Your Actor Brand: How do YOU come through?
What do you know about “branding?” Is it different than “type?” Is it important to consider, as an actor?
Some of my actor friends tell me that they don’t believe in branding or they think that branding is another way of looking at type or type-casting. Or branding makes them less cast-able because, by definition, it streamlines their marketing and messaging. In our industry, especially in TV/film, the idea of type and type-casting (and casting “against type”) certainly should not be ignored. Here are a few words on type in a blog from Bonnie Gillespie. Read it now!
In my opinion, “type” is kind of out of the actor’s control. How directors, casting directors, my agent, my friends, and other actors perceive me is out of my control, and based on their experience of me and my work. Branding, on the other hand, is completely controlled by me. I get to decide how my essence or my story is communicated through my personal interactions with people and through media (website, social media, my actor marketing materials, etc.).
My headshot and resume’ communicate my brand:
Let’s talk more, shall we?
I recently attended a talk produced by The Film School. The speaker was branding guru, Tim Girvin, and his presentation blew my mind. I will now hope to share a few key points, in order to give you a better idea of why I think branding is important to the actor, especially when it comes to casting and how we are perceived.
What is branding?
Branding is, essentially, how you tell your story and communicate yourself to your community. A branding campaign (conscious or not) is akin to “a slow burning fuse” – your message is getting out there day by day, bit by bit, and your audience learns more and more about you as you share your stories. If you are active on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.), you can probably grasp how the idea of progressive storytelling (of self) and how being the CEO of your brand (and, therefore, in control of what information gets out), can help (or hinder) someone understand “who you are and what you stand for.”
How do you come across?
One thing you can do in order to get a better sense of how other people perceive you and your brand (essence, vibe, core values, etc.) is to ask. Make sure you ask more than just your family, loved ones, and close friends. Ask people who you have recently met. Tell them why you are asking, so you don’t come off as rather odd and needy, and ask for their honesty. If you receive a pattern of answers that don’t match your version of the “essential you,” then maybe you need to work on bringing the message you intend to tell “up” a few levels, so it’s more easily “seen” when you are interacting with people one-on-one and when you are messaging (words, images, videos) on social media.
“You want to be unforgettable.” – Tim Girvin.
As an actor, we want to be unforgettable. And for the *right* reasons. Don’t be *that* actor who is late for auditions, doesn’t prepare, posts with abandon on FB, and can’t take the time to get his resume’ properly formatted.
“Who are you and who cares?” – Tim Girvin.
It’s very important to share your uniqueness. How are you different and what makes you distinct? Take a day to reflect upon and write out your story (remember, branding is about communicating your story). Ask yourself:
- What do I do that is different?
- Where am I from, and how does that have meaning?
- What am I currently exploring?
“It’s chemistry and vibration that truly empowers connectivity.” – Tim Girvin.
Connecting with people in person is a dying art form in the age of the smart phone, tablet, and social media. “We were born with two ears and one mouth for a reason,” said someone, somewhere, at sometime. Don’t forget, my actor, when you are getting your message out and sharing yourself with others, that it is equally (if not more) important to be a real listener. Be there there with your audience, community, humanity. Receive and give. And, finally, in the words of my teacher Steven Anderson, “Be Authentic.” For me, this is the key for branding as an actor. Be and market your version of the authentic, beautifully unique you. That’s who people want to see and get to know.
Thank you for reading,