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  • Michael Ellis

    Actor

    Hello all,

    I thought I would share a recent audition and to ask the question what would you do?

    It was for a part in a music video, small pay, which I found on here. The audition was at the production companies office and was held by two of their employees. One on camera and the other directing. The part I went for was one of the male leads, an office worker. I was asked to perform a little impro, around the concept of being lost and confused, while on your knees in an alley. At the end of the audition, they thanked me, checked availability, then just when I thought we were about to say goodbye said, β€œOne other question, would you be willing to go topless?”. Now this caught me a bit off guard but after a few moments thought I agreed. She then said, β€œ Would you mind if we film you, so the director can see?”. To this I said I would mind or that my agent would not be happy and left. They were fine with this and said it was not a problem and they would let me know either way on Friday (they didn't). On walking a few yards down the road I asked myself, why didn't I just take my top off?

    I have been topless a few time before and of course did agree to do so again but I think I just didn't agree with how it was propositioned. Or would I have just liked to do a few push ups! I'm not suggestion any ill intent by the production company but just feel it's not the way you should be treated and so I took the moral stance and remain a resting actor!

    • 3rd Jun 2009
    • 4380
    • 17
  • Blake J Askew

    Actor

    To be honest, I think you did the right thing. As another guy I will say that the same respect and rules of PRE WARNING the actor about being topless or even nudity should apply.

    The real issue is one of respect here, that they did not bother to tell your agent or even you BEFORE your appointment and , I suspect, assume that as a guy you would not mind since you dont have breasts etc and then "whats the problem?"

    Its unfortunate to say but you probably wont get the job, but I would report the company to Equity as the respect issue is one that applies just us much to us guys as to girls.

    The people who were casting you will naturally accuse you of being "difficult" but as far as I can see, you were making a choice to insist on self respect rather than compromise yourself for a fleeting job, and that is something NO ONE can take away from you.

    This is a CHEAP business and they hire people who will sometimes CHEAPEN themselves. You are basically making a statement that you will not be treated like that and you have a God given right to do so.

    Well done.

    • 29th May 2009
    • 1
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Well done you!

    It is out of order to just throw it in at the end of the audition like that. If they knew they wanted to see you topless (because it was an integral part of the scene) they should have said this to you and your agent before you went to the audition.

    Recently I had a casting for an ad and in the blurb that they sent it said that there would be a topless scene but from behind for the ad (it was for body lotion or something). They did say that the actress should be willing to go topless in audition and be filmed! They then said "you will only be expected to go topless at the original audition, not at subsequent recalls because we believe that 'once seen, never forgotten'.....If you're seeing them topless from behind in the ad...why do you need to film them from the front!! needless to say I declined to go to the audition!

    • 29th May 2009
    • 2
  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    Hmmm...Michael, this is tricky. Firstly yes, they should have def told your agent about the requirement prior to your audition. It should have been made clear and why in the original brief on here too, if an agent was not involved?

    In their defence, perhaps they wanted well defined "works out a lot" look....? If that's so, then I guess as a guy, its no big deal to show them yer pecks!

    Without being there to hear and see how the question was asked etc...it's difficult to judge.

    If it had of been a female audition, they would have needed a slap of course!

    It sounds like a bit of a cheap amateurish job on their part, hence why they advertised on here for actors willing to work for low pay, and well, everyone knows my views on this sort of thing by now!

    Did you do the right thing....probably yes. Did it cost you the job.....maybe...you will never know, so best not beat yourself up over it.

    Good on you for sticking to what you felt was right at the time.

    • 29th May 2009
    • 3
  • Blake J Askew

    Actor

    Mark,

    I think the idea that "for a guy its no big deal to show your pecs" is not correct. Why should guys be in any way dismissed cos they dont have breasts? The rule should be enforced throughout. To some, he would be considered to be overreacting but I think the principle is that maybe a guy has scars or something he does not want to show, or alternatively feels thats hes not confident about being topless and would not have gone for the audition in the first place. One cant just say that its not as big a deal for men as for women... guys also deserve the same amount of respect and boundaries regarding nudity etc, being topless.

    Im not having a go at you at all, I am just giving my thoughts. Each situation is different, granted, but who is telling THEM that they should have considered checking out of professional courtesy whether the actor in question would be comfortable being topless?

    I just think production companies need to begin to consider that while we actors are "product" in one sense, there is a human being behind the "product" and each of us has feelings and a sense of self. We are so ten a penny as actors that people seem to assume that we are just a number. Some things are not worth compromising.

    • 29th May 2009
    • 4
  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    No I hear you Blake, and agree with a lot of what you say Sir!

    I do think it is a bit different for guys though. It's not as though he was asked to drop his trousers?!

    I guess we are all different though, and it would not worry me to reveal my top half, as long as I felt it was politely put, and professionally dealt with. Mind you the chances of anyone asking me to reveal my top half these days is remote!!!

    If I had scars or whatever, I would have asked why on earth a requirement to reveal my top half was not pointed out in the casting brief?

    Without us being there at the time, and without seeing the original brief etc, its a tough one to call really?

    I also think as actors, we have to accept, like it or not, especially with commercials, we are little more than a product to these Co's? Its a nasty bad world out there in the commercial sector! It's not right, but as actors, it is what it is.

    Its a tough call, but I agree with your "respect" points and views totally.

    • 29th May 2009
    • 5
  • Mary Gerardine Hooton

    Actor

    Surely if 'nudity' is required in a film/performance, and is required at the audition as well, it should be mentioned in the original casting call/invite, whether it's male or female. Obviously a director does sometimes need to check for scars/tattoos etc, and sometimes clothes can hide a multitude of sins! But some warning would be good, I'm sure the director wouldn't whip his top off if you just asked them!

    A friend of mine, who isn't on CCP, recently nearly made the mistake of going to the 'audition' with the fake history film, where the guy made young actors strip off in the audition and filmed them (sorry can't remember his name but it was discussed on here). she was fine about going nude in the auditon, and would have done so had she not received an email the night before from Mandy.com, warning her of the situation. Obviously as I only found out afterwards (and it really frightened me to think what might have happened), I gave here a good talking too, but what are the rules (if there are any) about nudity in auditions etc? Is it different for men/women? Is it differant in modelling to acting? Maybe there's some confusion between the two?

    • 29th May 2009
    • 6
  • Law Ballard

    Actor

    I think our bodies are our temples-and how we need to guard them and respect them to the utmost, and it is personal to each individual, how far they should go. However there is a difference between women going topless and men going topless, and I am in no way saying men should go topless if they don't feel they should or they feel it inappropriate and certainly only go topless if the situation is respectful. But i see less men on page 3, i see less men getting their breasts gropped in bars and pubs and on the tubes ,i see less fuss made over topless men in a derogative manner (not that that it doesn't happen cos it does,just less), I see less men getting boob jobs as a result of media pressure to look a certain way-pert and young. Women's breasts are sexualized to the ennth degree and the direct effects of this are clear in how we are portayed, how we feel about our ourselves and how men see us and in turn seen as okay by our society. Women going topless for the media is in the main sexual (unless again it is for reasons of respect to the body and being as whole) and in turn sexualises women's bodies in a way that is not true for men. Yes there is a big difference.

    • 29th May 2009
    • 7
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    Last year i auditioned for a cruise ship and was succesful. I was in my final year at college and was obviously delighted, they told me they would ring me with regards to the contract. Nothing happened for months, which was fine as the ship they had earmarked me for wasn't until about 6 months later anyway, but two weeks before they sent me an email asking if i would be willing to dance topless.

    I was non the less suprised and said i would not but would be willing to do all the other dances but unfortunately they said there were people willing to do it and therefore i would be passed over.

    I was very disappointed as no nudity had been mentioned at all during the audition or at any stage until two weeks before my contract was due to start!!

    I am however glad i held my ground, what i choose to do with my body is my choice and if there are other people out there willing then fair play to them.

    • 29th May 2009
    • 8
  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    Hey Mike,

    How are ya? Interesting thread. I think you did make the right choice here. For me, the issue is not so much your being asked to appear topless. In this case, I tend to agree with Mark, and think they were probably looking (particularly considering it was a music video) for guys who were prepared to get their pecs out, look ripped etc. and that it was a relatively innocent request - dancers, for instance, do this kind of thing all the time, and, in point of fact, I was appearing in a production with a couple of guys who did this just recently - and I don't think it ever became an issue. As people have said, there is a qualitative difference between men and women going 'topless' and, in fact, men in the industry so often go topless (particularly in e.g. dance circles, circus or in physical theatre) that we barely register the fact that they are actually doing so. For women, going topless is a very different issue - because it is almost always used to designate something different about women than it is about men.

    With all this said, though, I think you were right because of the principle of being allowed to know about this requirement *before* the audition. There are a whole number of reasons why this should be the case:

    1. As has been said, it reflects badly on the outfit that they are not prepared to give you all the details of a project until a very late stage in your application for it - it suggests strongly that there is something dishonest about their whole setup, and there is no good reason why they shouldn't have mentioned this fact if they knew all along it was going to be a vital requirement.

    2. There is the possibility that had you known of the commitment beforehand you might not have followed through on the application - and that *should* be your choice as an actor. Clearly, they may have been worried that they wouldn't get as many applicants if they were upfront to start with...but if all the applicants will simply turn them down at a later, rather than earlier, stage, then they haven't been helping themselves by being secretive.

    3. Questioning your agents' attitude is perfectly reasonable - regardless of whether you feel the request is degrading, surprising, unnecessary etc. or whether you actually feel 'why the hell not?', it may be of concern to you as to whether doing the project will send out the right impression of you vis-a-vis your agent. At the very least, you should be entitled to spend a little time discussing it with them, on the basis that the fact that you needed to go topless hadn't been revealed at any earlier stage in the process. Not to allow you the option of discussing the question and then coming back to them over it again smacks of amateurishness on their part.

    I have always said that being nude (in whatever capacity) is very much a personal choice for the actor. I tend to think that there is nothing to be ashamed of, and we should be confident enough in who we are to display our bodies if needed, but I also appreciate that there is a lot of exploitation in this industry, that women 95% of the time are placed in more difficult positions than men, and that everyone has different limits. Nor do I think that being perpared to do 'nude scenes' or otherwise makes you a better or worse actor (as some like to claim!). All I can say is that, having done a variety of topless scenes, full frontal nudity etc. myself, I am always surprised that, whenever the interest is not primarily to titillate, no-one actually seems remotely bothered by the nudity, and it is just accepted as part of the piece. It is, perhaps, more demanding to be filmed nude or topless than to appear so on stage, because the record will always remain, but there is little distinction in real terms.

    Still, in this case, I think the real issue remains that you weren't told. You should have been given all the info needed, and this would have resolved all the problems - whether you needed to discuss with your agent, whether the request put you off, whether you felt you needed to get yourself to the gym in preparation etc. etc. Not telling you reflects badly on them, and is no reflection on you. You took a stand, and you were right to do so.

    • 29th May 2009
    • 9
  • Jenna Sharpe

    Actor

    Don't feel bad Mellis. It is really hard to make decisions like that on the spot as you never know what impact it could have on your future career. If it didn't feel right though, I think you did the right thing!

    I am up for a role where partial nudity is required and I was fine with that... until I realized I didn't really know what constituted as partial nudity and whether my idea of it was the same as the directors.

    • 29th May 2009
    • 10
  • Blake J Askew

    Actor

    You see, thats the point I am making as well. Jenna, you have EVERY RIGHT to be told exactly what this means before hand. I had to turn down a fringe show when they asked me to go nude but gave no specifics how much, when in show, for how long- and this was UNPAID, so how much more for PAID work?

    • 29th May 2009
    • 11
  • Helen Belbin

    Actor

    I think there are so many people out there who just don't know how to behave/handle themselves and if we don't politely but firmly put them straight they'll never learn.

    I'm constantly hearing stories from friends about odd/bad treatment all the way along the line - from contact before auditions to auditions/rehearsals etc.

    Think you did well to go with what you felt was tight. It's their loss!

    Hx

    • 29th May 2009
    • 12
  • Farah Sardar

    Actor

    I actually feel embarrassed when men walk around without their tops on.

    • 29th May 2009
    • 13
  • Kirk Moore

    Actor

    I personally don't give a cr*p if people want me to get my gear off. I've been nude onstage a couple of times. Its not a pretty sight! My body is a very tricky combination of skinny *and* flabby. If people *really* want to see that in the buff...

    However - it should be mentioned in the casting brief, or at the very least, mentioned from the outset of the audition!

    • 29th May 2009
    • 14
  • Mark Joseph

    Actor

    I'm not bothered either. Had a commercial casting couple weeks ago where they sprung the topless thing on us at the last minute. S'pose it's just whether you care or not, and having the courage of convictions if you do.

    M.

    • 30th May 2009
    • 15
  • Andrew Lawden

    Actor

    if it isn't in the blub with the job and seems unjustified , DON'T DO IT !!

    • 1st Jun 2009
    • 16
  • Michael Ellis

    Actor

    Thanks for the messages backing my stand.

    I'm glad I said no, looking back I think it was more the companies approach,which I had the problem with.

    Latest development: Possibly have a tv pilot coming up, which I was sent the script for yesterday. Second scene: In the shower......

    I'll let you know how it goes :)

    • 3rd Jun 2009
    • 17