"I don't enjoy acting as much as I used to."
It's something few actors will say out loud, but many are thinking deep down, especially if they've been in the industry a few years.
It makes sense though!
Once you graduate and you're out in the real world, it's not just performance and living a character anymore.
Now you have to market yourself. You have to find your brand and type, and you need to figure out how to network.
But that's not the part that makes it so difficult - it's what all of that means and feels like.
As you can see from his old headshot, he looked intense and tried to command that strong, law enforcement look.
But the problem was that it wasn't resonating with casting directors, and he didn't feel pride in that brand.
Whenever he had an audition, he'd do his best to figure out what he thought the casting director wanted, and then he did as much preparation as possible (memorizing everything so he'd be off-book, creating an entire world for the character, and much more).
But after each audition, he heard those same, disheartening words: "Thanks, we'll let you know."
Tyrone eventually came to me asking for help figuring out his brand because he knew that in addition to my headshot work, I also work as an actor branding coach and marketing consultant.
African American strength, compassion, and pride.
And that's when everything changed.
Tyrone's face lit up. I could sense the complete change in his voice as he said his brand aloud. He literally became his brand.
Well, the results of that branding session were nothing short of astounding.
Suddenly, he was much clearer on everything, and the nervousness he felt before auditions evaporated COMPLETELY.
We were both so excited and inspired by his new brand that we decided to shoot an awesome new headshot AND a Singer's Reel for his website:
Tyrone finally had a brand he was truly proud of.
And in less than a month, he was offered his first role on Broadway (something he'd been trying to get for over seven years).
He was also offered a multi-day guest-star role in an HBO show two weeks later. And one week after that, he was offered representation by a well-known film & television agency in New York (a goal he'd been working towards without success for almost three years).
Tyrone told me that getting clear on his brand was what made the biggest, most immediate difference in his acting career.
Branding Quick Win:
- First, ask yourself, "What are two of my best personality traits that I feel proud of?" If you're a very caring and loving person, that's awesome. You can use the words "caring and loving." If you're intelligent and sharp, feel free to use those! Just think for a moment and pick two words you're proud of about yourself.
- Next, find a monologue or scene for a character you'd normally NEVER want to play. Come up with someone that you'd hate auditioning for just because you hate them as a person, and pick out a scene or a few lines that you could use as a mock audition.
- Set up your smartphone and record yourself performing the lines. Make sure you can easily see and hear yourself in the video.
- Now, pause the camera and take a moment to apply the two words you came up with earlier to the character. Convince yourself that deep down, the character I'm auditioning for is really "caring and loving" or "intelligent and sharp." Convince yourself that even though they don't seem that way on the surface in this scene, they really are that way at the deepest level.
- Next, rationalize why they are acting in a negative way in their life or in the scene. It's your job to create a backstory to explain how the character changed to who they are now, but how deep down, it's not their fault and they wish they could change back to their previous, good self.
- Finally, re-record yourself doing the scene. Now that you've given the character a reason for being the way they are, you should notice that you feel much more comfortable playing them.
- Watch both recordings and notice the difference between the first and second versions!
It's impossible to like every character you play and feel like they're a perfect fit for you. So instead, you can create a backstory to connect with the character at a deeper, internal level.
This makes it much easier to play any character without judging them or feeling like you're boxed in. You'll do a better job at auditioning and vastly increase the number of characters you can submit and get called in for!
On top of that, every character you play will seem much more interesting and multi dimensional! Try it out and see for yourself.
Now if you find out what your true brand is, this process you just went through will be even MORE powerful because the words you use will resonate with you at an even deeper level.
Will I Get Pigeonholed?
Branding (at least the way I do it) will not typecast or pigeonhole you.
The purpose of a brand is to help you find your emotional core so you know who you truly are as a person. A brand is not something designed to lock you into playing only one specific character.
Here are a few examples of brands:
- The strong hearted young teenager who hides her fear of never being good enough behind a mask of cheerfulness.
- The humble but funny priest who can be closed minded when things don’t go his way.
- The charismatic, compassionate, and funny big brother who can be naive at times.
The underlined parts are types (here's an actor types list you can reference if you want), and they will change over time based on the roles you choose to audition for, your age, and your physical appearance.
A brand, on the other hand, is something that has strong emotional energy attached to it - it's who you are as a person, and it will help you perform better in every legit or commercial audition you go to.
If you look at the sample brands above and notice the bolded words, you'll find what I call an actor's Pride Words, or the qualities within themselves that they are most proud of. When you focus on your Pride Words, all the nervousness you have before auditions evaporates completely, and you feel extremely grounded.
It's this inner self-confidence - from a brand you love - that will get you the callback and eventually the role.
Now when Tyrone worked with me, I was charging $250 to take actors through my 9-step branding process.
But now I've recorded the entire thing into a 18-minute video, and I'd like to give it to you as a gift.
Why? Because I want to help as many actors as I can start enjoying their acting work again, and start booking roles they LOVE playing.
Even if you think you're clear on your brand, I encourage you to watch the video.
The biggest takeaway you'll have is getting clear on your Pride Words - three simple words that will make a HUGE difference in your career over time.
Just knowing these three words will completely change your performance in auditions, making you much more relaxed and confident every time you go in the room.
I promise you'll see an uptick not just in the jobs you book, but in the fun you're having at each audition and on every set.
Just click the button below and you'll get access to the branding video immediately:
**No signup required.
Important: Don't take this process lightly just because I'm giving you the video for free.
It can seriously make a HUGE difference for you (just as it has for the many actors I've taught it to).
Want to learn more about branding?
Here's what a number of experts in the industry have to say about branding for actors:
Acting Teacher at Theatrical Artist's Prep
"A successful actor in my opinion is a beautiful, well-balanced combination of creative talent and business smarts. If you're viewing your acting career as your business (which you should be), then you should be viewing yourself as the product. That said, it's important the actor knows their type and brand so that they can effectively market and promote themselves. I tell my students/clients to think of any product on the market - soda, clothing etc. and then tell them to think of the numerous people on the marketing team working diligently to continuously better understand the product, the message they're sending through packaging and marketing and how those symbols, messages etc. are being received by potential customers. Knowing your type as an actor guides you through the industry and helps you stay on track and focused when submitting for auditions so that you're using your time and energy wisely.
"Branding for actors is like the secret sauce. Your brand is something that is 100% unique to you and is something that you feel sets you apart from everyone else auditioning. It's your edge. That said, you can talk about type and brand all you want but if you're not putting in the work to better yourself as a performer then chances are you won't work. If you're actively working on becoming a stronger actor, you'll find that figuring out how to market yourself will become a little easier.
"To find your type, I suggest looking through character breakdowns and seeing which ones you feel you are a good fit for. Highlight or circle keywords that pertain to you (your look, build, personality etc.). A little self reflection can help discover your brand. Again, your brand is your edge and is unique to you. What makes you interesting? Think of your special personality traits, your quirks and ticks. It's always helpful to ask others what their thoughts are as well. Jot down a list and see what things repeat. I think it's important to note that as human beings, we're always changing and evolving and therefore nothing is necessarily locked in stone when it comes to type and brand. Don't pigeonhole yourself. You should always feel free to stretch yourself as a performer and try something out of your comfort zone or "type/brand" as I truly feel that in those moments we grow the most both as a performer and person and you just never know where that may lead."
Casting Director at Franck Casting
“Talent and skills are the first place I look, as I cast mostly musicals. So vocal range, playing instruments, style of singing, dance ability… Age range and height can actually make or break whether someone is right for certain roles as well.
"Very specific people who play very specific age ranges and physical types are known because they seem unique and stand out - therefore they usually have embraced their type (people can also be limited by specific foreign accents or other specific attributes).
"However, if you are a very versatile actor.. it may be important to really point out what makes you special... That’s brand. Is it comedy? Is it a very strong special skill (are you an incredible singer or dancer)? Do you have a reel and a series of photos that shows your range? Are you also a writer? Do you have an internet presence? Anything that can create a draw to you, whether it be on the internet or in person, that solid presence can be created. That is branding for actors. Your type is a separate thing. And type can change simply with a few years of experience. “
Professor of Theater Arts at Centenary University
“Actors should only worry about being the most authentic versions of themselves they can be. There was no “Jeff Goldblum” type before Jeff Goldblum. There was no “Christopher Walken “ type before there was Christopher Walken. There is no “Nathan Lane” type. There is only Nathan Lane. If you worry about what type you are you are only trying to fit some pre-existing mold. Who cares?
"As far as leading man, juvenile, soubrette etc., your age and looks will determine them for you. There are no 50-year-old ingenues. Leading men can come in all shapes. We respond to the singular. Not the copy.
"Brand is a term I hate. It reduces the actor from the role of the artist to just a commodity. It is a commercial classification. Not an artistic one. It is ultimately a lie writ large because it has nothing to do with the essential talent of the performer. Only an image. An image is always a shallow reflection.”
Professional Actor & Acting Teacher at LaGuardia Acting School
“Branding for actors is crucial. It really speaks to casting directors who know what they're looking for and are trying to find actors that fit the criteria. It also benefits actors when they understand they're "brand" and their "type." Some actors get offended as in, "I'm an actor and I can play many different types and roles and I don't like being locked in the box of a specific brand or type." The problem is that casting offices often cast numerous projects at once and don't have the time to search through new faces or people that play against type. This means that if you're 6 foot 6 and 350 pounds - can you play the soft spoken school teacher? The actor says yes but more often than not, the industry says no.
"Many casting directors as well as producers and directors have tunnel vision. If you're short and stocky, they want to be sure you're funny. If you're big and scary looking, they want to be sure you can play that. So actors, should understand what their type is and direct the way they present themselves in that direction.
"To find one's type, I like to do an exercise where the rest of the class looks at an actor, literally we put them in the front of the class (this is after a few weeks where everyone knows each other a bit) and I ask the class, "OK, tell me what roles you see this person playing." And it's remarkable how well it goes. Sometimes it's general - The Cop, The Business Man, The Plumber, The School Teacher, The Cheerleader, the Mob Guy, etc... and that alone is very helpful. But sometimes it gets very specific like - Disgruntled Walmart Employee, Bouncer that lives in his mom's basement, stoner that wants to be a politician, the college football star who is secretly gay, etc. These different views often enlighten an actor to the way other people see them. This often reflects how CD's also see actors.
"Now, the brand is a style/look/vibe/talent that people grow to understand and expect. Especially people in the business. Oh this actress will bring light hearted humor and sex appeal with a warmth and an infectious laugh. This actor brings strength and excitement. He's intense and charismatic... When people watch these actors, they expect these qualities. That becomes their brand. I do NOT think a brand new actor should try to brand themselves because they haven't grown into it yet... it takes time. First get comfortable acting, become as real and believable as possible, then figure out your type, then move on to branding. Crawl/Walk/Run.”
Acting Teacher & Coach
However when assigning roles in my industry showcases I do type them in an effort to play to their strengths. While agent interest is subjective, actor reps are often looking specifically for a type of actor missing from their client roster. It is helpful for actors to eventually know how they come across and why.
Actors will discover their type by looking closely at how they are cast. As early as high school they will see a common thread in the roles they receive. While many actors strive to be ‘character actors’, disappearing unrecognizably inside their roles, most actors are cast in roles that play to their look, mannerisms, skill set or personality.
"A brand can both help and hinder an artist in their work. If they stick with their brand they can become typecast, but if they have a strong network of managers and agents, that pitfall can be avoided. There’s no formula for developing a brand. For myself, I utilized martial arts training for my work, but as I get older I’m looking to change and grow into a new brand.
"I believe brands and types to be alike in that they are both labels and for myself I find labels akin to being placed in a box. I don’t align with that kind of thinking, I wish to be open and ever changing like the seasons."
See his IMDB page here.
Professional Actor & Comedian
"Type is very important. The industry is always looking for type. Agents, casting directors, directors. They're all looking for type. The role has to fit an actor like a glove. At the beginning of his career, an actor has to typecast himself for the roles he is most likely to get. Once the type is clearly defined, agents and casting directors will have an easier time placing them.
"How to find your type? Ask around. Ask classmates in acting classes. And once you've found your type, make sure your headshot reflects it (see "what to wear for headshots") because that is your first and most important marketing tool. Typecasting yourself will make it easier to find an agent, get callbacks and get your first booking. You might be ready to play Chekhov but if you look like a hot dog vendor you better know that when you pose for your headshot!"
See his IMDB page here.
- Your type is mostly based on your physical attributes, like what you look like and sound like to others. Do they see you as a cop? Do they see you as a teacher? A gang member? A mom or grandma?
- Your brand is a combination of your type and your personality. It's something that's uniquely you and it makes you memorable and stand out. You could be a cop, but if you're also hilarious, you're now the "hilarious cop." Or you could look like a gangster, but if you're a very caring and warm person, you could be the "caring gangster." Sometimes brands can be interesting because when you combine things that normally don't go together, you might get something totally new - and memorable!
- Actors don't want to be pigeonholed, but the branding process I've discovered won't do that to you. The industry is already pigeonholing you based on your look, and by finding your Pride Words, you'll start doing better work by focusing on auditioning primarily for the character types you most connect with (instead of what you think they want). And of course you can always try something new every once in a while!
So is not having a brand hurting you?
Simply put - yes. You'd have a much easier time booking more work if you had a clearly defined brand and type, and you'd actually start enjoying your work more because you'll be playing characters that feel more "you."
So how can I find my brand?
My process is different than most other branding processes out there because of three special elements:
- Immediate & No Feedback Needed: Most branding and typing classes require you to ask others what they think of you and can take weeks. This process can be used in the comfort of your home and doesn't require you to speak to other people - you'll find your preliminary brand AND type in 20-30 minutes.
- Pride Words: By figuring out what you're unconsciously most proud of about yourself, your brand will resonate at a deeper level - which makes it way easier to stay focused and relaxed when you're auditioning!
- Dark Word: We'll also discover the dark side of your brand - something that will allow you to take every character you audition for and add a twist to it so it becomes WAY more interesting and compelling to casting directors.
Just click the button below and I'll send you the branding video immediately.
**Make sure to use a real email address or you won't receive the link.
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