Way back when I studied at the National Theater Institute, I remember our instructors warning us (especially the women) against being too sexy in how we presented ourselves. Many years later I had an actress studying with me in New York dismiss my concerns at her overly sexual photos by saying “Sex sells." It does. It can also prevent people from wanting to work with you. (To my knowledge, the sex she was selling never got her a role in anything professionally.)
Yes, we are drawn to attractive people who we feel sexually attracted to. But actors need to understand the difference between being attractive and our being able to see that you can be very sexy and your presenting yourself like you’d be trouble. At the O'Neill (NTI), they explained that producers and directors do not want to have to worry that an overtly sexy woman (read "or man”) will cause problems or distractions with their behavior during the run of a show or film shoot. They don’t want trouble.
Since that time, I have seen this happen – not just distractions but I’ve seen groups destroy themselves because of actors who were more interested in their love lives than the projects in which they were engaged.
I’m looking around Facebook and seeing young actresses with highly suggestive (read “tacky”) photos of themselves taken in their bedrooms or in skimpy clothing straddling a chair or twerking and I feel sorry for them. Because while sex may sell, no one in the industry is ever going to take these women seriously. No one. Only those who are selling a form of performance that doesn’t require a BA in acting (read “BA in anything”).
I see this among many, many young women (and some men) who should know better. They have gone to good schools. They’ve been in legitimate acting programs. And yet, here they are with email names and head shots and Facebook photos that display everything else about them except their acting skills. They don’t look great to work with. They don’t look confident. They don’t look talented. They don’t look intelligent. They don’t look skillful and competitive. They don’t look like themselves.
We all like to put out photos that make us look good. Fine. Look good. Look great. But do not put on that suggestive air that is better reserved for your lover. Be beautiful and confident and smile. And dress just a little bit more conservatively.
Our grandmothers were right when they said “leave something for the imagination."