As actors we are our own small businesses, we are in charge of our careers, their direction and inevitably their success and failure.
As actors we are our own small businesses, we are in charge of our careers, their direction and inevitably their success and failure. Many people will probably disagree with that statement and will argue “The industry is luck” or “Right place, right time,” but isn’t it more comforting to think that you have some control, rather than being a bottle tossed at the whim of the industry? I think that taking ownership and responsibility for your career and being proactive about its direction is incredibly powerful. We have advisors, agents and mentors, but the final say is up to you. One step in the process of controlling your career is the concept of Personal Branding. So I thought I would give you a run down on some of the basics of branding, what it is, and why you should be thinking about it. Firstly a definition; a brand is a set of perceptions that a person has when they think of a product or service (their initial reaction). Ultimately, a brand is aiming to encompass the “YOU” you wish to portray to the industry and the wider community. To start Personal Branding, four key questions to ask yourself are:
- How do you see yourself?
- How do others see you?
- Where are the differences?
- How do you communicate this?
Why is Personal Branding important for actors? Firstly, it helps you to work out the roles that you will be considered for, and work towards them. Secondly if it turns out your idea of yourself is vastly different to how you are perceived then you need to sit down and analyse why this may be so. This doesn’t mean that you have to choose a ‘personality’ and stick to it, that you can’t be yourself, or that you have to be always ‘on’. It is about considering how you are viewed and aiming to keep it consistent. Do your headshots match your personality? Are your favourite audition songs supporting how you would like to show yourself? Do casting directors see what you are aiming for? If not, it may be in your best interests to MAKE them change their minds, or align more closely with what they are seeing. Consider this situation: You aspire to be cast in a role that is coming up for audition: a young, charming romantic lead. You believe your skills are perfect for this role. If you have managed to exude young, charming and romantic ‘leadishness’ every time you have met the director in the past whether at an audition, or at an opening night they will already have a positive feeling when you walk into the room. You have already given them reasons to cast you, now all you have to do is confirm their beliefs and you are in with a chance. I am not talking about creating a false personality or pretending to be someone that you are not. I believe that it is about finding out who you truly are, playing to that, and letting your natural personality do the work for you. In a word, your ‘essence.’ Discover who you are, and what your essence is. ?What are your strengths? ?What makes you unique? ?What are you going to bring to this production that no one else can? ??If you can walk into an audition room, having already answered those questions, (coupled with adequate preparation), you will already feel much more at ease, more comfortable and confident with what you are offering. This also will remove pressure from the casting team. If you have worked out where you fit and what you can offer, then they don’t need to. After all, you are asking them to buy your product. You need to know exactly what your product is, why they need it and be ready to sell it with confidence. So this is the start of branding, being comfortable in your brand, owning your brand. It will allow you to shine through, giving you the best possible chance to be cast in something that you are truly right for and can excel at. Hopefully will lead on to bigger things. Matt’s Murmurs is sponsored by Emptyhead Actors Websites. Producing websites for actors and artists: http://www.emptyhead.com.au/actorswebsites.html