Know Your Limits

Sarah Clark, CSA

I was recently teaching a class when a young actress asked, “What’s the protocol when you’re approached about a role, but the role is asking you to do something you aren’t comfortable with?

I understand. That’s a hard place to be. You want to be a working actor. Your agent wants you to work. Production clearly is interested in you. You’re stuck between where your limits lie and what’s being asked of you. I get it. Here are some ways to keep out of this exact situation:

Decide what you are comfortable with, and what you aren’t comfortable with.

This may not be as simple as it sounds. You need to ask yourself hard questions: 

  • Am I okay with nudity? If so, how much? How long will it be shown on screen? What’s the plan for set while I'm exposed? 

  • Am I okay with kissing/passionate scenes? If so, does it matter who the other actor is? Does same sex/opposite sex bother me? 

  • Would I feel safe about being handcuffed/tied/mobility impaired in a scene that requires a captive/prisoner/etc.? 

You need understand where your comfort levels lie and then stick to them. If you are going to waiver, you should probably reconsider your answers. 

The reason you need to know these limits is because your performance will suffer - if you can perform at all - under strain. You need to feel comfortable and safe at all times to get your best performance and have the best, most professional experience. 

Talk to your agent.

Once you’ve decided what your limits are, please tell your agent about them. It’s very important for an agent to be aware of what talent will and won’t do. 

If agents know that a commercial requires a woman in a bikini and you have already told them you aren’t okay with that, you won’t have to even debate with yourself. “Do I want the money, or do I want to stick to my guns…?” It will save the agent the time it would take to reach out to you, and it will also keep them informed while they are looking through contracts. 

Stick to your guns.

Congrats! You booked the job and you’re on set! Then, the producer/director/whoever comes up to you and asks if you wouldn’t mind doing ____________ (which you’ve already told your agent you weren’t comfortable with.) 

So what do you do? Scream and tell them to $%^@ off? No. Say “Sure! You got it!” ? Only if you mean it. 

First of all, you should never be put in that position. Unfortunately, I’ve had too many calls or texts from, usually, ladies in this position. What I would recommend, even though it’s uncomfortable, is letting them know that you aren’t comfortable and if it’s a real issue, you could call your agent to talk about it. 

You worked hard to find your limits and then you were brave enough to talk it out with your agent. Don’t let some (completely unprofessional and terrible) peer pressure shake you. 

Your limits are yours to decide, and yours to stick to!

Good luck out there, 



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