The best way to successfully jump start your acting career is to clarify what you are selling. What is your Market? Niche? Brand?
The first step for most actors is getting roles in unpaid off-off Broadway showcases which give you experience on stage or in student/indie films which give you experience in front of a camera. It’s good to observe and see the process but not so good for a healthy income or any at all! When you want to move on and have a real acting career (great roles, income, credibility, status) you need to meet agents to get representation and casting directors of major series and films to get cast.
But here’s the catch. If you want to be successful at your meetings, you need to bring something crucial to the table-your brand, your unique quality. (Otherwise you just get lost in the shuffle- Agents and CD’s see hundreds of actors monthly!)
The way to make that happen is simple. Here’s an example.
1- Choose your one market and focus on that first. PRIMETIME Drama
2- Then, find your niche – the kind of roles you can easily play and for which you will be called frequently. Spies, Action adventure heroes, CIA Agents
3- Define your unique quality/brand. “Sweet-Looking, but Tough Wise-Ass” Result: Michael Weston on Burn Notice
The clearer you are about your brand the sooner you will work. Why? Because if CD’s see you as a specific type you become memorable, a recognizable product. Recognizable products become very popular just like designer fashions because when someone buys your product they know exactly what they’re getting.
Guaranteed. Every time. So, if you specialize in “spies, upscale lawyers, nasty teenagers, vulnerable sweet guys, psycho-murderers” those roles will be offered to you, you suddenly get booked a lot, your income skyrockets and you get put on the A list. Then you have control over your career and the roles you want to play. You’re in demand! Success! That’s how it works.
But first, you need to do a little work. You have to figure out your brand.
This exercise works:
Send an email to 10 friends, family members or co-workers and ask them to describe your 3 most striking qualities. You’ll be amazed when several depict YOU in the same words – that’s your unique quality, your brand. Just sum it up in a short log line and relate it to role in a TV series or film. Here are a few from current clients:
Green-eyed Southern Belle with a husky laugh, war hero gone to seed, “flubby” suburban Dad, chain smoking, adoring Mom, psychic sidekick with a handgun, Hippie biker chick, ditzy office worker, sweet 4th grade teacher-victim, Hot guy with a dorky smile, striking brunette with a passion for shopping, pageant queen turned soccer mom, brainy, arrogant computer geek
FOCUS on making your brand a standout, memorable. Refine it, polish it, and make it sparkling like a diamond. Spiff up. You may have to do some “tweaking” to your image. Long straggly hair not working? Be different- curl it, wave it, cut it, or make it swing and frame your face. Make it work for you. Find a “YOU” hairstyle. Scraggly beard, goatee, shaved head not getting you an agent or any auditions? (The style could be too common right now and unless you have to have a shaved head because you are close to being bald- it’s probably a better choice to move on with another look).
The idea is to stand out from the crowd not fit in. If you look like every other actress and actor auditioning how are they going to remember you? Maybe you need to go back to the real you before your current hairstyle OR commit to having a style. Highlight those drab brown locks, grow that hair back in, re-create your image so it’s unmistakably yours, not the trendy look of yesterday or what every other out-of-work actor is doing currently with their image.
Dare to be different. Different works. Different books. Different is memorable, the goal of every actor. If Casting Directors remember you, they hire you! If you work a lot…Agents come running!
Revise your wardrobe- if your image above the neck has evolved, maybe your clothes have to be “tweaked” as well. Still wearing your college jeans and t-shirt? Yeah, great! So when you go to meet a top Agent or Casting Director they perceive that you’re still in “school” mode (read “student, amateur, unpolished”). “More actors lose roles because of their too casual, unprofessional appearance then because of the lack of training or talent.”
Think “professional” as in doctor, lawyer, FBI agent, news journalist, military hero, cop, forensic expert, fashion editor …just like the roles you’ll be submitted for on every current show… unless you’re 17 and going out for a role on Gossip Girl. Even then, those kids dress pretty upscale for teens-designer clothes not sloppy blue jeans. You may also have to get new head shots, re-design your resume, re-edit your reel or shoot a new one and update your website. (Moan, groan…”I have to spend any money?” Yeah, you do if you want to be in the running for any major roles).
All your marketing tools need to reflect your brand and how you look now so when you walk in the door that Casting Director holding your picture in her hand and smiling, says to herself, “YES!” That’s exactly the guy I wanted for this project.”
You’re in! Now, all you have to do is act. Easy!