ACTING 101 - Branding
- Written by Paris Hepburn
If typecasting and branding are similar, what are the differences? We touched a little on branding and put an emphasis on typecasting. So then, what is the difference? They are similar but also vastly different. Can an actor be type casted and branded at the same time? Yes of course. When I first started out my coaches worked on my branding. Who am I? At that time I didn’t have a clue. What do I bring to the table? How will other people see me? Both typecasting and branding go hand in hand. It's the image that you want casting directors, producers, and your fans to remember when they think of you. Your own personal brand explains who you are, what you stand for, your contribution, your personal values and how you express yourself to the world.
Children are usually branded early on. Are they cute, daunting, surprising, cheerful, overweight, skinny, and all the characteristics of who they are as a person? Branding has more to do with the type of a child they are than the roles they play. But who they are influences the type of roles they get. All though children change over time, branding usually stays with us as we grow up. Hair color, weight, height, generally change, but our personal selves mostly stay the same.
So why is branding so important? Finding your brand is like finding yourself. Who you are at your deep emotional core and who you are as a person inside and out. Branding defines you as a wide range of characters and not one specific character but your true authentic self. Your brand is how other people perceive you without knowing who you really are. Your brand should authentic yourself in your headshots, auditions, and demo/sizzle reels. The headshots and demo/sizzle reels all need to work together to let casting directors, directors, producers, and fans know who you really are. When you walk into an audition room, or a meeting, you don’t want anyone to be confused about your brand. If your headshot is sending one message, and your demo/sizzle reels is sending another message and both aren’t authentically you, then you’re actually making the casting director’s, directors, producers’ job harder. They want someone who is not confused about themselves, so simplify your assets and present a unified, authentic image.
Understanding your type of branding is absolutely critical. Branding will convey who you are to others and help you in looking for the right parts to play. As an actor, you want to fit into the role you are playing perfectly. Did you ever see a movie where the main character fits exactly with what the audience expects that character to be? When you think of branding, envision yourself as a rare product that is specifically you that only you can play.
I developed my brand early on. When I was twelve I developed a certain brand that I wanted people to relate to. Since my grandfather’s middle name was Hepburn and I was related to a long line of Hepburn’s, I branded myself as a Hepburn. Audrey came into play since I was related to her. As my brand developed I become symbolic as a Hepburn which meant I was held up to certain standard to carrying the Hepburn name. I am certainly not prudish but have the tenacity like Audrey did. So when people see me they can relate to me with those characteristics. Without people knowing me personally, they already know who I am by my branding.
Audrey has been an inspiration for me and many people have already related me to her. But I have also modernized myself with being very athletic and more adventurous. So many of the roles that fit me best are action roles that portray good, loving and caring characters. The ultimate super hero. I can see myself playing roles in movies like Avengers, Star Trek, Star Wars, and movies that have a lot of action and a story line of doing good.
The best known actors, who are some of the highest paid, all have a brand which they convey in every role they play. Because of their special branding, they keep getting hired and keep getting paid like they do because that is what is expected of them. We expect the same type of vigor each and every time we see them on the screen or in a show which makes the film better. We need to understand what makes us characteristically irreplaceable to your fans so they will want to see us because of us.
So how can I find my brand? Finding your brand is rather simple. It does take time to develop your brand but, once you do, you will understand yourself a whole lot better. This must be an honest evaluation about yourself. Don’t try to be someone you are not or please others into thinking you’re one way when you’re another.
Research. Investigate yourself. You can do this by asking yourself questions then asking people that know you how they see you. People say that I am kind, caring and genuine. I have to agree with them. I am exactly that way. Take notes about yourself then compare them to each other. What is the general agreement between everything you investigated about yourself and what others have to say about you? Do you agree or disagree and why? What words do you feel truly summarize your true self? There are no right or wrong answers to explain your brand. Use words such as adjectives and nouns to describe yourself. Identify with places, emotions, flavors, art, music and anything that describes who you are and others that can relate to you. Be authentic and realistic about yourself. You may be surprised about what you find.
Authenticity. Actors who have a need to please others are actually perplexed about who they are. Being perplexed is being indecisive. Being indecisive is a sure demise in branding. Casting directors, directors, producers and agents can sense when someone is indecisive a mile away. The actors who consistently book jobs are the ones who don’t care who likes them or who doesn’t like them, they’re just doing their job because they are authentic. I was asked about kissing in a scene and my reply was, “It’s my job.” But I also have standards about the types of kissing. That is because I know myself and what I want. Take for instant, all of us have our own preferences about foods we eat, music we listen to, people we hang around with, products we love, activities we participate in and places we frequent. This is the same way for branding as for acting. The better you know yourself the easier it is for other to know you also. Being an actor is important in conveying who you are to the public. Everyone wants to know about who you are so when they see you on the big screen, they get what they expect…you!
Social Media. Social Media is huge. We send more messages over Facebook than we do in person. Everything is virtually at your fingertips. Have a tweet on Twitter or present an instant on Instagram. See me on YouTube. Social media pivots on fascination, obsession, envy, watchfulness, self-importance and vanity. We’re become dependent upon receiving acceptance and validation through ‘likes’ and ‘reactions.’ We are forever in search of the best of ourselves in posts, images, sayings and position. With all the attention given to social media it can be a good thing but it can also become an unhealthy thing. Many people have paid a high price for being on social media. As they say, “Good news spreads fast, but bad news spreads even faster.” The most important thing is to understand about social media and use it to your advantage in a productive manner. Your choices are plenty. Facebook is a place for stories and families to join in together as well as for advertising and news. Instagram is an instant visual platform that gives instant information about what is going on in a person’s life, subject, and business. Twitter is a place for celebrities, politics and opinions. There’s also LinkedIn, Tumblr, YouTube and other blogs.
In using these social media outlets, you have to decide what works for you. I like facebook. I have both a personal page and a fan page. I like that you can get to know people on Facebook. I have meet some great friends and fans on there. Instagram is a wonderful platform for my brand which I use many times. I like the ease in which to put up my information. But to be effective on Instagram you have to be continually posting which limits me because I am so busy. So Facebook suits me the best.
So until next week, keep ‘BRANDING’ and find yourself.