Should your social media following help you get a role in the West End?
There has been a lot of talk recently about whether actors should be asked to include their social media following on their CV, when applying for a role. Some performers already do this as a matter of course and so should it become the ‘norm’ and should it make a difference whether an actor gets seen for a role or not?
Actress Carrie Hope Fletcher often comes under fire for this subject with people saying “She only got the role because she’s an influencer and not because of her previous stage work”. With over one and a half a million subscribers across her social media accounts, Carrie Hope Fletcher is a renowned actress, YouTuber and author and has worked incredibly hard over the years to gain the traction she gets. She is a brilliant actor and singer and has gotten to where she is today through nothing but hard work, so it is unfair to say it is just because she decided to do extra work outside of acting – like building up a YouTube channel.
Realistically, if producers want to cast someone in a show with a big social media following, in the hope it will put bums on seats, then it wouldn’t be difficult for them to look people up online before they decide whether to see them or not. So whether people decide to include these numbers on their CV is really down to them. A CV is designed to sell yourself to the person reading it and list all your best attributes and so if you think your social media numbers are worth mentioning then go for it!
At the end of the day, theatre shows are cast with many different things in mind. I know we would all love to believe that the best person gets the job every time because of their training credits and hard work they have put in but sometimes producers go with ‘star casting’ in order to sell tickets and so looking at social media followings of actors isn’t really a surprise if it really does happen.
Do I think it is the right way to go about it? Not really, but I can understand how there are sometimes many different factors when it comes to casting a role.
Flipping this question on its head though, how about if you are a recent graduate from university and looking for a way to stand out from the crowd and make yourself known to casting agents? That is when having a social media following can work to your advantage.
YouTuber Amy Lovatt has racked up an impressive 37,000 YouTube subscribers, mostly within the last year, due to her love of theatre and performing. Despite only being signed to an agent less than a year ago and having no West End roles to date, her loyal social media following has meant that her upcoming solo concert in the West End, sold out in less than forty-eight hours! That’s impressive and shows the positive side of social media.
Luke Bayer, who recently payed the ‘alternate Jamie’ in the West End production of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, started his YouTube channel back in 2011, well before he graduated in 2015 and has amassed almost half a million views over the years. I first saw his videos many years ago and whether or not him showcasing his talent on YouTube over the years has helped him in any way is unknown but it certainly hasn’t hurt.
So my point here is whilst your social media following shouldn’t be required to be supplied in order to be considered for a job, gaining a following on places like YouTube can help aspiring performers to get noticed in the industry which may then lead to them being cast in West End roles. Surely that is a good thing?
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