A multi-part series for the not-so-established actor hoping to improve their career.
I have always said that the commercial nut is hard to crack. Month after month I have shared ideas to give you, the actor, the best possible opportunity to get the job, as well as the mistakes to avoid that can sabotage your chances of booking… or worse, enraging production/casting lasting many jobs to come. All you can do is the best you can do, by being the most prepared and respectful actor possible. And, it is good to know in the inevitable times of self-doubt, that sometimes, booking or not booking the job doesn’t have anything to do with you.
Commercial actors should never forget that sometimes… it isn’t about you.
You have all heard that there may be crazy reasons why you don’t book a job. It very well could have nothing to do with you… You could be passed up because you look like the client’s ex or your laugh reminds the director of his sister that he can’t stand. We have all heard that before.
A little less ridiculous, but still equally out of your control, is the advertising agency decided to go with a different ethnicity, age, or sex with your role. Or even more extreme, the role was scratched entirely. You certainly can’t book a role that no longer exists and you can’t change your sex to fit the new spec, although I have heard many of you claim to be fantastic in drag!
These last minute changes work in your favor too… someday you may get a call out of the clear blue sky saying you booked a job you never even had a callback on, or even a first call. I have been a part of actors getting a national commercial that they never even came in for. Rare, very rare, but it happens. You can imagine in these cases how important it is that you check your messages regularly, have a flexible schedule, as well as keeping your sizes and photos up to date on LA Casting.
The craziest situation I have ever personally witnessed of an actor getting a job… and another not getting the job went something like this… Two women with strikingly similar names came to callbacks for the same role. One made the selects list, the other was out of the mix. A production assistant was asked to pull the 1st choice woman’s headshot. The production assistant pulled the other woman’s headshot (with the similar name) and it was that woman (the “wrong” woman) who was approved by the client. The woman who was supposed to get the job, didn’t… because of a mistake by a PA… the lowest person on the production totem pole. And… a woman got the job because of the same mistake. Sometimes, it isn’t about you. Nothing to do with you…
I don’t say this to let you off the hook. Too many actors come to town after hearing stories of people being picked off the street to star in the next big movie or given a national commercial while sitting at Starbucks, thinking that’s how it should work for them. Don’t be that person. Work as hard as humanly possible. Commercials aren’t the step child of acting… or they don’t have to be. They can be your bread and butter and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Be professional, be prepared, be respectful and knowledgeable and your hard work will pay off. When you have nailed a callback, feel good about it, even if you don’t book the job. Know you did a great job and move on to the next one. Eventually you will book one. And in a down moment, instead of banging your head against the wall questioning your talent and skill, remember, sometimes it has absolutely nothing to do with you.