Nudity in the Workplace
So here’s something I’d love to discuss out in the open with my fellow artists — professional nudity.
No, no…not the kind of nudity that becomes your profession, but the kind of nudity that often goes along with being a legitimate actor of the young and female variety.
I bring this up because a few weeks ago, my agent contacted me to ask if I would be okay with nudity for a role on a major television show that she wanted to submit me for. A show that I would very much love to be on. My response? Yes. Did I get called in for that particular role? Nope. But it has given me a lot to think about as far as the future is concerned, and for that I am grateful.
In the past, my response to nudity has generally been “thanks, but no thanks” to anything much beyond implied nudity, but the projects I’ve been submitting for up until recently have been much lower profile (hence, lower pay and less opportunity). The stakes have been lower, basically.
I guess to have any sort of legitimate discussion about how much nudity one finds acceptable, you have to start by classifying the types of nudity generally called for. The various levels of nudity, as I see it, are essentially (from least invasive to most):
- Bra and Underwear — While I appreciate that this is generally considered “nudity” for casting purposes, this doesn’t bother me. I wear a bikini at the beach, so I personally don’t see the big deal.
- Implied Nudity — Implied nudity can mean a lot of things, but I’m categorizing it as “you’re probably pretty un-clothed on set, but it won’t get seen on camera.” For instance, you have to take some clothes off so that you look naked under that bed sheet, but no one will be filming anything explicit. Or they want a shot of your back in the shower so you have to take your top off, but nothing gets seen in the end besides your pretty little shoulder blades.
- Silhouette Nudity — You’re naked on set. But perhaps you’re behind a dressing screen? Or a shower curtain. The viewers see your naked silhouette, but they’ve probably seen playing cards that were more erotic.
- Topless Only — Here’s where we start to get down to some “real” nudity. Yes, you really are naked and it really is captured for posterity. But you still might have done something similar on spring break one year if you had slightly crazier friends than I do.
- From the Rear Only — You’re naked. We only see you from the back. How comfortable you are with this probably depends on how nice you think your butt is.
- Full Nudity — The whole enchilada. You are brave.
I guess where I stand at this point is that I’m definitely okay with the “lesser” nudities — Implied through Silhouette. I’d probably even be okay with Topless nudity that was handled well for a really cool indie project. And for a bigger project that I would be really excited about (like the one my agent called me about)? I’m flexible. I’m not in love with the idea of being terribly naked on camera, but I’m open to the idea for truly awesome projects.
So here’s where we get to my favorite part of this post — your input! I really want to know how my fellow actors feel about this, so please vote in my poll!
And if you have anything you’d like to add in the comments, please do! This is a relatively new subject that I’m grappling with in my career, and I’d love to hear how my colleagues deal with it in theirs.