Following my appearance on The Rick Amato program, my inbox filled with emails from concerned friends and colleges concerned that the interview – or at least the headline Rick used to promote the interview – would hurt my reputation with Hollywood industry insiders. The headline Rick chose asked the question, “Conservative actor black listed?”
The headline was admittedly provocative. Rick and I spent all of two minutes discussing my Hollywood career. (These days, that’s about all it takes.) During that brief exchange, Rick asked if my being a vocal Conservative had hurt my career. “Well,” I said, “It certainly didn’t help.”
Rick was not the first interviewer to ask me the question. The truth is that I am asked that question almost every time I am interviewed. Every single interviewer asks that question because Liberal bias in Hollywood is an accepted fact. Still there were those begging me to remove the Amato interview. Somehow, the irony of both questioning the existence of a blacklist of Hollywood Conservatives and begging me to remove the posting from my Facebook page lest it hurt my chances of getting acting work in Hollywood was lost on more than a few of my friends.
My manager implored me to remove the post, claiming that he has thus far not received any resistance to my being seen. “Why just the other day,” he protested, “XYZ casting director spoke so highly of you, asking if you were still with ABC agency.” I appreciated his concern and I respect the work he is trying to do for me. Therefore, I bit my tongue, rather than point out that I haven’t been with ABC agency for almost 25 years. XYZ casting director feigning admiration while having no idea what I have been up to the last quarter of a century isn’t proof of having been black listed; It’s proof of something, but not of being excluded from consideration because of my politics.
Some say that where there is smoke, there is fire. I can claim to have smelled lots of smoke, but I can’t claim to have seen any fire. I have been a vocal conservative for what seems like a very long time. My weekly column ran from 2002 to 2011. I have been on television and radio speaking my mind and appeared in magazine articles, usually labeled as, “Conservative actor.” I think its fair to say that while I am not the most well known Conservative actor, as an actor, my Conservatism is well-known. in spite of all the years of ‘being out” as a Conservative, I can only point to two instances where I am sure that I was either not hired or not considered to interview for a job because of my politics.
The fact is, that the acting business is so wacky that is would be difficult to know if one is not being hired due to Politics – as in Republican or Democrat – or politics – as in friend or relative. In addition, given the bus loads of talent (of every level) being seen for any particular job, how would one ever know if conservative politics were the reason one was overlooked for a particular job?
Still there is enough smoke that a great number of Conservative actors in Hollywood keep their lips buttoned tight when it comes to politics because they fear that any hint of their Conservatism would result in their NOT being hired. In fact, the fear of being outed is so real that many undercover Conservatives won’t even speak of their Conservatism even when Conservatives are being attacked. How do I know of the instances where I wasn’t hired due to my politics? Because a fellow Conservative, who remains closeted, happened to be sitting in the meeting and listened to the conversation as my name was passed over for consideration. The fear is real!
And it’s no wonder. Every vocal Hollywood Conservative has a story about backlash; about suffering the loss of work and friendships that occurred once they revealed their Conservatism.
I’ll repeat here what I told Rick on his program: There isn’t a doubt in my mind that there is a bias against Conservatives in Hollywood. I have my story of backlash and I have suffered the bias. However, bias and backlash is not a black list.