashion industry, nudity is common, and any one that has read or observed as I have- Vogue, W, and Elle for around 20 plus years, as well as V, Top Model, Interview, and countless more, will find and know that this is true. Fashion is an art, and the face, body and life of the model is often its muse. Fashion sometimes uses nudity as a form in itself to lend to the work, or at other times, as aesthetic to shock, provoke, or excite. Here again, judgment must be made based on your own morals, and the artistry of the job and creators.
If you do not know of the creators of who may photograph, film, and depict you nude, then the best advice is to hold off until you are familiar with the creators, so that you can make your decision not only based on your morals, but also based on your artistic standards. If Sofia Coppola wants you for a role for example, that entails a nude scene, you can trust that it should serve your career and be a creation of beautiful art. If however John or Jane Doe wants you to, you may do better to hold off and do some fast homework on them- or just pass.
Do not agree to be taped by any production nude unless you know and trust the creators, and are getting paid for it. If it is a job for film or T.V., do not do nudity unless you are offered SAG eligibility to do so, and you can trust the source that tells you that you will get your SAG vouchers.
Any work for print is non-union, so if it is print work requiring partial nudity, such as a fashion editorial- again- do not do it unless you know and trust the creators, and I would suggest that you should not work any such job for less than one thousand dollars for one day, but ideally closer to 5k or more.
Remember, what you do now may end up to come back and haunt you later, so you better be very certain that you will have no regrets, and be able to live with your decisions now as well as later.
I won’t name names, but there are many reality shows and stations that should be ashamed of themselves. Some of them will lie to girls, trick them, and deliberately get them drunk and half naked, creating situations where the girls- sometimes virgins, will have sex for the first time with guys on camera, and then of course barely blur out certain parts for the ratings board. If you do want to and agree to be on a reality show, set this firm policy for yourself; do not drink or do any mind altering substance, do not do anything that you would be ashamed of your loved ones seeing, and keep your bikini on under your clothes at all times. Never take the bikini off when on set or any area you could be taped – many of these shows have hidden cameras in the bathrooms, and will have long, long contracts stating they can film you anywhere! And ask yourself, do I really want to do this? Will it help my career and goals? If you are booking a reality show through a good agent or manager (most of us won’t handle most of these projects), you will be better equipped and better protected. Much of the same here applies also for music videos.
SAG Low Budget or SAG Ultra Low Budget:
Just as with reality shows, these projects are ones which you must really investigate. If the breakdown (casting description) indicates papers pending, consider it non-union. If you book it yourself, you have a right to ask to see their SAG papers. If you get it through an agent or manager (most of us won’t handle these small jobs) then they should check it out for you.
Playboy, the magazine itself, which is considered mainstream to most of the entertainment industry, is no longer just the magazine. Today, Playboy is run by Mr. Hefner’s daughter, who decided to also go into the creation and distribution of sex tapes and the like. Be aware of your image and where it goes, and base your decisions on educated evaluation. There is a big difference between Playboy Centerfold, Playboy Special Edition, Playboy website, and Playboy TV. Many girls have asked me if Playboy will hurt their chances of being considered as a serious model or actress, and that answer is generally no, however, it will not increase your acting talent either.
It seems as if one couldn’t skip a rock down Hollywood Boulevard without hitting at least one porn star. Contrary to certain public opinion, or certain media wrongly attempting to convince all women they should be whores- being a porn star is generally not a good career move if you want a career in mainstream Hollywood, and is not advised.
We all know of the handful of starlets that started what seemed to be the trend of running around without any underwear on, and then getting accidently caught – (oops!) getting out of their limo or luxury car with their legs spread. Refer to the porn category for advice above. Keep your underwear on, and keep your legs crossed if you are wearing a skirt. Tramps are a dime a dozen in Hollywood, so being one in public will not make you a star, it will only distance yourself even further from the true stars that do have class.
HOME SEX TAPE:
Private moments getting taped by exes supposedly getting stolen and leaked - is of course, another passé trend for certain gifted celebrities. The solution here is, both parties should sign a legally binding contract certifying no release, or, if you want to be more safe than sorry, keep those cameras away from private places. Any fantasy of fame through an accidental home sex tape release may win you a blurb on TMZ, but generally only if you are already a star, and then, it sure won’t get you any votes at the Academy.
There have been far more women that have been in my office that said they would do nudity, than those who would not. If you are one of the few women in Hollywood who would not do a nude scene or a love scene opposite whoever you consider to be the hottest star in Hollywood, then you are unusual, but you are also to be respected. And if someone you meet doesn’t respect your decision based on your moral values that cannot be bought or sold, well then, their opinion isn’t worth anything any way. Be true to yourself, and your moral beliefs, and then you will be on the right path.
I hope this has helped many of you. I will continue further safety tips in the next issue, as well as advice specific to bands, actors, and models on how not to get ripped off. As always, if you have questions, you can call my office for free advice at 310-226-7176.
© 2011, Bruce Edwin / The Hollywood Sentinel. All rights reserved.