It’s undeniable that in any industry, who you know is the ultimate foot in the door. The film industry takes the cake. With opportunities passed through word of mouth, and swanky soirée conversations becoming the new elevator pitch, is it really about working harder or smarter?
Looking to break into the film industry is proving to be harder than ever. For those who can’t attend prestigious performance art schools or don’t end up on the list for fancy film parties, dreams are shattered and talent is squandered. Whilst networking is a helpful tool to put yourself out there, beyond how you’re viewed on paper, it can be dangerous territory, especially as exclusivity gets added to the mix.
When I was younger and an absolute musical theater fanatic, I went to the Sylvia Young Theatre school to satiate my glee obsession (I don’t want to talk about it). Surrounded by the sons and daughters of Eastenders stars, it became apparent that I could be one friendship bracelet away from becoming crying child number three, and possibly even more. All it took was being in the right place at the right time, and this is how it goes for many in the film industry. With the prestige of schools like SYTS, Juilliard and Laguardia, these institutions have become the birthing place for the Hollywood hitmakers that continue to grace our screens. There is definitely no denying the sheer talent of the big name school alumni, but there’s also no denying how far that mention of an alma mater can push you through the ranks. Being as competitive as it already is, every little leg up can help. With the benefits of running around in the right circles, exclusivity becomes an unavoidable obstacle, and nepotism is a pretty strong one to compete against. Whether they’re unbeknownst to many, or too identifiable to hide from the spotlight, there is an unending list of famous offspring that have been born into the benefits of stardom.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all actors who have a lineage consisting of leading legends flaunt their star-studded bloodline. Not everyone has the desire to follow in the famous footsteps or, quite frankly, has the talent to. But when they do, I’m pretty sure that Dave from down the street couldn’t compete with the mention of a Skarsgard or Gyllenhaal. Whilst talented in their own ways, the opportunities that these famous names have been given are not only a product of their status, but also contributes to the serious lack of diversity on screen. Combining the lack of racial representation in leading roles and the cases of nepotism in the industry, when will we get tired of asking why that one actor looks so familiar?
In a world where you have to navigate between networking and nepotism, talent just doesn’t seem to be enough. As it goes for every industry, sometimes you have to be a little ruthless and strategic, taking whatever back door entrance you can get. But how far is too far before the passion gets clouded by prestige?
I guess the question is, how far are you really willing to venture into the dark side to see your name in lights?