The Last Thing an Actor Needs Is to Work on Their Branding
You don’t need to brand yourself. Or rebrand yourself, or whatever other nonsense you may have been sold in a workshop or wherever you picked it up. Acting is about being authentic. If you’re ‘branding’ yourself, you’re adding an unnecessary layer. You’re redirecting attention away from what is real about you.
In London, alone – there are thousands of actors. Probably hundreds within your casting bracket. You don’t stand out from the pack by clever branding, you stand out by being YOU!
Say you’re 22, female, and blonde. Or let’s say you’re a 28 year old brown haired guy with a London accent. There are TONS of actors just like you.
How to stand out?
Not by ‘working on your brand’.
You stand out by being yourself. By removing the blandity (possibly not a real word) that comes from trying to fit a certain type, based on what you think a casting director wants to see.
Because the truth is, there is actually nobody else like you. Put ten young blonde actresses into a room and they may seem similar at first, they may even look a-like, but if the casting is for ‘pretty girl next door’ and you’ve branded yourself as ‘pretty girl next door’, you’ve made yourself more generic than is necessary.
Because when a girl next door gets cast, we look for the edge that’ll make them interesting. Maybe the actress who talks a mile-a-minute is right. Or maybe the one who looks quiet but has a really sharp edge. Or maybe it’s the one who is shy yet fierce.
Your unique quirks and mannerisms are what set you apart. When we look at Tom Hanks in movies, we see he has great range in what he can do – but what impresses us and makes him relatable are his own traits, the little things that make him-him. Just like how people gush over Jennifer Lawrence, saying “she’s just so normal and real!”
Yes, Jennifer Lawrence is normal in the sense that she’s totally herself – which makes her abnormal, and memorable! What makes you memorable?
You are absolutely nothing like Jennifer Lawrence. Maybe you’re more straight-forward, or a little bit more awkward, or perhaps you’re fiery and loud. Whatever it is, it’s you!
When I’m creating showreels, I try to encourage actors to think more about who they really are, and to bring that to the table when we’re filming.
The casting process has changed in the last decade. There are more actors than ever, and more diverse characters on screen than in the past. Used to be, if they wanted a murderer on TV, it’d be a forty-five year old lonely male, because that’s what murderers looked like on TV.
But now, you don’t need to brand yourself to be ‘dark and mysterious’, because on TV, a murderer can look like anyone. So when you say ‘I want to brand myself as a dark and mysterious character actor’, what does that even mean!? It means you’re basing your ‘branding’ on a notion of cliches, of past performances, and I have no doubt it’ll mean obscuring and covering-up your interesting edges!
I’m sure you have versatility and I have no doubt you want to prove it. But the key thing is to show the versatility within the confines of who you are. And it’s not really a confine at all – it’s where you’ll find the most freedom.
The old cliche that everyone is taken except for yourself is true, especially when it comes to casting.
Branding is a way of numbing down your weird and rough edges, of shaping yourself to what you perceive the industry wants. This is an awful idea. What the industry wants, and needs, is the real you.
Sure, rebranding may get you a little work if you’re in the right place at the right time. But dropping all of that and showing us who you really are will make you unmistakably different to those around you – and those outliers are who people want to hire.
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