That is the assumption that if actors are local to an area where a production is taking place, that "local" somehow means less talented, less serious, less skilled and "just amatuer hobbyists".
Devon is a beautiful area for filming and for theatre - and not only are there many fantastic local productions, but also national, and international TV and film companies, advertising agencies, and others come down to make use of the amazing locations.
As a result very often, we are contacted by these companies looking for actors. This is, on the face of it, brilliant, and often can lead to some fantastic employment opportunities for us all.
Equally often however, and from extremely large international, and national production companies, we are contacted for castings, and told that "as we are just local" that we will not be paid (usually not even a busfare or portfolio photos/ showreel clips) and should be doing it just for the fun and the "chance to be on TV".
Now the paid/ unpaid actors dispute is not what is at stake here. To be honest if there is a student or struggling indie project asking us to get involved, I, and most of the rest of our team, will be very happy, if available, to be involved for our fares, and portfolio material. We know first hand what it is like to be getting projects underway with zero funding (remember we started with the proceeds of a carboot sale, and still mainly rely on funds raised from tabletop sales etc, due to the difficulty of finding grant funding, even with national awards and international nominations under our belt, and a 12 year track record) and I know how heartbreaking it is to be able to offer profit share and portfolio material to our casts, when really as professionals they deserve full salaries. (I can honestly say we always end a project in the green and everyone gets paid and provided with a wealth of portfolio material, but that is not the point).
What I do object to, though, is multi-million pound companies, who CAN afford to pay actors, who want free labour and try to excuse it by the fact that "oh you're just local". That is not right. Large or small, you do what is within your means and feasable to recompense your cast and crew.
The "just local" stigma has another effect. When I am out promoting our next production (has to be done, otherwise no bums on seats and no money for our actors!) in our local towns, I instantly get met with a small but noticable percentage of people who say they would be very interested to come "if we were not local amatuers". When I (politely!) challenge this with the correction that we are local professionals, I get met with complete amazement and comments along the line of "but youre local, so I thought you must be amateur".
My standard response is that even the top Hollywood Oscar-winners, are local to somewhere, live in a town somewhere, where they are local. They live next door to someone (even if it is next mansion along!!!).
On the side of that, I have done amatuer theatre. I probably will again. I have many friends who do amatuer theatre and prefer to be hobbyists; that should no way impact on how the quality of thier shows is seen. The only difference is that professionals are paid for it, and amatuers arent. (and quite honestly if a big company wants to use actors for an amatuer organisation for thier project, then they should be recompensed the same as everyone else). It is not an uncommon remark that some amateur shows can be amazing and some professional ones not (and vice versa).
There is an unconcious stereotyping and stigmatising that happens. Sadly it is the arts that suffer. Local actors (professional and amatuer) are usually highly skilled, and just because they may not have traveled from somewhere else for a production, does not make them less skilled! In fact they may be greater assets to the production, with local knoweldge that can help as well (for example for an episode of a well-known daytime BBC programme, I was able to assist the producers with location scouting and arrangements in my hometown, instead of them having to travel down from London).
Instead of seeing "local" as a negative, see it as a positive: local people are creating something great, and working hard. People wouldnt say a local lawyer or doctor is anything but professional, so why assume that of actors? Local knoweldge is available. Supporting local businesses and local people supports the local economy.
I am not sure how to break the stereotypes - certainly one blog post won't do it, but if it reaches one person who stops to consider the points made, then it has made a difference - one drop in the ocean. And as a character says in the film Cloud Atlas; "What is an ocean but a multitude of drops?".