A multi part series for the not-so-established actor, hoping to improve their career.
After a serious article about conflicts last month, I thought I would lighten things up a bit, with a far less serious topic: Let’s talk wardrobe. I know, opposite ends of the spectrum, right? When mistakes happen within the realm of conflicts, lawsuits arise. Why talk about wardrobe? It seems frivolous, but it could mean the difference between getting an easy callback or not… and who doesn’t want an easy callback?!? So let’s take a turn to a lighter, but oddly important topic.
Commercial actors should NEVER ignore the wardrobe request of the casting director when heading to an audition.
When you are given an audition time, whether by email or verbally, there should always be mention of the wardrobe. If your agent sends you your times via email through LA Casting, there is a wardrobe field. Also, if your agent is giving your info verbally, they should mention it as well. Much more often than not it will be something like: casual, nice casual, business, business casual… you catch my drift. Although you should pay attention to these (I don’t want to contradict myself) wardrobe requests, they aren’t the ones I want to draw your attention to.
It is ALL the others.
Any wardrobe that is out of the ordinary could be an easy ride to a callback if you take it seriously. The more specific and unusual, the better for you! For example, if the casting director asks for women in 1920’s attire, go for it! Do the hair, do the make-up, wear that flapper dress! A lot of people won’t, or won’t do it full out. The people viewing the casting session at the end of the day are busy folks. They don’t want to have to use their imagination… they don’t have time. They just want to see you in their commercial from the get go. You would think these creative folks would be able to visualize it, but don’t count on it. And why not make it easy for them? Are you coming in as a doctor? Wear the scrubs and put on the stethoscope. You may initially feel like a dork, but you won’t after you get a callback. Let’s be honest. Commercials aren’t usually considered high art… a lot of it has to do with having the right look and feel for the spot. Why not create it for them?
Sometimes you are asked to come to an audition with certain wardrobe pieces, and you simply don’t. This can be a big problem. An example: shorts and a tank top. It may be imperative that the clients see your body, hence the request to have talent in shorts and a tank. If you are covered up, this is an impossibility. The casting director can’t exactly ask you to strip… nor would you want them to!
Another example: winter coat and scarf and hat. Don’t be surprised if you are told that you will have to come back with those items, or not be seen. This hasn’t happened to you? It will. You must know the casting director is doing their best to create a great set of auditions for the director and ad agency to view, in the world they want to create. If the spot is for the holidays, and it is the beginning of September, you better dig in your closet for the winter gear. They can’t put you on tape in shorts and a T-shirt standing next to Santa and his elves. It doesn’t work. Arguing that you have never had to come with the correct wardrobe in the 20 years that you have been in the business doesn’t help either. Maybe asking a fellow auditionee if you could borrow their scarf would be time better spent.
Come on! You know better than to argue with the casting staff. They are doing their job, and you didn’t do yours. Fix it!
Sometimes you are coming from one audition to another and you are unprepared. It is ok. It happens… have your agent call the casting office and ask if they would rather have you out of wardrobe or a little late. They will tell you! Then, no reason to argue at the casting studio, and a stress free audition!
I am not going to lie. Wardrobe seems like a silly thing to me, too.
But I will reiterate, it is oddly important… at least at times. And you can never be sure when those times are. If the wardrobe request is anything out of the ordinary (casual, business, nice casual, upscale, etc) then count on it being a big deal and follow the orders.
It may be the simplest ticket to a callback you have had in a long time. Whether it is a normal request or not, do your best to accommodate it. If you aren’t able to, give your agent a call to break the news to the casting director before you come in.