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The Struggle of Women in the Acting Industry

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

TW: This article mentions rape and sexual assault.

I have been taking acting classes at a local studio here in Orlando for just over a year now, and through this process, I have learned so much about the arts and myself. Not only have these classes allowed me to become a stronger actor, but I have also become a stronger version of myself. Throughout this process, I have also learned how vital it is for me, as a young woman growing into this industry, to advocate for myself, my abilities, and the things I need. 

There is an immoderate history of women being undermined, not only in their careers and the workforce but through their daily lives and routines. They are undermined, underpaid, and constantly made out to fear harm and danger. Harm towards women is something I have personally been taught to be very aware of in the acting industry. I only know of local actors in my area, and yet I have still heard horror stories of the ways women I know are spoken to and treated. It’s become normalized within the acting industry and its harmfulness has gone overlooked for far too many years.

A woman’s safety and vulnerability should not have to be a trade-off for her success. So many stories came out when the MeToo Movement began to pick up in Hollywood around 2017. The movement had been around since the early 2000s, but cases involving Harvey Weinstein (a producer in Hollywood), caused this movement to gain momentum once more. For many of those not familiar with this industry and who look at it from an outside point of view, this news was shocking and disturbing. Even if you were familiar with how corrupt this industry can be, this kind of news is still unbelievable to hear.

The control that the acting industry has placed over its actors is something that I feel is finally coming to light for what feels like the first time in decades. SAG-AFTRA is working deliberately against things like sexual harassment and sexual assault towards actors and has rules in place for actors to file cases if something were to go wrong on a set or otherwise. Actors can now feel safe to report any individual who is behaving inappropriately and know that they have a guaranteed group of people standing behind them.

This industry is all about your vulnerability. In every class I have taken, there has always been something that I had to step outside of myself to do. This practice and way of learning takes a safe environment and a supportive group of people because you are completely outside of your comfort zone and out of your head. This is the way this industry grows and develops- by allowing actors to be their full and authentic selves and welcoming that with open arms. An actor, or anybody for that matter, should never have to worry about harm coming their way when they are already in such a vulnerable position. 

There are so many strong actors that I admire and so many strong women in this industry who have continued to inspire me and have pushed me to keep going. I am so grateful to have been learning my craft at a studio, Truthful Acting, that takes care of its actors first and foremost, and that has given me a space where I feel completely safe to explore my art and myself. I have been taught since day one the importance of advocating for myself when I feel like something is not right, and this confidence has allowed me to feel reassured in the things I know I can do.

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Felicity Warner / HCM

To any actors out there, I know how difficult navigating this all can be, and how the safety of yourself is something that is always on your mind. Know that there are resources and people out there to help you, even if it feels like there is no one you can trust at times. Someone wants to hear your story and help you through it, I promise you. Keep working as hard as you can every day and know that it is okay to stand up for yourself and advocate for the things you need whenever you feel necessary.

Kiley is a writer for the Her Campus team at UCF! She is a Writing and Rhetoric major, while continuously pursuing acting through classes she takes at a local studio in Orlando. Kiley is focused on writing within the realm of mental health studies, and is passionate about the conversation on how to help others with their own struggles. Outside of writing and acting, she enjoys trying new coffee shops, screaming-singing Noah Kahan in the car, and spending too much money at Target.