Over the past three days I have been concentrating on practising my GenAm whenever I got a chance. Learning an accent, it turns out, is the perfect tool for me to hone in times where I have very little time to myself. I just had to find the right approach and method. With the help of Penny Dyer's audiobook, I've been making really good progress. If I keep it up I'll be able to record a sample before months end and make it available to my agent and post it on my other actor profiles. I am very excited! Have you any idea how much more sellable it makes in NZ me when I have mastered the GenAm? I'm starting with RP this week. Watch this space!
I've also started reading Self-Management for Actors by LA casting director Bonnie Gillespie. She's been writing a fantastic blog, The Actors Voice, on Actors Access since 2004. So, there is already a heap of fantastic information on that blog (thank Richard for pointing me to it!). But I was particularly interested in learning about actor branding and that's what her book provides in a more comprehensive and centralised way.
Since I am just starting out in the industry, I thought it would be a good idea to know what actor type I am and how to use my brand to my advantage. I am not trying to get type-cast. I'm just interested in how to sell best what I have naturally. If I have a clear idea of who I am as an actor, I can bring that essence across clearly in my headshots, in the way I dress and come across. This will give both my agent and any CDs a clear idea of who I am, what I am naturally suited for and of how to market and, well, sell me.
I cannot imagine anything more tedious for a CD than looking at an actor's headshots or at an actor in person and not knowing who this person is. After all, they are going through stacks of photos and whole flocks of auditionees to find the right candidates for often very specific breakdowns. Even in a comparatively small market like Wellington or New Zealand even, when you are just starting out, you need to get known for something. If that something is something you're naturally good at, that's a huge advantage and a good starting point. It might not make sense to everyone but it makes sense to me.
Playing your primary type over and over is not a limitation. It's a shortcut... There are so many people pursuing acting in Los Angeles that the best shot you've got to ever get cast is to get known for being very good at the one thing folks will most want to see you doing. And the more consistently you provide casting directors with that one thing, the better you brand yourself. The better you brand yourself, the more of a prototype you become. And when you're a prototype for a role, you're the one the buyers think of when writing the breakdown. Heck, if you're really at the top of our list, you're the one whose agent we call with an offer, rather than even writing the breakdown for that role.
Now, New Zealand and Wellington are not LA by any means. They are MUCH smaller markets. But I still have the feeling that the same principle applies. I think it might be more of a balance act here between finding your brand and avoiding type-casting but I also think that knowing my type and building my brand is a useful starting point.
What do you think?