Speaking at a Spotlight Open House session, Charlotte Thornton gives tips for refreshing your personal brand as an actor.
Firstly know that you are brilliant! Always hold on to that thought. But there’s no point being brilliant if no one knows you exist and you don’t get to show it. Marketing and promotion are vital for performers looking for career opportunities so it’s important to take some time to really think about your brand and how you can best promote yourself. Whether you are returning to the industry or haven’t thought about your personal brand in a while, now is the time to start.
You are the CEO
You are your own company and you are totally in charge. Think of your career as a business and be strategic. Look at your ‘competitors’ and why they are doing well and see how you fit into the market.
Know your personal brand
Being realistic about your castability is key. Know who and what you are selling. Don’t provide too many options, keep it simple and play to your strengths. Make sure your brand is clear across all channels: social, casting profiles, headshots and showreels so people choosing you will feel secure in their choice. Trust is the key.
You know your USP so be brave. Your uniqueness is that you’re you and you cannot, and will not, be seen for everything so go where you fit first and build on that. It’s not enough to have the talent (although it should be!) so you need to make sure you are as widely known as possible. Increase your audience through networking, social media, getting in touch with casting directors and agents, creating your own work and collaborating.
Don’t get mad, get even
It can be really frustrating to see others succeeding when you perceive you are not but try and turn any disappointment into concrete action and try to detach emotionally.
It’s not easy and it is fine to take time to regroup but remember rejection is a story you make up and tell yourself. You may never know why you haven’t been chosen but rather than internalise this, flip it, knowing that next time you may be just what they are looking for. You can feel disappointed but don’t allow that feeling to persist for too long. Casting directors or agents often have specific criteria they need to meet whether that be a slot at an agency or a role that’s being cast and so a ‘no’ is never personal
Solve the problem, make the sale
Helping others to help you makes everything much easier. If you’ve put in the work on your branding then agents can concentrate on jobs, not just raising your profile. They’ll have a better-formed product to put forward for casting directors’ consideration, who, remember, are a business too.
Headshots and showreels
Don’t overcomplicate this. Make sure your headshot looks like you and that any gallery images are kept to a minimum but also reflect you. Costumes and clothing can and should be different but if your eyes are always the same, then you aren’t offering a real choice, you’re just confusing people. Your profile is your shop window so keep it simple and always think of the story you are telling. Likewise with showreels keep them short and simple, 2-3 minutes of a good reel with your best parts first. Captivate the audience from the beginning so they want to know more.
Hopefully, you’re in this for the long haul so never be complacent about what you offer. Keep challenging yourself and working on your brand. Remember, who says yes, and why they say yes, is not in your control but it’s always in your control to ask and grow. Remember you are brilliant.
Charlotte Thornton trained at Mountview and was a professional actor for over 15 years, performing at the Vaudeville, Apollo and the National Theatre as well as writing and performing her own stand-up comedy. She works with actors passing on what she learnt and is the author of the actors’ guidebook ‘Talent isn’t Enough’.