Dear 100 Hour Board,
A friend of mine once mentioned that she thought it would be impossible (or at least very, very difficult) to become a very successful/famous* actor while remaining a faithful Latter-day Saint. I didn't completely agree (heck, BYU has an acting program, right?), but she made a compelling argument.
An actor's job is to make the director's and writer's vision and art come to life. You have some room to insert your own ideas and vision as well, but all within the framework and limitations you're given. If you're a good enough actor, or famous enough, or both, then maybe a director will want you in their movie badly enough to be willing to adjust the content of the movie to something you're comfortable with. But as an aspiring actor, if you don't have a magical connection that shoots you to some big roles early on, you just have to take as many small roles as you can. Work your way up little by little. Frankly, you don't have the luxury of being picky with what roles you take, and a director's probably not going to change content for your sake. They have plenty of people to choose from.
If the actor is willing to take roles that involve some swearing, drinking (not actual drinking but the appearance of drinking), and other maybe kind of edgy content but not anything that will affect their temple recommend worthiness, do you think they'd still be able to "make it big"? Become a famous actor? Would it be significantly more difficult or less likely? What about someone who's a little more strict about "avoiding the appearance of evil"?
-Hal, wanting to be an uplifting influence in Hollywood
*I recognize that it's extremely difficult for ANYONE to become a famous or super successful actor. When I refer to the difficulty of becoming a successful or famous actor, I'm talking about it being more difficult relative to their competition.
Dear Killer Robot,
I have an uncle who is in many, many, MANY Church films including Finding Faith in Christ, 17 Miracles, the Joseph Smith movie they showed in the theater on Temple Square, and some D&C films from way back when. He was also a Bishop during much of this. He also did some non-church films such as a film about the founding fathers I had to watch in American Heritage. The most scandalous thing he had to do was kiss a woman who wasn't his wife in a play. I just wanted to mention this to say that he has been able to do lots of acting and maintain his standards. On the flip side, he did have to turn down a lot of opportunities and it definitely wasn't easy but he has been able to do it. If you are trying to go into acting in Hollywood you will need to make your standards clear from the get-go.
Good luck! I feel like actors willing to stand for their standards and be a part of wholesome films and plays are always needed.
-A Writer who is writing anonymously for the sake of his uncle
I got in contact with a friend of mine who's involved in the acting world (as is his wife.) He suggested:
First off, we’d recommend they read this talk: https://www.lds.org/ensign/1977/07/the-gospel-vision-of-the-arts?lang=eng
Second off, they need to make sure they know their boundaries and stick to them. One of my acting professors at BYU told us about how she set her standards from the beginning and never compromised on them, and when she had to refuse parts because of their content, she would always have something better come along. Make it a matter of prayer and know your standards and then move forward.
Third, make your own content. If you want to be an uplifting influence, one of the surest ways to do it is by having content you can give that will uplift. Be as good a person as you can and when you are making good content, other people who are wanting to make content like the kind you’re making will be drawn to you.
Which brings me to my final point: Network. Network with people, and respect them for Who they are, and they’ll respect your beliefs in turn (and if they don’t, they’re not the kind of people you want to work with anyway).
He also said he's willing to have me provide his and his wife's contact info if you're interested in more information or more of their thoughts, so if you'd like that, shoot me an email at anne(dot)firstname.lastname@example.org.
I had a very interesting conversation once with an LDS actor who's done a variety of small roles on TV. He was of the opinion that you have to stick to your standards from the very beginning. If you compromise in the beginning, you can't say later on that you don't do those things, because you already have, and it's on screen for all to see. He said that he's had to turn down a few big opportunities, but that it was more important to him to represent who he really was than to be involved with things he'd rather not be associated with. People respect that more than you'd think.
I believe that upholding standards is always a sacrifice. Choose standards you're comfortable standing up for, and make a plan that will realistically work with those standards in mind.