Why Being Yourself Will Land You the Role by Marci Phillips, Executive Director of ABC Casting, Primetime

Marci Phillips - Being YourselfMarci Phillips, Executive Director of ABC Casting, argues why learning to be yourself can be the most important lesson taught at a New York acting school.

Everyone on the planet has a very distinct personality. An actor may be defined as someone who observes and portrays a character’s psyche, but everything is ultimately filtered through one’s own prism. We all – actors, casting directors, producers and directors – come from a particular vantage point and bring our own unique life experience to whatever we do.

The audition process can take as little as one day or as long as many months, but the goal is always the same: to find the right actor for the role. But what does “the right actor” mean? If everyone had the exact same opinion, we’d just bring that one person in, cast him or her, and be done with it! You can read a breakdown and say “This is me! I’m perfect for this!” but there are literally hundreds of other actors responding that same way to that same role at the same time. When you walk into the audition, you don’t know what preconceived notions the casting director has for this. You don’t know if there’s something in the director‘s history that’s coloring his or her conception of the character. You may have read the script but you may not know what the writer is actually visualizing here. So what can you do?

Trust yourself.

You may be spending too much time trying to decipher what “they” want and not enough time crafting the best way that this role can be illuminated through your one-of-a-kind spirit! It’s your imagination and individual experience that will color your choices. No one wants you to give the exact same audition as the 20 actors that came in before you and the 20 actors that will come in after you.

Don’t be afraid of your instincts. If you’re trying to please everyone, you can easily lose what is special about you and end up pleasing no one. Always stay within the parameters of what’s organically honest for the role, the scene, and the world you’re portraying, but if a choice strikes you as particularly funny or poignant, don’t be afraid of it!

Obviously those choices won’t always be on the mark for what “they” want, but you aren’t a mind reader and we don’t expect you to be! Casting directors simply want you to come in with a well-defined, intelligent take. If you’re right for the role, then we (or the director or the producer) will guide you from there.

Along the way you will certainly lose roles because of your individuality, but don’t let that deter you. This same individuality is what lands you the roles that will make your career.

Be fearless!

Marci Phillips is the Executive Director of ABC Casting. The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to Marci Phillips and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of ABC, Disney or any of its subsidiaries. Marci is the author of “The Present Actor – A Practical and Spiritual Guideline to Help You Enjoy the Ride” available on Amazon.com.

Why Your Appearance Matters at Auditions by Marci Phillips, Executive Director of ABC Casting, Primetime

Marci Phillips - Being YourselfMarci Phillips, a New York casting director for ABC, makes the case for looking your best for every audition, no matter the role.

I truly believe that everyone has a unique beauty. That being said, there are societal standards and realities for most on camera talent that you simply can’t ignore if you want to be in serious contention for the job!

Not every successful actor is “beautiful” in the culturally accepted way, but they all understand exactly how to make the most of what they’ve got. There are some very specific roles that may be served best by a plain or haggard look, but most on-camera roles (series regular, many guest and co-stars, as well as leading roles and many smaller roles in film) require that you come in to the audition looking your personal best.

Ladies, consider how you would spend a long time on your hair and makeup when going out on a hot date. You don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard, but you want to look great. If you’re a klutz with a blow-dryer, get lessons from your stylist. If you don’t have great makeup skills, get lessons from a makeup artist. These are tax deductible items in your profession, so no excuses! The difference in how you’ll look and feel will definitely be noticeable, and confidence is very attractive to us!

I’ve had actors say “but this role is a doctor” or “in this scene she’s just in the supermarket.” Well, show me the series regular doctor that doesn’t have her eyeliner and lip-gloss. Show me the film star strolling through the supermarket with crappy looking hair. I’m not saying to force yourself into an uncomfortable image that doesn’t suit you; there are many roles that don’t require the size 2 gorgeous girl or the hunk. I’m talking about coming in as your own “after picture.”

Do you think that you can audition without concern for your hair and makeup because we can imagine what you’ll look like after a team of stylists have worked their magic on you? Whether we can or cannot, with stakes this high, no one wants to “imagine” anything. They usually have to see what they’re getting, right in front of them, in order to commit to you. Unless you’re already a well-known actor, the audition is the only place to show them what you’ll bring to the table – including what you look like on camera. With IMAX screens and 60 inch HD TV’s, there’s very little room for guesswork and you have to walk in at 110 percent!

Although the guys do have it easier than the ladies, you’re not completely off the hook. Do you see series regulars or leads in films with pimples? Dark circles under their eyes? Shiny foreheads? The answer (unless it’s done for a very specific storyline) is NO. So don’t come in that way! These guys don’t all have perfect skin, but they all sit in a make-up chair before any filming starts! If you have any of the above skin issues, have a makeup savvy friend or a professional makeup artist help you pick out the right shade of powder or concealer and teach you how to apply it undetectably. (It should never look like you’re wearing makeup!) At the very least, get a flattering haircut and clothes that fit you. We should never be thinking “that guy really needs a makeover”!

Do you think all of this is asinine? Maybe, but here’s a better question – do you want this job or not?

Marci is the Director of Casting for ABC primetime as well as the author of “The Present Actor – A Practical and Spiritual Guideline to Help You Enjoy the Ride“. She casts regular series, sitcoms, and movies of the week for ABC. Marci was voted “Favorite Film/TV Casting Director” in the 2009 Readers Choice Awards for Backstage.

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