As the headlines continue to be filled with horror stories of sexual harassment at film studios and TV networks, I’m getting more questions from concerned parents – especially Christian parents – about their children who want to pursue a career in Hollywood. Is it safe? Particularly for a daughter? There’s no question that some of the accused were respected icons in the industry, and yet at least one had a special lock on his door he could quickly activate from his desk. The speculations range from wanting privacy while in the act, to keeping his targeted women from getting away.
I’m not an alarmist, and for those of us who have been here for a long time it could seem silly. But with the revelations people are hearing, it’s understandable that some might be concerned for their children coming right out of high school or college. But the truth is, when I first came to Hollywood in the 70’s, it was far more creepy.
Once, when I was looking for a cheap place to rent, I found what seemed to be an amazing deal in the Hollywood Hills. When I pulled up to a mansion, I thought I had hit easy street. But I soon realized that some rich guy had installed about 10 sets of bunk beds in his unfinished garage (along with a single sink and toilet for them all), and was renting them out. It was like a prison camp in the middle of Beverly Hills.
Talk about creepy.
Obviously not interested, as I backed away toward my car the guy started screaming at me that I was an idiot to pass up such a sweet deal.
But today, while the headlines attest, there are still abusers of all kinds (sexual, financial, narcissists, and more) in the industry, Hollywood is also a remarkably safe place to live and work. Where Hollywood Boulevard used to be filled with hookers, porn shops, and drug addicts, now it’s a showplace anchored with the El Capitan – a Disney owned family theater across the street from the Dolby Theater where major award shows are produced. Positive changes like that have happened in multiple spots across Los Angeles.
For Christian young people, there are numerous churches with special outreaches to members working in the industry, as well as independent ministry outreaches such as Mastermedia, The Hollywood Prayer Network, The Greenhouse, Act One, The Influence Lab, and more.
If you’re careful about your personal safety, and follow simple rules about where you go, who you’re with, and being alone, Hollywood can be as safe as your hometown. And just like your hometown, you should never take chances with your personal safety, or compromising your integrity.
And when it comes to your career, it’s good to remember that on a certain level, coming to Hollywood or New York is supposed to be a challenge. It’s a tough industry to break into, and only those with drive, passion, and purpose generally position themselves to make it.
The bottom line? Before moving East or West for a career in media or entertainment, the question isn’t “Is it safe?”
The question is, “Am I called?”
Phil Cooke is a producer and media consultant to churches and ministries across the country. His latest book is “Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media.” Find out more at www.philcooke.com.