HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
My thank you cards get thank you's, so I want to teach you how to write kick-butt thank you cards that make you more memorable.
After I sent my last thank you to my agent, she wrote back saying, "You're a JEWEL!"
Say what?! Nobody's ever called me a jewel before.
However, there are three common mistakes actors make when writing thank you cards, so let's make sure you're avoiding them.
That's assuming you're writing them. You are writing thank you cards, right?
MISTAKE #1: CARD BRANDING
What card designs are you naturally drawn to in the store?
Be intentional about finding thank you cards that fit your branding.
If you love bold geometric prints, then don't send a card with vintage florals that makes you want to vomit.
Pick something that represents YOU. If you love a design, but it doesn't say thank you on the front, that's okay!
Pickup every card design that grabs your attention in the store before narrowing down to your favorite.
MISTAKE #2: ASKING FOR SOMETHING
Thank you cards are about the recipient, not about you.
Please, please, please avoid passively or actively asking for anything in your card. For example, "I really hope we work together again."
This seems nice, and maybe you genuinely like the person you're writing to, but it places an unnecessary expectation on the recipient to work with you again or else be guilty of not liking you.
We want our thank you cards to make people feel appreciated, not guilty.
Focus on them, not something you want from them.
MISTAKE #3: TIMING IS EVERYTHING
A lot of actors don't write thank you cards, which is unfortunate.
We need to avoid looking ungrateful by never writing thank you's.
Remember that everyone in this business is working their tails off, and they may not get a lot of appreciation for it.
I've seen a teenager show her butt in a casting office to an established actor that she had mistaken for an admin because he volunteered to help the casting office on a very busy day.
(Even if he was an office admin, they work hard, too.)
On the flip side, we need to avoid looking desperate by writing too often.
Some actors = overkill.
There's no need to write a thank you to casting or your agent every single time you get called in for an audition. Save those thank you's for major events in your career.
3 QUICK TIPS FOR ACTOR THANK YOU CARDS
Can't you simply sit down and write a thank you card? Yes, but make sure you apply these tips first.
ACTOR THANK YOU CARD TIP 1
So let's talk about a bonus tip for writing thank you cards if you're an actor. I recently needed to write a thank you card, and I kept putting it off. I thought, "I need to make the time to sit down and write out what I want to say."
I had some time to kill before acting class, and I realized, "You know what? I have my phone. I'm gonna open up the Notes app and type out what I want to say."
So that's my tip: Type before you write.
That will eliminate card waste because you'll probably be writing in a pen. You should be. If you write in a pen on your card and then you mess up, you must throw the card away.
Type it first. That way you can edit freely and then transfer that over to your card.
You should be writing thank you cards. They're are a great way to market yourself without self-promoting. It's always good to express gratitude.
ACTOR THANK YOU CARD TIP 2
Your second tip for writing thank you cards is to read what you've written out loud before you transfer it to the card itself so you can hear and catch grammatical errors and to make sure your thoughts connect.
ACTOR THANK YOU CARD TIP 3
For that third bonus tip I think you should just always have thank you cards with you. So keep them in your car. If you're not driving, if you have your business cards or your headshots stuffed in a backpack or briefcase, thank you cards are easy to carry.
They're smaller. Just make sure you have some with you in case you need to write one on-the-go.
So what SHOULD actors write in their thank you cards? When I first started writing them, I felt like I could write to three different people but say the exact same thing.
I've since learned how to personalize them in a way that makes the recipient feel appreciated and valued, and I want to teach you to do the same.
I had a director take the time to email a response to my thank you card and say that he'd love to work with me again. This works better than mailing out your headshots!
Check out The Absolute Best Follow-up Etiquette Every Actor Should Start Using Immediately to learn everything you need to know about writing amazing thank you cards that will make you more memorable.
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HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
I binge watched a show where all of the main characters were famous public figures, always in the spotlight. They worked for a company that built each of their platforms with a very particular set of branding standards. The way they dressed and what they said were all dictated by the company.
Throughout the series, they kept making compromising decisions because doing what they wanted to do "didn't fit their brand," as one character said.
I thought, "Wow. You should've had more say in your branding." Their brands had gotten so far from who they actually were that they were each starting to breakdown under the pressure of living a lie.
That's why it's so important for you to build a personal brand that's true to who you are. In this post, we'll take a deep dive into personal branding.
Even if you do hire a PR firm or brand specialist one day, you need to communicate what you want and simply have them wrap it in a bow. Otherwise, you'll find yourself trapped in someone else's opinion of who you should be.
Simply put, your personal brand is YOU. But what the heck does that mean?
WHY SHOULD ACTORS HAVE A PERSONAL BRAND?
"Personal branding is becoming increasingly important because modern audiences tend to trust people more than corporations..." - Inc.com
Lucky us! Actors are people. This means we have a distinct advantage to building our brands because they're automatically personal.
WHAT IS A PERSONAL BRAND FOR ACTORS?
Remember when I said your personal brand is YOU? Let's dig into this idea a little further.
"Personal branding isn't about coming up with a complicated strategy. Rather, it's about knowing who you are and what you stand for, and then finding ways to make that visible." -Forbes.com
This means we need to become more self-aware.
HOW DO ACTORS CREATE A PERSONAL BRAND?
Essentially, we need to put down who we are on paper, and then decide what aspects of us we want to share with the world.
Digging into who you are on a deeper level can be tough. Sharing those aspects of yourself can be even tougher.
What if we get rejected?!
Can I tell you a secret?
You WANT people to reject you--in life and in the casting process.
Let me 'splain.
We absolutely 100% cannot make everyone in the world like us--no matter who we are. Ok, maybe if we're Paul Rudd.
But if you happen to NOT be Paul Rudd, then know that there are people out there that totally get you, and it's better to give your energy and attention to them.
How do we apply this to the casting process?
The short answer is that I'm not always a good fit for a role, which means that role wouldn't be worth it to me in the long run anyway.
I have to trust the casting director's gut if they decide I'm not a good fit for the role. I also need to trust my gut if I feel like a role isn't right for me.
I'm not promoting that we should consider ourselves "better" than a role, but rather learn to live with the idea that some roles just aren't meant for us.
The same is true for your fans and followers. You're perfect for some people, and straight up wrong for others. Who wants to hang out with people that don't like them?
So let's boldly be ourselves knowing that we'll have haters no matter what.
PERSONAL BRANDING BRAINSTORM FOR ACTORS
This brainstorm consists of the five top questions actors need to ask themselves to kickstart their personal branding. I have a PDF download at the bottom of this post so you can write out your answers if you want.
QUESTION 1: WHAT WORDS DO YOU USE?
You should talk the way you actually talk. Out of all the words in the world, which ones do you actually use? Do you curse, use slang, use modest language, speak properly with 100% correct grammar, or are you grandiloquent? If I started dropping F-bombs, everyone would think an alien had taken over my body.
QUESTION 2: HOW DO YOU DRESS?
I had to break up with Target clothing recently. Hopefully, this doesn't last, but over the last year or two, I swear I could only find midriff tops and half shirts. That's not my jam. My goodies, not my goodies. Also, I would be freezing all of the time, and if I pay full price for a shirt, I would like an entire shirt, please.
If no one ever paid attention to what you were wearing, what would you wear? Sometimes your day job dictates this, but I mean outside of a mandatory dress code. Do you dress modestly, chic, high fashion, scantily clad, athleisure, or tacky?
Yes, tacky. I went to school with a guy whose family was loaded, but we were in a low-income school district. He dressed in the tackiest outfits he could find as a symbol of his family's wealth not defining him. I had a friend who would wear borderline costumes to school that he found at Goodwill because...that's what he wanted to do.
QUESTION 3: WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I moved to a new city for a bit to try out a different film market, and this particular area had a large market for outdoor recreational activities such as hiking. When I went to Whole Foods to buy groceries, I noticed they had an REI in the same shopping strip.
I think those stores are so cool because they have such a specific brand and vibe to them, but I always walk away thinking, "Eh, that's just not me." It's not that I don't like getting outside, but I'm not outdoorsy enough to invest a lot of money into a ton of outdoor products.
Think about everything that's important to you, no matter how small. How do you feel when I say words like: politics, activism, faith, charity, organic, local, outdoors, cooking, sports, art, decorating, hunting, or books? Now run the topics that are important to you through the filter of the next question.
QUESTION 4: HOW CONTROVERSIAL DO YOU WANT TO BE?
Some topics that are important to you may be very polarizing, like politics. You'll need to make a decision about how you want to share your thoughts based on how controversial you want to be perceived.
On a scale of one to ten, how controversial do you want to be?
(Not at all) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (Very)
Some topics will create controversy no matter what, but how you talk about these topics is very important. Your tone will play a big part in how controversial you seem to others.
You can talk about hard topics in an easy-going manner, or you can be highly energetic about anything. Your best bet is to communicate however comes most naturally to you, but don't force a personality into your conversations that you don't actually have.
Also, don't force yourself (or get persuaded) to talk about topics you don't actually care about. Did you know there's actually media training on how to avoid topics when you're getting interviewed?
You may also have fans or followers (or trolls) that try to steer you into topics that are important to them, but not to you. I'm telling you to stay true to what you think is important! You do not need to cater to everyone.
QUESTION 5: WHAT THREE WORDS DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO DESCRIBE YOU WITH?
Notice that I said which three words do you want people to use. You need to compare that to the three words people actually use. You can simply ask, and I breakdown an easy way to do that here in the personal branding section of my Actor Boss Pro course.
Download the printer-friendly worksheet below to write out your answers. Yes, I said write, as in with a pencil. It really does give you more clarity. Plus, you won't be bothered with other distractions on your screen.
If you really need a digital copy, simply take a picture with your phone or scan it with an app once you've finished writing out your answers.
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HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
You just never know who you will interact with online, Actor Boss! You should know that anyone you do interact with on social media is checking out your profile. What will they find? What will they say?
I took an online course one year that included a Facebook group. Every so often, I would scroll the posts to see if I had any valuable answers to offer the other group members. This group, btw, had nothing to do with acting or the film industry. It was focused on starting a business.
One of the members asked for feedback on her idea about starting a screenwriting course. I gave her my two cents about how that could be beneficial for actors that want to produce their own content.
We had a really good convo. Turns out, she's an award winning screenwriter that lives in Los Angeles. Say what?! I did not realize this before we started chatting, nor did I really expect to chat with a screenwriter in this group.
Randomly, she comments back to me, "You have a really great Facebook page." Now there's an award winning screenwriter in Los Angeles that will remember me as that actor from that Facebook group with the awesome Facebook page.
I don't want you to miss this: your social profiles need to leave such a good impression that they inspire someone to comment about how impressed they are by them. Lots of people scroll your feeds or hover over your name to see a preview of your profile, but are they really impacted by what they see? The crazy thing is that it's super simple to leave that kind of impression with just a little planning.
We've already discussed how actors can (and should) color brand themselves for increased recognition, so let's look at the next best way to build our personal branding kit.
If you want to easily brand your social media, then make all of your banner/profile graphics look the same. You can transfer that design to all of your post graphics as well.
According to Bop Design, "A consistent brand is essential. Humans by nature crave consistency."
This information can help you not only build your audience, but leave an impression that casting directors (or screenwriters) will remember. So let's look specifically at how to create a social banner because it will give you the most visual impact.
Remember, you're creating one design and reusing that same design across all of your social platforms. If your platform doesn't have a banner graphic, you can still use this post to help you brainstorm branded photos or video thumbnail graphics.
Back in the day, you had to pay a chunk of change for an Adobe program to create cool graphics. I know because I was the Editor-in-Chief of my high school's newspaper. Photoshop was all we had.
Then PicMonkey came onto the scene. I used the mess outta that, until one day I realized there was no longer a free option. They now only offer a free trial period that requires your credit card. Boooooo.
Canva is without-a-doubt my favorite way to create graphics now-a-days. They've added a paid version called Canva for Work, so they could absolutely pull a PicMonkey at some point and take away all the freebie goodness. For now, though, they're your best option for creating free graphics for social media.
Not only do they provide correctly sized templates for almost every social platform, they also offer a ton of images and graphics for free. Most paid graphics are only $1. Additionally, you can upload your own photos for free.
I've consistently created free graphics with Canva for a few years now. They also have free training tutorials that are super user friendly. I highly recommend you spend an hour working through those tutorials. You'll be surprised at how much you retain.
Canva has and will most likely continue to update their platform. Therefore, the screenshots in this post may not look up-to-date, but the instructions are still good. If you want to get serious about marketing yourself as an actor, then you need to pay attention to your social media platforms, which means posting better (branded) graphics and videos as part of your social media strategy.
PICK A BACKGROUND
Once you've picked your color palette, it will be easier for you to create graphics. We worked through color branding first for a reason. It's going to impact so much of your branding from this point forward.
Your background can be a solid color, a pattern, or a photo. Any solid color or patterns need to be your power color. If you use a photograph, it needs to be one of your headshots.
Canva will have free designs available once you choose your template (i.e. Facebook Cover), but I suggest personalizing your template since a majority of people use the free options. Your banner will look like everyone else's if you don't personalize it in some way. Here's an image of a few free examples:
I do not suggest paying to create social media graphics because there's no direct ROI. You're already making investments that you truly need for your acting career (like headshots) which you can reuse in your social profiles.
If you start creating products or advertising paid services on your page, then I'd say it's worth buying stock photos because it will make you look more professional, and you'll have the opportunity to make back your money. Until then, use what you've got, and get everything else for free!
PLACE YOUR PHOTO
I think your headshot needs to make an appearance in your banner if you're not advertising another offer or service. It's okay to have a profile that advertises both your acting and your day job, especially if you offer a service that requires you to book clients.
For example, I have an actor friend that's a manicurist. Her default should be her primary acting headshot, no matter what. Her banner photo could promote her acting featuring a headshot (examples at the bottom of this post) or a video banner featuring her demo reel. It could also be a simple graphic or video inviting her followers to book an appointment with her for a manicure.
If you don't use your headshot as your background, then be sure to place it in your banner photo elsewhere. Your primary headshot should always be your default photo so that people know they're looking at the right profile. You can use it again in your banner photo or select another headshot edit. Either works, just make sure people can see your face.
Canva offers free photo frames in various shapes (pictured below), and I have banner photo examples at the bottom of this post to show you the difference between using a background photo or a photo in a frame.
TYPE YOUR NAME
If a friend or contact refers someone to your page, or someone sees you on tv, think about how they would find you from their perspective. They'll need to confirm that they've found the right profile within about three seconds or else they'll abandon the search. Our attention spans have gotten that short.
Feature your name somewhere in the banner. It may seem redundant since it's on your profile, but most people with look at your banner first. Let them know they're looking at the right profile!
Canva has a number of free fonts available, including graphic fonts. Remember to update the colors to your branded color palette. Again, I have examples listed at the bottom of this post.
There's also a menu for Shapes. Grab one and add it to your graphic for a more personalized vibe. The more personalized the banner, the better, and don't forget that less is more in the design world.
I've created three graphics to get your creative juices flowing. The file download is available below the graphic. Feel free to use one of these designs if you like. I've added the instructions for each example, including the terms you need to search for within Canva.
I challenge you to update your banner profiles today! Remember, you can use the same graphics for each banner, but you'll need to open the appropriate template for each social media platform and remake the banner.
For example, if you create your Facebook banner first, then you'll need to open another template for LinkedIn or Youtube to recreate the banner according to those sizes. Otherwise, you'll have a very pixelated photo.
Lastly, don't let creating a free Canva account get in your way of doing this. It's free! So what if you need to create another password?! That's small potatoes when you think about all of the great free marketing you can do with your Canva account.
FYI, I am not an affiliate of Canva, nor do I get compensated for this post in any way. I truly find value in the platform and want you to utilize it as well. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.
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HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
One of the first acting books I read was Audition by Michael Shurtleff. His most popular tip from the book is to always wear the same outfit to the audition and callback because that's how directors remember you.
The specific example he gave was a director asking about "the girl who wore the orange sweater," if I remember correctly. That got me to thinking about how important the color of what I'm wearing is in addition to what I'm actually wearing.
I started only wearing blue because I get a lot of compliments on my blue eyes, so why not make them pop on camera? Then one day, someone from class said they mentioned my name, and another actor friend of ours said, "She always wears blue."
Bada boom, bada bing, baby! That is the power of good personal branding! Personal branding can sound like an overwhelming term, but it's important to learn for the sake of building your career.
Actors must effectively market themselves, and building a brand can increase the success of those marketing efforts. Every successful business ever has strong branding, so why would that be any different for you as an actor? Unless you want your acting to stay a hobby, then you must start thinking of yourself as a business.
You might be thinking, "Wait, I don't have any customers as an actor, so why do I need a brand?" But remember, your fans and followers are your customers. At some point you'll want them to purchase or watch your work.
"Successful branding yields benefits such as increased customer loyalty, an improved image, and a relatable identity. (TSL Marketing)" - via Lucidpress
One of the easiest ways to kickstart your personal branding as an actor is by choosing your brand colors, which I'll teach you how to do in this post.
Here's what the experts say about brand colors:
When I say Facebook, you think of the color blue.
When I say Coca Cola, you think of the color red.
On the flip side, those colors may make you think of those businesses.
You can also use color psychology to your advantage as an actor by making casting directors think about you when they see a certain color. For me it's blue. I never wear red (more on that later).
I have an actor friend that looks great in citrus colors (yellow, red, orange), and I've highly encouraged her to always wear them. That means she could actually associate herself with a color family (citrus) as opposed to just one color. Jewel tones would also be considered a color family. For the sake of getting started, though, there's one color I want you to consider the most.
STEP #1: PICK YOUR POWER COLOR
The first color you need to pick is the most important because it will be your staple color. Like blue for me, this will be the color that you're known for and associated with the most.
Pick the color that makes you look your best, also known as your "power color." I suggest that you always wear your power color, especially to auditions or in your headshots. Why the heck not? It's literally the color that makes you look awesome!
This might to be your favorite color based on that fact. People tend to like colors that make them look good and dislike the colors that make them look bad. This isn't a hard and fast rule that you must use, but it's a good place to start.
What's your favorite color? Do you feel your best when you wear it? Do you feel like it lights up your face? Most importantly, does it make your eyes pop? Your eyes are really what casting directors like to look at anyway.
That's why I pick blues. I have blue eyes and red undertones to my skin, so blues make my eyes pop (especially on camera) and tones down the redness in my skin. Red, however, is my least favorite color. It really enhances splotchiness in my skin and accentuates acne.
Your power color will also be the color you primarily use for your text or graphics on your social media or website. I actually use a variation of blue that's a bit more aqua for all of my graphics. If you can't fit all three of your brand colors onto a graphic, then at least make sure to use your power color.
STEP #2: PICK A NEUTRAL COLOR
Neutrals are colors that appear to be without color, creating an amazing backdrop for more pronounced colors. What's your favorite neutral color? Take a look at your clothes or the color of your walls for potential inspiration.
Neutrals include white, gray, black, beige, ivory, taupe. Now look at your favorite color against your favorite neutral. Do they look good together? If not, tweak your neutral color to complement your power color.
Which neutral do you use most in your everyday life? I actually use navy as my neutral since it's a darker version of my power color, blue. If it was green, I could use hunter green or dark olive.
Your neutral will be the color you typically use as the background of your graphics, logos, social banners, website, and staple pieces in your wardrobe if you're super coordinated.
For example, if your neutral is black, you could wear black pants, jeans, or jackets. That doesn't mean you must always wear your neutral color. Your power color is what's most important and should always be somewhere on your top half so that it shows against your face on camera.
Your neutral color is really there to complement your power color and make it easier to see and notice. Think of your power color as the picture and your neutral color as the frame.
STEP #3: PICK A POP COLOR
This last color is going to add a little pizzaz. It's optional but great when you need a third color for your graphics, website, or outfits. A pop color is also exactly what it sounds like.
You need to pick a color that "pops" against your neutral and power colors. These tend to be bright, bold colors. Its primary purpose, though, is to drastically contrast your other two colors. Even if you don't have a super bright pop color, think of this color as the one you just add "here and there."
This color should be used sparingly to highlight key text on your sites or to add visual interest to graphics. You could also use it in the accessories of your wardrobe, such as a necklace or a necktie.
Take color branding as far as you like, but adding this last color will make you look and feel consistent. That consistency is the key to making you more recognizable.
BRAND COLOR EXAMPLE
My current brand colors are aqua blue (power), navy (neutral), and mustard yellow (pop). I used coral instead of yellow initially, but it felt too feminine for me. I don't really like pink. Make sure that the colors you pick are colors you actually like.
If you update your brand colors, make sure you do it everywhere! You also need to buildup a new brand launch on your social media profiles with sneak peeks of what you're changing if you're making drastic changes.
You may also consider letting your audience vote on options. Make sure you only offer options that you actually like. This will make your audience feel like they're part of the process and brand aware before your launch even happens.
If you decide to change your color branding at some point, it's ok to leave old social media graphics with their original branding. It's not a great use of your time to update old posts that most people will never see. It will also allow your new followers to see your brand evolution.
Just make sure any new branding is cohesive across all of your platforms once you pull the trigger. Your website is where it will matter most concerning your online presence. Your wardrobe is where it will matter most concerning your photos and auditions.
Here's an example of my colors in action:
I want to point out that my power color is blue, but there's not a true blue in my color scheme. However, I consider navy and aqua to be in the blue color family, and I always wear blue shirts. In general, I'm associated with the color blue.
It's ok to bend these rules (i.e. only two colors, monochromatic scheme of one color), but this is a great foundation to get you started. Again, the one color I think you should highly consider incorporating into your branding is your power color.
So what are your colors? Comment and share. Start incorporating it into your wardrobe and online presence this week. It's ok if you have the same power color as another actor. It's probably going to happen, but how you use it will be unique to you.
Here are five free color palettes to help you brainstorm if you're feeling stuck. Feel free to use one of these palettes:
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HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
When you first become a professional actor, you go through the grind of doing commercials and industrials. Most actors complain about this because it's not "scene work," but it can teach you a lot about being on set before you start running with the big boys and girls.
I had an interesting experience on one of my first industrial photo shoots for a major bank. My mother has worked in the banking industry my entire life, so even though I hadn't seen a shot list, I knew what to expect.
I was probably (most definitely) going to play a bank teller with a big smile handing a customer money across the counter. I would probably (most definitely) play an employee sharing my two cents at a meeting.
While I was sorting through my twelve million outfit options, someone from production started running through the waiting area to assign roles to all of the talent. He quickly walked past me and said, "You will be showing everyone what not to do by sexually harassing all of the employees."
Wait, what the heck?
I am a modest is hottest kinda girl, and it's not because I'm insecure about how I look. It's just nobody else's business except for my husband's. I immediately started (carefully) Googling stock photos depicting harassment in the workplace to see what this meant for me.
Oh God, no.
Kill me now.
Someone else made an assumption just previous to this shoot about what I was willing to do in a scene solely based on my headshot.
I looked over at my actor friend, Tracie, and said, "What do my headshots look like? Do I look like I'm a scandalous woman?"
"No, you don't," she said.
She was right. I wasn't showing that much skin. I wasn't wearing anything super revealing. I wasn't making any suggestive faces. (Although, I have had a photographer manipulate a shoot to "catch" a few faces that looked suggestive between poses that I'll tell you about in the future. Total nightmare.)
I realized then that you won't always be able to control how people see you, but you can do your best to portray who you are as a person because that uniqueness is what will get you cast. (Sometimes, though, the lens through which people see the world will dictate what they think of you no matter what.)
Before you dig into this blog post, I want you to understand that it's ultimately up to the casting directors, directors, and producers to decide if you're the right "type" for the role.
My goal in this post is to give you criteria on how to find your actor type that will help you better understand the primary impression you're making on others, which you can then utilize in a very specific way to increase your opportunities.
Ideally, you should portray how you'd like to be cast (assuming you have a preference). If not, then I still think niching yourself is the best way to push forward, and then you can show everyone that you have range later once the opportunity presents itself.
THE TRUTH ABOUT YOUR "TYPE"
We need to place parameters on this concept of type so that it doesn't control your world. While I am going to have you ask for feedback from people you know, it has a specific purpose that we'll discuss in a minute.
It is very eye-opening to understand how you come across to other people versus how you *think* you come across to other people because that's how you're coming across to casting directors, directors, and producers that don't know you very well.
However, I hate the idea of you standing in a room full of people that aren't casting directors to ask them how they would cast you. For starters, that's not their job. Also, if you don't utilize that information correctly, it's going to plant very negative seeds into your brain that will grow and fester into your death as an actor by limiting your beliefs about your talent.
Understanding how people see you is not what's important; how you use this information is what's important. Here's the specific way to use your type: I think finding your type is best used to pick comp card looks for commercial modeling photos or to market yourself for co-star roles for tv shows, not for the entirety of your career.
Those roles don't typically require a ton of range and aren't going to be what wins you the Oscar. They're also usually niched into one-word descriptions such as doctor, waiter, or gangster making them easy to book from a simple photo or vibe you give. Can you see why asking a bunch of other actors how they would cast you doesn't make sense for your long-term career now?
Your abilities as an actor could never be summed up into the initial vibe you give. You can, however, use that vibe to book a lot of these "stepping stone" roles for bit parts that are actually booked from first impressions.
Please understand that ultimately I think you should read for any and all roles you're comfortable reading for. I don't believe any actor just getting started is "above" a role, which is different than feeling like it's not a good fit for you. The goal of this post is to give you a strategy for using your type in the most beneficial way possible.
3 UNIQUE QUESTIONS TO FIND YOUR ACTOR TYPE
I learned this as a student during a summer workshop at the New York Film Academy. I have no idea who created it, but I'm fairly sure the teacher's name that taught it to me was Abbie.
3 Unique Criteria to Find Your Actor Type:
If you have any copyright information about this, or know of its existence elsewhere online, please comment to let me know! To my knowledge, this is not proprietary information.
WHAT'S YOUR VIBE?
Your vibe is best described in temperatures: Hot, Warm, Cool, and Cold. These have nothing to do with how you look, so don't let the "hot" label trick you. Let's look at short descriptions and celebrity examples for each of these to give you more clarity.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
This question should be taken as straight forward as it sounds. Pick from Urban, Suburban, Rural, and Royal. Where were you born in the world? What part of the country? What part of your city? The hard truth for Hollywood is that your answers should be based on the USA.
Production companies see an actor's potential through the lens of why people are going to pay cold hard cash to see them. That means you are literally selling one of the following items listed, which don't need much explanation. You need to understand as an actor that production companies are worried about one thing--making money. They need to be! If they don't make a profit, they can't keep making movies, and we're all out of a job.
Remember, you are a multifaceted person who may portray multiple of these answers throughout the week, but you primarily portray one answer from each of these lists whether you realize it or not. Find out what it is, and use it, use it, use it to ramp up your initial bookings.
Which three answers would you pick for yourself off the top of your head? Go with your gut. Comment and share.
My initial answer to, "Where are you from?" was Suburban because I grew up in the suburbs. The instructor that taught this to me, however, said that because I was from Alabama and sounded as if I had a Southern accent to people in other parts of the country, that I should actually consider Rural. I've lived in both NYC and LA, and inevitably my friends in both locations started calling me Alabama because of the way I say words such as "pie."
Additionally, when I shot a commercial for Audi, the director kept asking me to lose the Southern accent even though I thought I had. I've sometimes had people say they can't tell I'm Southern when I've "turned it off" a bit, but the majority of people can still hear it. I can either fight it or use it to my advantage. Helloooo Holly Hunter.
BRANDING VS TYPECASTING
I also want you to understand that typecasting is slightly different than branding. Branding is used for marketing, and typecasting is used for booking, but your branding should influence your typecasting.
Part of my branding is relatability and modesty. Do you know who is not relatable or modest? A Bond girl. She's exotic, urban, and sells sexiness all day long.
That means that you'll never see lingerie photos on one of my comp cards. I'm not going to ever market myself as the co-star girl who has a one-night stand with the lead on a show.
Therefore, my branding is influencing my typecasting. It doesn't mean that I couldn't do those roles, it means I'm choosing not to based on my brand values.
The opposite may be true for you. You might read those descriptions above and think they sound exactly like a role you would like to play. The point is that I've thought through what I want, and I want you to do the same.
Think through your branding, set your brand values, and allow that to influence how you utilize your typecasting results.
Each of the questions we discussed has a few answers to pick from. Pick one word from each column in the download at the end of this post. I would classify Sarah Silverman, for example, as Hot | Urban | Humor/Fun.
These three answers shouldn't dictate the rest of your acting career. I want you to use them for the sole purpose of ramping up your bookings for commercial modeling and co-star gigs so you can get your foot in the door and start making some money!
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HEY ACTOR BOSS,
I'm a screen actor and certified goals coach focused on helping other screen actors that are not yet a household name achieve their most urgent goal.