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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