Guilty. I am guilty. I’m guilty of searching the Internet or talking to any number of people until I find the study or person who says what I’m looking to hear. A glass of red wine each day will help you live longer. Who am I kidding, let’s go with THREE glasses of red wine. Butter is good for you. Coffee is good for you. Cardio isn’t the key to losing weight; certainly not jogging. Laughter is more effective in curing cancer than chemo. One of my favorite pastimes is to find someone or something that will corroborate whatever serves me to believe is true. I’m convinced you can find a study that will report your desired results, no matter how outlandish it may be. I’m beginning to believe I have this in common with many commercial actors.
Commercial actors should never . . . stop believin.’
There is a lot of information about commercials out there. There is no shortage of commercial actors, and even teachers, sharing information (and misinformation) and opinions stated as fact. It’s nutty and therefore completely understandable that it can be difficult to get to the truth. My short and sweet suggestions when processing information is to consider the source (whether it’s a person or publication), make sure you are talking specifically about commercial vs. theatrical, and, if possible, determine if the info is current in a rapidly changing industry.
But that’s not exactly what I hope to address.
Let’s go back to the idea that you can find a study or person/expert to backup whatever you believe. I’ve had a chat with a surprising number of what I consider savvy and informed actors filled with solid industry knowledge that will bust out with a random crazy idea stated as fact. The one that comes to mind is, “90% of booking a commercial has to do with your appearance.” Wait, what? Huh? Who told you that? Where did that come from? And I’d like to return that crazy statistic with my own favorite, “75% of all statistics are made up.” Now that could be made up, too . . . I found it on the internet from a 2011 article. But you get the idea. And let me, for the record, debunk the appearance myth. It is absolutely TRUE that appearance matters in commercials. But if you fall in the specs (age, ethnicity, gender) and general description like pretty, rugged, charactery, then it ceases to be about appearance. When you are given an audition, you can book the job. For the most part, and yes there are exceptions, it’s a great time to be a good actor in commercials. We, the “powers that be” are far more interested in your comedic ability or how natural and subtle, warm and likable you can be than what you look like (after passing the specs guidelines). I cheer when I get a “looks only” job because they are rare and much easier on me because they are much less time consuming. I spend my day pouring over resumes as a commercial casting director. Yes, things have changed my friends.
I can’t help but believe actors might choose their facts based on how much they currently do or don’t believe in themselves. If an actor has gone out on numerous commercial auditions and never got a callback, it’s completely understandable one might want to believe it’s a looks thing. I GET IT. I’d be tempted do it too. It seems like a very human thing to do. But, if we are going to choose facts, why not use your power to choose for good by making the positive choice. Cue the music. Don’t stop believin.’
If I had to narrow it down to one thing actors should start believing as fact it would be:
You have power.
There are things you (and sure your agent, but I mean YOU) can do to get more auditions.
There are things you can do to be more confident/better in the room.
Commercials are NOT a numbers game. You don’t have to go out on a certain number of auditions to book a job. Your callback ratio can be 50%! Your booking ratio can be very good or very bad. It’s possible to go out on 100 auditions and book nothing, just like you can go out on ten and book three. You have power over your callback/booking ration. Believing commercials are a numbers game is robbing you of your power and encourages inaction. I vote “no” on that.
What I’m encouraging you to do today is stop believing things that take all the power out of your hands. Don’t adopt weird facts as truth. It may make perceived failure feel better, but it’s not helping your career. If 75% of statistics are made up, and it doesn’t seem we can get around that, why not adopt some good, strong, positive ones that make your talent and skill as a major component in your success?! When you are in the room, that is a fact. Whether you prefer the Journey or Glee version . . . turn up the Don’t Stop Believin’ riiiiight now.
**Want to take a 4-week Commercial Class with Laurie Records? Check it out and sign up now at: www.laurierecordscasting.com.**