By: Patty McCall
Tulsa, Oklahoma (The Hollywood Times) 07/27/2021
Whether it’s from the hours she put in on stage, on television or in films, Zoë Yeoman has spent a lot of time honing her craft. The accomplished actress made her theatrical debut when she was 16 at Kings Hall in Heidelberg, Germany. Since then, she has become a decades-long member of Actor’s Equity and the Screen Actors Guild.
In the past, you’ve seen Zoë in roles on Law & Order: Special Victims’ Unit, The Practice; Strong Medicine, The Drew Carey Show and the ABC Sitcom, Rodney. In addition to acting, Zoë produces theatre and film and has also directed.
Yeoman is an incredible actress, in part, because she’s a keen observer of human behavior. She grew up living all-around the world and witnessed firsthand different and expected behavior based on location and culture. That said, as a bit of an outsider looking in, she adapted an objective world view, which allows her to see the potential greatness we can all reach, without being overly critical.
Yeoman has always had a passion for learning and teaching. Over the years, Zoë has taken what she’s learned about etiquette and has now taught thousands of people how they can relate to the world with a greater respect for others and themselves. So, whether she’s on a set or in front of an audience instructing, this gifted communicator is connecting with others to help make the world a better place.
THT asked the actor and manners expert to give us some basic set etiquette, which can help anyone who spends time on sets, and on the Stage.
THT: Zoë, does on-set etiquette change that much when working on a studio project verses an indie?
It doesn’t, necessarily. That said, if anything, the size and scope of a project (let’s presume for this case, our indie set is smaller); the etiquette could be more important. For example, one might presume the access to the film’s director, stars, etc., may be easier. But consider the pressure on any smaller crew and production staff that is most likely feeling overworked and overly stressed. Fewer people making things move forward could suggest having less time and easily flaring tempers; trying to get shots within budget constraints and the real need for fewer interruptions. The need and desire for everyone to keep their heads down and themselves in check is probably much more likely. Obviously, this is a broad-brush generalization, but we know time is money and it seems to this Etiquette expert, everyone being on their best behavior will help keep the waters calm.
THT: Without mentioning names of course, what are some set etiquette blunders you’ve witnessed in your career?
This is rather funny to me. Ready? Asking for selfies and autographs; trying to get “next to” the Director. Hogging the Kraft Services table. Pushing other background members out of the way and simply being “too much work” in general. The biggest one is the yacking and constant need for talking. The way I see it, know your lines, the main players for your scenes, the 1st and 2nd AD’s names; your makeup and wardrobe pros names; do your job and leave when released (and not before!). Being nice to people is one of the biggest ways to either end up with a speaking role as a non-principal or to being asked back again.
THT: Should etiquette protocol be delivered verbally at the start of a production or simply put in memos… or both?
Memos/emails are always best for some, perhaps not so much so for others; but yes, putting things in writing should help keep misunderstandings at bay.
THT: What’s the best way to address etiquette mishaps on set?
Apologize or forgive and forget and then move on. Everyone makes a faux pas from time to time, as none of us is perfect. If necessary, write that memo so it doesn’t happen again.
THT: What’s the biggest etiquette win you’ve seen on a set?
I think one of the nicest things I’ve seen transpire is when the Director, Producer or series regular or star walks around and introduces him or herself to others on the set. It really does matter and helps tremendously with morale.
THT: Talk about how on-set stress and etiquette relate to one another. Do they cancel each other out?
As we always have a choice in how we react, I wouldn’t say the two things cancel each other out. What I will say, is when feeling overly stressed on-set, it’s a good, good thing to be aware of it. However, you need to mediate that issue matters; but don’t bring your issues to work, if and when you can help it. The late baby-sitter, etc., all of life’s little challenges can make for a hard drive onto the lot. Everyone is feeling some sort of pressure typically and it’s a real part of our work. So, when you have an opportunity to take ten, actually take it. Make it count. I can say with one hundred percent certainty, that using good manners in any workplace is paramount to everyone’s good day and safety.
THT: What are some etiquette changes you’ve seen since COVID?
Mostly the hugging and hand shaking has stopped. We don’t congregate around the Kraft services table any longer (and heartbreak of all heartbreaks; there’s no coffee service anymore!). The main thing is that people are really social distancing and we believe that’s really helped to keep most sets safe.
To keep up with Zoe’s latest tips on etiquette, be sure to visit her on Instagram @theogetiquetteexpert
Questions are always welcome!