Recently there’s been a bunch of talk about ‘type’ and ‘brand’ in reference to the actor. As if we didn’t have enough problems with our identity, now we have to know how we are perceived and can be marketed.
Being someone who looks like a million other people (at least half my acting friends are brunettes in the 26-35 age range, REPRESENT) the idea of branding myself makes me want to take a long walk off a short cliff. I just want to be an artist. I don’t care about all the commercial, money making, Hollywood image, ‘how do I fit in your box’ bullshit. At least until my bank account says “screw you get a real job then.” Ok you win.
So where to start? Unless you’ve got some crazy charisma and a look so fresh Will Smith be hittin you up, you have to get creative. And, let me be totally honest, I was not a cute kid. I wish I was joking. I had a horrible awkward stage where they thought I had Lupis, I tucked every shirt into my acid wash jeans (even sweathshirts), my feet grew before I did (I still feel cheated that I’m not 5’8 like the doc said), I was underweight and pale, and I had a fierce loyalty to the disabled kids. I also read a lot and my brother was my best friend. Grades 1 thru all of school sucked balls. So the idea of embracing a part of myself that’s different is terrifying. Vomit inducing. And goes against every fiber of my adult being who’s fought to be accepted.
I’m not in the bonnet. Best friends! My poor bro.
My wonderful acting coach, Steven Anderson, always encourages us to walk into fear. Have your little death and embrace what terrifies you. Well this scares the shit out of me. I can’t even watch the playback on my films. I refuse to make judgement on myself and critique performance because once I break that seal I WILL NEVER BE HAPPY WITH THE OUTCOME. *Sidenote: all acting teachers who made us tape our work, I have never watched those tapes. Shame on me!
But something interesting happened to me this last week. I auditioned for a larger film and for a great supporting role. I was terrified. I was shaking. I was like ‘WTF get your self together!‘ I really, really wanted this part. When I walked into the room, the casting director asked me how tall I was. Uh oh. I had on my 4 inch shoes and timidly looked down and mumbled “5’2 without shoes”. I waited for the laugh. It didn’t come. Instead she said, “That’s perfect for this role. Take off your shoes.” Uh excuse me? I kicked off my shoes and felt….liberated! I’m always the actress that needs the apple boxes, who’s pants need to be hemmed, that people see barefoot and say ‘oh you’re so miniature!’. It was exciting to let that go.
What does all this mean? I have no idea I’m still processing over a glass of Cab. But I have started thinking of myself in terms of what makes me different and branding. And for once it doesn’t make me throw up in my mouth. Progress!
How do you feel about branding yourself and identifying type? Any tips out there?