You’ve all figured out by now, there is no one road to commercial success. No recipe to follow. There’s no, “if you do x, y & z then you will book.” Here’s the good news and the bad news all wrapped up in one sentence:
Commercial actors should never forget… you are hired for who you are.
What does that mean, exactly? Just what you think. You will book a job because you have red hair and you will not book a job because you have red hair. You will be hired/not hired for any and all of your physical characteristics. Your height, weight, age. Your gender. Actors are hired because of their agent… and yes, actors aren’t hired because of their agent. You will be hired because of your social media presence. You will be hired because you have no social media presence…or because no one cares if you have a social media presence. When you have a special skill, you can be hired because of it. I’m guessing a special skill wouldn’t be used against you…gotta love special skills. Your perceived imperfections will both hurt you and help you. Your perfections will do the same. I’ve heard, “She’s too pretty,” more times than I can count. No kidding.
Think of all the time you’ve spent lamenting not booking a job. It’s likely the for the same reason you’ll get another one. Perspective is hard to have, but oh, so good. And let’s also acknowledge that you very rarely know why you didn’t get the job anyway, so don’t waste your time guessing. Because that’s all you are doing.
Just because you are hired for who you are, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be educated about the trends in commercials. How would you know the trends? Ask your agent, coach, commercial instructor…or simply watch commercials. What is hip look/wardrobe-wise in commercials? We know that look and wardrobe are both important, often times very important. Are midwest moms with shoulder length bobs cool these days? Or are moms more trendy with short pixie cuts? What’s popular in LA (or the market in which you call home) isn’t necessarily the same as what’s happening in advertising. So don’t look around the neighborhood for inspiration. Fast food workers in commercials rarely look like actual fast food employees. Study look and wardrobe trends. You can decide if you want to follow the look trend, and grow a beard (for example) or buy the cardigan sweater or not. But knowledge is always power.
If comedic spots are taking over, decide if you want to enroll in improv or a comedy class. Decide if getting a headshot to reflect your comedic abilities might be a good idea.
If you’ve always wanted a sleeve tattoo, get one. And know that you will be hired for having the tats and not hired for having the tats. Wanna shave the side of your heads, ladies? Go with pink for awhile? You don’t have to follow the commercial trend, but it may limit you. And if you are ok with that, be free to do as you wish. You will be hired for who you are. Period.
So, if you are booked based on who you are… then it’s a crap shoot, yes? No. You take part in your own success or lack thereof. Being educated in the trends, and the amount of effort/time you devote to the implementing of the trend knowledge is part of it. But where else do you get as much or more bang for your buck? Confidence. CONFIDENCE! Surely you’ve heard the rumor that confidence is key. And the rumor is true. Confidence is a big deal in commercials.
“Oh great, I’ll just go out and get some of that confidence” you sarcastically say to yourself. But you can, you know. You can’t buy it off the shelf but you can gain some with sheer effort. How? Knowledge from reputable sources. When you understand the commercial process, when it’s no longer a mystery, confidence comes and fear leaves. Really. But a whole heck of a lot of you are fine to live with some to a lot of mystery… which I believe leaves room for fear. Why not just demystify the process and carry on? Mentors and commercial classes are great for confidence. Just because you are a trained actor doesn’t mean you understand or are any good at the commercial audition. It’s a different beast.
Experience is a great confidence booster. If you aren’t getting in the room enough to gain confidence or would prefer to skip the time “building confidence to the detriment of your commercial audition” phase of your career… you can buy experience. Hire a coach, go to a class, go to an actor workout and audition over and over. If you don’t have the cash to do this until you are confident, download commercial copy and put yourself on tape and watch yourself. Learn what you need to adjust. Do it over and over until you look as good as the booked actors on TV. I’m not kidding. This works.
You are hired for who you are. The good, the bad and the ugly. If you are so inclined, tip the scales as much in your favor as possible. Study and implement the trends, gain the proper skills, and boost the confidence. There is too much power in your hands to let it slip through. Take the power and accept the unchangeable that makes you, you.