Using Social Media as an Actor
Actor Glenn Adamson asks if being present on social media is necessary as an actor and if so, how involved should you be?
By Glenn Adamson
There's a part of me that can’t distinguish where the line is drawn between self-promotion and narcissism. I recoil at the thought of being seen as that ‘selfish’ actor I was so rightly or wrongly branded as. Is that photo of me in my 'American Idiot' hoodie cute or is it just a humble brag?
Recently, I interrupted a social media hiatus by tweeting that I was "really missing theatre and my job." Whilst I waited patiently for an influx of likes from the industry’s biggest and brightest, I was met with a response I didn’t quite expect: an army of non-actors started hurling insults at me.
They called me "selfish" and stated "theatre is the last thing anyone’s thinking about right now" and the most cutting insult of all, "get a haircut." The implication of these trolls was that by voicing my yearning for the stage in the midst of the pandemic, I was somehow denying the severity of this virus. I was left a guilt-ridden, anxious mess.
Add this to my usual Twitter interaction of being @'d in conversations about which cast 'did it best' (never mine), combined with the debate that seems to be appearing weekly of whether the same faces getting all the online exposure during lockdown is or isn't fair, it reminds me why I’d taken that social media detox in the first place.
I deleted the tweet and all my social media apps quicker than you can say Bebo.
Despite this Twitter mutiny, only months later, I’m ashamed to say that whilst the app hasn’t reappeared, I’ve relapsed and started using my browser to steal the odd glance again. I've even allowed my pungent lavender bubble baths to become polluted once again by mindless scrolling, keeping a watchful eye on the tweets and Instastories of those in the industry I most admire/envy.
Why is it I can’t walk away from social media? Is it because social media is the best way to stay up to date with our ever-evolving industry? Is it because if you’re not actively liking every casting director’s tweet you might be forgotten? Or am I just a sadist wanting to see what the Twitter warriors do next?
I'm in full support of the rest of the world posting anecdotes and selfies galore, but I struggle to see how I can do so whilst maintaining any power. I don’t feel strong enough to handle a barrage of unsolicited opinions about myself. I fear that by posting I may end up building my own personal career glass ceiling in an industry already filled with them.
Industry pals have berated my decision not to post more content. It's widely felt by my friends that now more than ever if you don’t have a social media presence as an actor, it results in fewer opportunities and less work. Could that be true?
There is no denying that those actors who have raised their social media followings have benefited during the pandemic. I even saw one very established actor claiming that days after uploading a singing video, they received two job offers. Two offers in a week? A boy can only dream.
And then there’s those we’d never heard of until they uploaded astonishingly, impressive singing videos that have rocketed them onto the radars of an entire industry. Though for every ten fanboys (of which I am one), there seems to be the odd few who are waiting in the wings to tear that performer down and extinguish their moment in the light. The bravery of these vulnerable performers showcasing their talents from home should be commended not annihilated. However, I myself am anxiously mute when an iPhone mic nears my lips, in fear that I’ll be accused of riffing too much, too little, or just being plain terrible.
Of course, only a few have really managed to engulf our social psyche and become viral sensations, and I’m sure if we all listed the actors that are huge on socials, we’d probably all list the same 20 names (give or take). This leads to a certain level of resentment from the rest of us. There are constant cries that it’s the 'same old faces' but these are the faces that the public is willing to part with their hard-earned furlough for.
Social media followers are a great gauge of how many tickets you could sell. Producers want to make every possible penny so it’s justified to cast those with a tried and tested fan base, but for those of us on the sidelines, you can feel like you’re forever on the subs bench. Yet I still find myself looking at 140 characters and feeling my insides cringe at the prospect of writing something that no one will engage with or even worse, mock me for.
There's a part of me that can’t distinguish where the line is drawn between self-promotion and narcissism. I recoil at the thought of being seen as that ‘selfish’ actor I was so rightly or wrongly branded as. Is that photo of me in my American Idiot hoodie cute or is it just a humble brag? Will it make my peers guffaw? To some, posting a photo of my mediocre body post HIIT workout is self-promotion for Magic Mike but to others, it just screams ‘I love myself’.
For now, I’d rather stay as an observer until I have more confidence in the worth of my content, which says a lot more about my need to please than about social media. I guess I’m just a needy actor, standing in front of the industry, asking it to love him.
Glenn Adamson is an actor and graduate of LIPA. He is best known for playing Strat in 'Bat Out of Hell' in the US tour and upcoming UK Tour. Glenn also played Theo in SellADoor’s 'American Idiot', Billy in 'The Rise & Fall of Little Voice' and Terry in the UK Tour of 'Secret Love: The Doris Day Story'.
Headshot photographer: Luce Newman-Williams