Crisis in Employment: American Actors

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Is this Michael Douglas’ official Twitter account?  It looks like he was only active on Twitter for one year.  Most likely, that was a promotional choice.  Then, he dropped out of social media.  Why?

Michael Douglas is speaking out about the effects of social media on the careers of American actors.

Speaking to The Independent in the UK, Douglas said:

“There’s something going on with young American actors – both men and women – because the Brits and Australians are taking many of the best American roles from them,” he told The Independent.

“Clearly, it breaks down on two fronts. In Britain they take their training seriously while in the States we’re going through a sort of social media image conscious thing rather than formal training. Many actors are getting caught up in this image thing which is going on to affect their range.”

Douglas has a point.

In America, who are the most successful folks on the image meter?  Actors with lengthy training or the Kardashians?  Like it or not, it’s the Kardashians.  That’s the truth.  And how did they reach their success? Through a steady stream of social media. They aren’t actors, of course, but their net worth is huge.  Actors have attempted to imitate their quick rise to fame, rather than seek training.  I know many actors who have skipped training to find a fast track instead.  They’re hungry, but in a different way. Some still come from a trained background, but the truth is that any paid training may or may not pay off.

Look at college degrees.  If you have a college degree, there is no guarantee you will land the job that fits your degree.  If you have a history degree and you’re not a teacher, where are you going to find a job?  It’s the same challenge with theatre degrees.  So, some actors think:  Why take the training at all?  Why waste valuable years I could be on social media to garner attention instead?

In today’s job market, it’s more about networking and connections.  While I think Douglas is right, there’s also something to be said for self-promotion and networking with the right people.  Look how many successful actors from Australia that Australian actress Nicole Kidman has helped.  That’s smart networking.

It’s a game.  Play the game if you want to be in the game.  You must have some sort of training or experience and then attend events, join groups and network.  More than social media exposure, networking is the biggest component of successful game play.

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