If you’ve ever heard me give a talk to commercial actors…or deliver a group explanation during a session, I tend to be wordy. It’s a great and terrible thing about me. I just so desperately want to give every last morsel of information I can think to share, in hopes of illuminating the light the bulb above the head of ALL actors. I guess they call that the “Ah-hah” moment. But some of you just want the CliffsNotes version of the commercial do’s and don’ts. This month is for you.
Commercial actors should never ignore the top 10 commandments of commercial success.
*Thou shalt watch commercials
It’s hard to be cast in commercials if you don’t watch them. Watch them to know the trends, the types represented, and the wardrobe.
*Thou shalt have BRILLIANT commercial headshots.
What are your commercial types? Do you have a headshot to represent each one? And far more important… are they really, really great? Like the top 10% of all commercial actors in your market? Your headshot is the first thing the Casting Director sees…and they won’t go any further if they don’t like what they see. Make sure yours are brilliant. Pretty good doesn’t cut it. (and you MUST look like your shots)
*Thou shalt take the wardrobe instructions seriously.
It’s the easiest thing that actors tend to ignore… or get wrong. In commercials, wearing the right wardrobe for the role/commercial you are being seen for can give you a big advantage. I’m not kidding. Read the wardrobe description. Then make sure your choice matches what similar roles on already made commercials are wearing. Like it or not (and I know this bugs some of you) your wardrobe choice is wildly important.
*Thou shalt arrive on time.
Obviously your punctuality benefits the Casting Director, but it benefits you, too. Really. When you arrive on time you have the proper scene partners, you are within the correct spot, and you don’t have to wait through lunch or be turned away.
*Thou shalt LISTEN to the session director/casting director when they give the explanation.
When the session director/CD is giving an explanation they are telling you everything you need to know to book the job. It’s shocking how many actors don’t pay attention. Listen meticulously. They are handing you the keys to the kingdom.
*Thou shalt be prepared.
If the copy is provided ahead of time, know it. Well. If the scenario is provided, think about it. Prepared actors get the callback. I promise. There is a big difference.
* Thou shalt never LIE.
…not to the casting office, your agent, or on your resume (and that includes STATS). I know there are different opinions on this subject. I say that it’s the exception to the rule when the lying has a happy ending. Far more often it doesn’t go well. Which leads to…
*Thou shalt not burn bridges.
You are pretty much planning on being an actor forever, correct? Or at least a really long time. Well, that will become increasingly difficult over time if you’ve been burning bridges. Big, hard decisions will need to be made in the course of your career. Think long-term when it comes to decision making. Sometimes you have to look past the end of your nose to know the right decision to make.
*Thou shalt develop thick skin.
There will be a lot of rejection. You won’t get the audition, the agent, the callback, the avail, the booking…more often than not. Learn to let it roll off. It will save you.
*Thou shalt celebrate ALL the victories.
Celebrate the big, obvious stuff…that’s a no-brainer. But there’s plenty to celebrate in what could be perceived as the failures. You had a meeting with a top agent who decided not to go with you? Celebrate getting the meeting. Got a callback but didn’t book the job? I ALWAYS say that a callback is a victory. You received an audition from a Casting Director who has never called you in before? Hooray! Celebrate that! Find a way to enjoy the journey…and a sturdy support group to stand by you the whole way.