- 22 May 2022
You may have heard that it's important for actors to determine their "brand" - it makes you more castable and can even boost your career. But is branding really that important for an actor? Or is it just a bunch of cryptic words distracting you from the craft of acting? For the best advice on how to brand yourself as an actor, we consulted 15 industry experts, from acting coaches to social media gurus.
What is Idris Elba's "brand"? Or Meryl Streep?
Ah, but they're already household names, I hear you say. Okay, Samantha Morton's brand? Anthony Mackie? Maggie Q? Ben Mendelsohn?
I'm sure that if 100 of us wrote down our answers, we would disagree with each other when they were read. "Great Actor" is not a brand, just as "Great Food" is not a brand. Branding is done by the advertising agencies and not the manufacturer of the product, ie your agent and manager, not you.
Obviously if you know you're going to be hilarious, then branding yourself as a staunch tragedy would be an error in judgment. But then, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, and in recent years, Mo'Nique in "Precious" and Steve Carell in "Foxcatcher" demonstrate the power to destroy the "brand" we've come to expect of them anyway.
Work on your acting before you worry about branding. Over time, you'll find that the people who invest in you and your career will do the branding for you. Until then, your brand may just be an "actor who tries too hard".
The word itself makes our skin crawl. If actors take any time to figure out your brand or your type, that's all you are. We're all for our marketing, but the real question is: How do you put your unique voice to the fore? How do you attract industry to you? Here's why: You do amazing work. You express your bold and distinctive point of view. You are apologetic. People will take notice. People would like to know more. People will appreciate you. And they appreciate you. Not your label. What is Meryl Streep's brand? She will laugh at you even for asking.
So the best way to answer this question is to deny it, and remind yourself that you are unique - that there is no one like you in the universe. Sharpen your extraordinary, artistic voice. Bring it into your work, your life, and your marketing. Take it out on the world. Run in the other direction at the mention of that word. Branding is for cows.
I have to answer by offering merit first:
I think the word "brand" is too general to describe a human being. That said, the best way to determine your "brand" is to just think about and describe yourself, then make sure the world sees you that way. What are your attitudes, likes and dislikes? Then ask friends, family, and even relative strangers to describe you. Your reflection should be the same as your projection. If, as in your case, you don't get what you see, you will not only book the job, but you will be seen as a worse actor than you. It is extremely important to acknowledge and eliminate any difference between externality and self-perception. Get clear about who you are and then get comfortable with it. Only then will others feel the same way.
First, see yourself in photos and videos. Then, try these three tricks:
Think of a famous actor doing the roles that you are doing. That's your brand.
Find your special "hook" that no one else has. Is this your sweet glow? Is this your stupidity? Is this your deep, deep energy? That's your brand.
Ask others how they see you. What do most people say? That's your brand.
My sister, Morgan Fairchild, has been known throughout her career as a glamorous, bad girl. When she first came to Hollywood, she was cast as the mean girl in a television movie "The Initiative of Sarah". She really wanted to play the "good" sister and begged the producers to at least read her for it. He said, "Girl, you haven't been here very long, have you? A pretty girl is a dime a dozen, but it's hard to find a good b**ch. You have a lot of power. Take it up!"
The best way to determine your branding is to think about the ideal result! What is the purpose of branding yourself? What is your goal? You must reverse engineer your branding to package and position yourself for the reality of your dreams. For example, becoming a "globally recognized celebrity" requires different branding than someone who aspires to be "an actor working in [your city]". Regardless of your aspirations, you have to start where you are. However, too many personal brands spend all their energy (and sometimes money) trying to get to know themselves better. This is one third of the equation. Combine your ideal audience and outcome needs with your unique selling points (which I call your "best.
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