People often ask me how they can stand out when we see so many people for each role in commercial casting. For example, a theatrical casting director may only call in 20 actors for a co-star role, while we’ll often see 50 or more per role for a commercial project. That brings your overall chances of booking the job down from an already measly five-ish percent to just two-ish percent or less!
The answer is simple, and many of you still won’t believe me when I say it, but it’s true, nonetheless: Just be yourself. You are enough, just the way you are. No one else looks exactly like you, laughs like you, walks or talks the way you do. You already are a unique character with your own essence and mannerisms. It would be nearly impossible for another actor to perfectly mimic what already is totally effortless and natural for you.
And yet, so many actors I meet find it so terrifying. They don’t believe they are interesting enough or entertaining enough or attractive enough as they are. So, they cover up all that beautiful individuality and put on a “character” that they think the client is looking for, which is always worse. Always. Why?
Because if we need you to play a character other than yourself, we will tell you. We will be so clear about it, because if that’s what our client wants, it’s our job to get that from you. So always start from a place of just being you. Be fearlessly, unapologetically yourself and you will start to book like never before. Instead of a bland, generic, cardboard cutout of what you think will please the client, you’ll be a real, cool person.
I had a brilliant, handsome, leading-man type theater actor break down in tears in one of my commercial workshops at the very thought that he was enough just as he was. He had spent his whole theater career putting on character after character to the point, he said, that he didn’t even know who he was, in acting. He’d never just been himself ever, in an acting situation.
Take it from Meryl Streep, arguably one of the best on-camera actors of all time, who said, “Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.”
So, the question changes from, “Should I be myself?” to “Which side of myself should I be?” All acting is storytelling. Commercials are no different. They just happen to be very short stories. They also tend to be very simple, clear stories. On top of that, you have us directing the session telling you exactly what the story is and what we want you to do. You don’t have to do any text analysis whatsoever! All you need to do is what we direct you to do and put your own stank on it while you do it.
If it’s a silly burger commercial, you’ll be your playful self; the one you put on when you’re playing with your friends, kids, nieces or nephews. If it’s a heartfelt testimonial commercial, you’ll be your chill, down-to-earth, grateful self. Each of us has felt love, lust, pain, loss, anger, hope, excitement, joy, etc. It’s all within you. Every story you will ever have to tell as an actor contains elements that are already within you. Yes, even the twisted stuff—because we’re all screwed up, too, in our own ways. Hey, we chose to be actors for a living, didn’t we? How messed up is that?
It will take some time to process and accept that you are enough, but you are. Get yourself into an acting class environment where you can explore that. Take all the pressure off yourself to be entertaining and interesting, and just focus on the story. Just make your choices, do your preparation and then let go—be yourself and just have an experience. If you just have an authentic experience, free from any expectations or focus on outcomes, we will be right there with you. And we will love you.
We will love you.
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- Aug 17, 2017 How to Take Full Advantage of Your SAG-AFTRA Membership Aug 17, 2017
- May 30, 2017 3 Essentials for Brilliant Work May 30, 2017
- Feb 9, 2017 Stop Apologizing Feb 9, 2017
- Jan 18, 2017 Why Good Slates Matter Jan 18, 2017
- December 2016
- November 2016
- Sep 9, 2016 2 L.A. Session Directors on What Actors Need to Know Sep 9, 2016
- Jun 6, 2016 We’re Not Evolved to Handle Acting Well Jun 6, 2016
- May 31, 2016 3 Ways Stage Training Adversely Affects On-Camera Actors May 31, 2016
- Apr 14, 2016 4 Ways for Working Actors to Deal With Emotional Stress Apr 14, 2016
- Dec 1, 2015 How to Handle Unwanted Romantic Advances From Industry Pros Dec 1, 2015
- Nov 11, 2015 Stop Calling It Rejection Nov 11, 2015
- Oct 7, 2015 5 Universal Mistakes I See Actors Make Oct 7, 2015
- Sep 29, 2015 The Unsung Heroes of Casting: Cori-Anne Greenhouse Sep 29, 2015
- Aug 31, 2015 Why Acting Is and Needs to Be Fun Aug 31, 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 12, 2015 Being a ‘Good’ Actor Isn’t Good Enough May 12, 2015
- April 2015
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- February 2015
- Nov 28, 2014 12 Steps to Consistently Brilliant Performances, Part 3 Nov 28, 2014
- Nov 26, 2014 7 Steps Toward Better Headshots Nov 26, 2014
- Nov 12, 2014 12 Steps to Consistently Brilliant Performances, Part 2 Nov 12, 2014
- Nov 5, 2014 12 Steps to Consistently Brilliant Performances, Part 1 Nov 5, 2014
- Oct 13, 2014 Why Actors Must Take Care of Their Bodies Oct 13, 2014
- Oct 12, 2014 Getting Your ‘Look’ Right, Part 2: Matching Your Essence to Your Marketing Oct 12, 2014
- Oct 12, 2014 Getting Your ‘Look’ Right, Part 1: Identifying Your Essence Oct 12, 2014
- Oct 6, 2014 We Are Each Other’s Greatest Resource Oct 6, 2014
- Sep 29, 2014 An Ode to Actors Everywhere Sep 29, 2014
- Sep 23, 2014 A 4-Step Guide for Success in L.A., Part 2 Sep 23, 2014
- Sep 16, 2014 A 4-Step Guide for Success in L.A., Part 1 Sep 16, 2014
- Sep 9, 2014 The Importance of Training, Part 3: 3 More Things You Shouldn’t Tolerate in Acting Class Sep 9, 2014
- Sep 2, 2014 The Importance of Training, Part 2: 3 Things You Shouldn’t Tolerate in Acting Class Sep 2, 2014
- Aug 25, 2014 The Importance of Training, Part 1: Are You in Class for the Right Reasons? Aug 25, 2014
- Aug 18, 2014 The 6 (Often Thankless) Jobs in Commercial Casting Aug 18, 2014
- Aug 11, 2014 You Are Enough: Why You Need to Just Be Yourself in Commercial Auditions Aug 11, 2014