The purpose of your headshots is to market you, your energy, types and talent. That comes through your eyes, facial expression and body language. You must always elicit your Castable Types from the inside as well as the outside. Don’t just sit there and listen to music or chat away between the flash. Be in the prior moments of the appropriate Castable Type monologues so that you are truly, deeply and honestly projecting the life of the character. Be in their world, not yours, or the photographers. Your headshot must say something; speak for you when you aren’t there to do it in person, essentially auditioning for you before you ever get a call. Make sure it does the job nd isn’t another run of the mill actor pic that hits the trash can rather than the submission file. Check out the difference in these two Castable Types Headshot Makeovers below. Each of the Actors featured had a significant upsurge in interest and response from the industry once they put their new Castable Type headshots into circulation. If you want to turn your headshots into a truly effective marketing tool for your acting career and get noticed, I take you through the process step-by-step in my webinar course, 7 Steps To Launch + Grow Your Acting Career. You can get the webinar here, https://www.independentactor.com/7-steps-webinar-sign-up1. If you’d like to sample before you buy, sign up for a free 60 minute webinar version of the course at this link: https://events.genndi.com/register/818720503324737652/d3c6c9e720.
Why do so many wonderful actors never get the chance to use their talent? Why do well-trained actors fail to convince casting directors to book them for jobs and agents to take them on as clients? Why do so many actors find they're chasing after any career opportunity as opposed to creating a career they love? The simple answer is most actors have no understanding of their Castable Types® and without that crucial knowledge and insight, a majority of actors will fail at their creative career goals.
Understanding your Castable Types is more than saying I'm this or that type. It's having a thorough, in-your-bones knowledge of what is unique about your talent, how that can set you apart from the competition, giving you a recognizable identity as an actor. It builds demand for your talent. It becomes your area of acting expertise in the market. Strengthening and then using the unique and essential qualities that make up your Castable Types allows actors to take their work to Performance Level by bringing specificity, energy, relatability and nuance to every role. That is what casting directors look for in actors. That is what gets you to the final callback. That is what persuades a director to take a risk on a fresh face or an actor who differs from the breakdown and give him or her a chance. That is what tells an agent your talent is worth the investment.
Right now, you may be thinking, what are Castable Types?
If you think of your career as a small business - which is what it really is, your Castable Types are your unique selling proposition. Don’t let the word selling freak you out. You are selling your talent, your artistry and showing the industry what roles you can successfully bring to life at every audition and callback. The job of talent agents and managers is to pitch and sell your talent. You can’t pitch or sell actors/talent that is undefined, amorphous and general. Your Castable Types set you apart from the competition, giving you a recognizable identity as an actor. They build demand for your talent. They are your area of expertise, your place in the talent market.
Lets define it: Your Castable Types are the roles or characters you not only play well but embody, then relate fully and authentically to the audience or camera. They are the roles which, from the point of view of casting directors, agents and theatrical directors, fit you as an actor because you live the role and energize the material. Your Castable Types are the role’s you portray more effectively than other actors in the commercial and theatrical arena, both emotionally and physically.
By understanding your Castable Types, using the right techniques to achieve Performance Level work and having a clearer, current grasp of the industry, actors can finally make a successful and sustaining acting career a reality. You can learn how to define and use your Castable Types with my book, Your Castable Types.
It saddens me to see actors struggle to understand what some people call the “business side of the business” and be told by so-called experts that it’s something separate from creativity, almost like a burden you have to bear...and I’m frustrated by those “acting experts” who haven’t done much professional work in years and teach outdated acting technique that’s nothing more than a series of imagination exercises ending in lots of discussion about the exercises but not a lot of professional level performance or follow through on how to use imagination in actual working situations on the kinds of projects being produced today. I’m especially saddened watching actors spend all their money on endless scene classes where memorization gets you brownie points but your skill set is no better off and your unique talent remains underdeveloped. Your talent, creativity and imagination are the tools you need to succeed in the acting industry. They are your business! Knowing how to develop, polish and present them is simply an extension of who you are as a performing artist and when you have great, focused, authentic marketing tools and a reliable, accessible performance level audition and acting technique, you have a tool kit other actors lack. I can teach you how to put these elements together so you can launch, grow and sustain an acting career that makes you happy and becomes your reality.
Your Castable Types are, of course, shaped in part by your physical appearance. The only time it isn’t considered is in voiceovers. But keep in mind that societal and cultural influences are constantly and exponentially expanding the definitions of beauty, masculinity, fitness and what is “camera ready”. In most cases, your appearance should give definition to your Castable Types rather than determine them. You do that by integrating your physical appearance with your Castable Types. For instance, many of us are hyper-focused on our weight but there are many other facets of appearance which inform your Castable Types, like physical life and voice, just to name two. These are outward aspects of your energy that are very relatable to the camera or audience. A beautiful full-figured actor with a smoldering voice, who brings sensual intensity to words and movement across the stage or on camera can be far more compelling and authentically sexy than a model thin one who moves and speaks awkwardly and self-consciously. If you’re a size 18 female you may not be cast as the next Bond Girl but then again, you never know. You could certainly be cast in a role that calls for a sense of sexuality, of sensuousness or seduction if those are qualities you radiate authentically. It just may not be in a formulaic vehicle. And that may only be one of your Castable Types. Embracing your personal Castable Types and developing the elements you radiate authentically will allow you to perform using all those parts of your talent and not feel less than or eliminated by your physical appearance because it’s integrated in your Castable Type. That’s what we want as actors, that’s when we do amazing work! Bringing your look into harmony with your Castable Types is crucial to developing your talent to a professional level and often easier than you might think.
A burning question most emerging Actors have, the one your Mom probably asks you, is why do so many talented actors never get the chance to use their talent, many seeming to never even get out of the starting gate? The simple answer is that no one tells them how to attain their creative goals, establish artistic credibility and how to build a professional acting career. They don’t have the core, required information, that working blueprint they can follow to get an acting career off the ground in a sustainable way so many of those talented actors, often the smartest ones, decide they won’t even try because they refuse to set themselves up for failure. Others bluster ahead and feel like they may be going in the right direction and gaining momentum for a time, but inevitably hit roadblocks that cost them in big ways. Usually, to the point that it pulls the rug out from under anything they might have achieved so far. I see this a lot with people who get an agent or manager to submit them a couple of times, often for parts cast mainly on physical appearance or age - though the actor may not know that, and maybe they book something once or twice, and then they get nothing else and the agency or manager drops them. A little bit of forward motion that ends up hurting you because you now have to explain why that agency dropped you to the agents and managers you try to get to represent you next.
You don’t want to go down a path of very predictable trials and errors, chipping away at your creative, financial and emotional capital until you feel used up and hopeless about ever realizing your dreams. You can’t just decide to get headshots one day, slap a scene you’ve done four or five times in class on a reel and put it on the internet or send it to some agents and think anything real will come of that. That isn’t a career plan its a chore list. To get yourself off that well worn path of futility and go from struggle to progress right away you need to:
Get Industry-savvy guidance so you can begin to plan out your career goals in a real way because saying I just want to be in something is the kiss of death. It shows that you know nothing about the industry and are probably not in it for the long haul. Frankly its what fame whores and fools say.
Don’t solicit or accept advice from people who aren’t actively working in the industry. This includes family, significant others and your friends.
Learn to identify advertorials and promotions in the trades - this goes for schools too! Just because they have a celeb alum or former client has no bearing on the present.
Stop looking for shortcuts and wishing for silver bullets
Make and embrace necessary changes.
It can take a little time to get a handle on how any industry really works and who the reliable professionals are at each rung of the ladder but you have to find the right people to advise and mentor you and you will make mistakes along the way. Just don’t fall for the idea that one connection, one agent, one gig, one chance will put your acting career where you want it to be. It’s all a building process so make sure your foundation is solid.
Next, get professional performance level coaching - this is what establishes your artistic credibility. This is absolutely crucial. This is not where you skimp in terms of your time or your financial investment:
Private Coaching is more intense and demanding but yields the best results.
Understand that College and Conservatory training rarely translates to performance level work when you’re out in the real world.
Learn how to audition, ace callbacks and interviews - that means learning how to break down a scene or commercial copy on the spot and then apply your deeper work, through those choices, to the script at hand. It means learning how to improvise and incorporate adjustments and make clear choices on a dime that bring you and what’s uniquely you to the fore. It means doing Performance Level work. The work done in class isn’t usually at that level. It means knowing what a successful agency interview or go see is like and practicing those as well. Yes, you can actually practice for interviews! (It took me forever to learn to interview - here’s a secret, shorter is better
DIlligently and consistently put in the required capital (time, effort and money) consistently on a continuing basis its the only way to sustain a professional career:
To achieve performance level work, you must practice four to five times a week as well as read and view. This is your investment of time
Marketing your talent requires creation of a plan of action and the time commitment to see it through. This is your investment of effort
This is a career not a crash diet. It isn’t going to happen in six weeks or six months. You must learn how to finance your career costs. This is your investment of money
There really are no short cuts to building a sustainingand fulfilling acting career. What may seem like a lucky break is usually the sum total of all the work done before. As Actors, we have to live Shakespeare’s words from Troilus and Cressida, joy’s soul lies in the doing.
Here's your opportunity to be the leading man in 12 Years A Slave director, Steve McQueen's new project for HBO.
This Saturday, August 23rd, at the Harlem School for the Arts, located at 645 Saint Nicholas Ave. in New York City, from 10AM to 1PM, the casting and production team for Steve McQueen's still untitled HBO pilot, will be conducting what they say will be its only casting call in New York.
Holding the open call is casting director Cindy Tolan. Tolan will run the open call auditions, which McQueen, it has been emphasized, will not be present for. According to Tolan, “No experience is necessary. They are just looking for a quality individual."
All black men between the ages of 20 to 40 are invited. Casting directors will also look at dancers, musicians and anyone with any interest in being a part of the project.
The HBO pilot is centered around a young African-American man's experience entering New York high society.
ISTA stands for Inside The Area, which is a term familiar to Atlantans. I had the pleasure of guesting on the Inside The Area Entertainment Spotlight show hosted by Kevin and Ashley. These two smart, insightful and fresh Atlanta-based talents give great interview! We talked in depth about what it really takes to have a career as a performing professional and why so many talented people get sidetracked. It's such a treat for me to engage in a probing and witty conversation about my favorite topic and passion in life, Acting, Directing and Creating! Kevin and Ashley were the perfect people to do it with and I think you'll enjoy listening for yourself:
I'm in the middle of a publicity blitz in support of my book, Your Castable Types. Many performers shy away from the publicity process even though they're aware of how crucial it is to the success of any project and generating opportunities to do more work in the future. I believe the reason for this is twofold: actors don't like to do the work of creating a media kit for their projects or formulate insightful and engaging questions and answers about themselves and what they're promoting. Much like putting together an acting resume, it requires facing your work head on, looking it straight in the eye and determining what about it is worth the public's time and attention. Is it "good enough" for reporters, reviewers and show hosts to cover? Is it really the best work you have to offer at this point in time? Do you have the confidence to stand by your credits and creations? That's heady stuff to be sure, and for many performers, the answer is no. That makes blowing off the publicity process much easier, doesn't it? If no one sees your work than it will never be judged. Your family and small circle of trusted friends will support your effort without considering the actual merits of the work itself. Putting yourself out there in front of an audience isn't all that risky if you know you'll get pats on the back every time. It's the acting equivalent of playing t-ball. Everyone gets a prize and pizza slices for showing up. There's not much creative development, career growth or artistic contribution in that nonsense, although it goes on all the time. When I hear performers say that doing publicity feels too businesslike or manipulative, I want to call b.s. on them. We don't perform for ourselves alone. We create for the betterment, enrichment and entertainment of our audiences. We create to provoke, enlighten, inform and challenge. If audiences don't know we're out there, if they can't find our work or determine that the cost of a ticket to see our performances are worth it, then we aren't Professional Artists. We're mere dilettantes. We might be in a big city but we're really doing the equivalent of community theater for our own entertainment and to show off to our friends.
Doing publicity in support of your work forces you to look at it with a clear and discerning eye, find it's essential elements and clearly articulate them to audiences and the press. It's through this process that the public can find your work and perhaps, producers, distributors, sponsors and decision makers as well. It's also one of the best ways that you, the performer and artist, can determine if your work is ready for an audience. If you can honestly and enthusiastically promote what you've created and know that, whatever your creation is, it will be of interest to an audience, contribute to the cultural discourse or just entertain the hell out of people, then it's ready to take flight.
After the arduous process of writing a book that laid out my unique approach to acting, training and career development, then going through the mind numbing tedium of editing, and design, the very last thing I felt like doing was creating a media kit for it and getting out there to promote it. But I challenged myself to complete that last task before the book hit the shelves. At the end of the process, I was so exhausted from all the work that when the publisher sent me a box filled with glossy copies of my books, I didn't jump up to open it. The box sat in the corner, untouched for longer than I care to admit. That exhaustion came from putting my heart, soul and head into it's creation. It was an honest, hard won exhaustion. The meaningful content was there. My publisher knew it and promoted it to retailers. I began to get calls, texts and emails from colleagues and complete strangers who were buying, reading and loving the book. Your Castable Types was influencing actors for the better, the feedback was uniformly positive and I was ready to build on my hard work and the positive reaction of the public. If I had caved to my fatigue and put off that last, crucial element of my project - the media kit - I would never have been ready to jump into the saddle of promotion and publicity. That would have been a shame because after every interview and promotional event, good things happen. Actors are benefiting from the content of my book and I'm getting to work with a whole new group of talented people from all over the country and the world. Plus, it's fun! Talking to show hosts, answering listener questions and being immersed in what I love, Acting and Creating, is complete joy for me. I accomplished a goal I always dreamed of doing and saw it through to completion, even though I was tearing my hair out by the end of the process. Now, I get to enjoy what I created and the positive reactions to it. If I hadn't done that last step and created a media kit, if I had allowed exhaustion, moments of self doubt and burn out to win, I would have a box of books that I might never have opened and the chance to share my talent and develop professional, creative opportunities pass by unclaimed.
As always, I'd love to read your comments and feedback and know more about how you approach the challenge of publicity for your creative work.
I was a interviewed today by the intrepid Michael Dresser on his eponymous radio show. Our conversation veered into the world of Hollywood leading men and the quality of big studio films. it was a blast. Michael is a terrific host with a wonderful appreciation of actors, performance and film. It was a fun, fast moving interview and I'd like to thank Michael Dresser and Suzy Greenman for having me on their show. You can listen to our conversation here:
Presenting the freshly redesigned IndependentActor website! It's been a long process to create a user-friendly site, uncluttered by advertising, to serve the needs of all the IndependentActors out there but I believe the job is complete and Emma-approved. In the next few weeks I'll be introducing you to a wonderful series of webinars to help you launch, grow and sustain your acting career. If you're already on my email list you'll receive invitations to listen in for free and get career essential bonuses. If you aren't yet on the mailing list, do sign up today to get those freebies.
You'll also see this blog take off with posts on acting, film, theatre, reviews and interviews. I hope you'll enjoy all that's coming to the new IndependentActor site and join in the conversation in the comment section. The dog and I would love to hear from you.