note: the above is a specific commercial shot, it does not necessarily represent the full wardrobe/brand overhaul I mention farther down below, this is my “camping/beer drinking girl” shot 😉
I hate this already. I am cringing my way though this with my semi-botoxed forehead. I hate “personal branding’“ in everyday conversation, it makes me feel like a wannabe blogger/influencer. But I’ll do it for you guys.
I am re-branding this year. I am leveling up my look, my photos, my reel…all of it. Let’s break it down.
I collect data from my auditions and keep various tabs on what’s happening in the big picture. To do this I have used notebooks and phone notes and various sticky notes that I inevitably lose, so last year I started keeping it in a google spreadsheet (I can fill it out in the waiting room that way). I highly recommend keeping your data in whatever way you can maintain! I then assessed this sheet in January. And I was not thrilled. The consistency in types of roles I was being called in for was nonexistent. They were all super random. And the women (and sometimes men) who ended up booking them were so very different than me. I had some consistency with casting directors which was great, but no real solid branding that seemed to stick. I wasn’t telling casting exactly how to book me, and since the “be a blank slate” is no longer relevant in today’s high paced casting world, I needed to find my in.
The more I thought about this the more I realized I have had these types of “who are you?” conversations in different capacities over the years: I had a meeting with my last theatrical agent two years ago and by the end she said to me, “wow, you have so many more layers and edges than anyone realizes from your photos!” (hello massive clue I ignored) and my manager approached me last year about niching down my type to find my “in” since I didn’t have enough credits to stand out from my casting group (yet another missed opportunity to really look at my overall package). AND when looking at my bookings of the last 4-5 years, I book roles that are strong, upperclass, educated, and just slighting on the “mean girl” scale. HELLO SAM, this is your RAW DATA.
So in January of 2020, I chatted with a lot of people over a short period of time including friends, fellow actors, my manager, agents, etc. all about their thoughts. I collected this data too. And we came to a pretty across-the-board conclusion: My brand is wildly unspecific.
I currently have [had] long light brown hair, headshots in Target tee’s (which is also what I wore to auditions), and am never sure if I should wear lipstick. I have more or less aged out of the “girl next door” but never updated my outside appearance. After almost 9 years in this game, I have not really updated my aesthetic to fit my current life energy. I look like a babysitter but walk into the room with the energy of a lawyer and the voice of an upperclass bitch. They don’t know what box I am in and honestly…I kinda didn’t either. So I decided to make some moves.
Let’s preface this with the face that I am in recover for body dysmorphia/eating issues, and as I consider recovery a long long process, I am not going to talk about my body here. I am instead going to throw money at the things I can change based on the energy I bring into a room. Super fun. Like: Hair- it needs to be distinct and updated, mature and refined a touch…I’m chopping it off and dying it darker. I play darker deeper roles well and right now I look like I am trying to get cast as someone’s dog walker. Clothes: I have taken a lot of branding workshops (like this great one by SAG), used my data listed above, and had enough conversations with pros to know that I come off as educated and upscale, therefore I need to match the look to the fabric if you will. Time to collect some solid audition clothes to rotate through. PS: Crossroads is my go-to for great quality second-hand clothes without crippling debt and as another option, Audrey (of Audrey Helps Actors) also highly recommended Rent The Runway Unlimited to me, I may take her up on that too! Photos: Using said changes, I booked a shoot with one of my favorite quick fire photographers who has shot me 2-3x at this point. Reel: This will be the most expensive and tedious, but I am going to film 1-2 new reel scenes with the characters I could book tomorrow (an exec scene I already have written for me and probably some CW or FreeForm scenario…I am working that one out). This is not an overnight change, this will roll out over the next few months and I am very ok with taking my time and doing it right.
A fucking lot. I am working extra hours at a lot of jobs right now to cover it. But I know it’s worth it. It is a well researched decision and like I said, I am doing it over the course of a few months. Patience is really hard for me so wish me luck. Here is the rough estimate:
Hair: Cut ~125 + Color ~200-300
Photos: ~200 for a mini session (1 hour) since I have already shot with my photographer many times, yes this is a big discount + ~150 for hair and makeup for the shoot + ~75 per site to post 3-4 new photos
Reel: ~500-800 per scene (including edits and pre-shoot prep)
Let me reiterate, this is a fucking lot of money and time. Ugh. Yes, it is exciting and fun. No, it is not something I throw around lightly. I actually opened a business card this year for this exact reason. But I know so deep down that it is worth it. So make sure you’re following me on here and on the One Broke Actress instagram, because I am going to share the pretty and the shitty of all of this process.
PLEASE NOTE: to quote Nicolas Gonzales from his podcast episode, “I didn’t want to do what everyone else was falling into, I didn’t want to run around LA chasing the next agent and changing my look and my photo to get the next agent because…then it all becomes about the photo” If you’re thinking about doing some major changes, please take a lot of time and put in some forethought as to why you’re doing it. Do not get panic break-up bangs (girls…you know what I am talking about) for your career. Instead think of yourself as a business entity. Do you really need to alter the full product or can you just update the front on the packaging?
Very timely post! I have been taking stock of myself in this way too. I appreciate your transparency as you go through the process.
Thank you! I am intrigued to see what others do with these info, feel free to keep me updated and I will share on my IG!