I asked my actress friend Vanessa Bailey (@vbaileyactor ), who makes a living as an actress appearing in commercials, just how and why she gets so many gigs.
Here are her top eight tips for actors who want to nail an audition for a commercial.
Do apply for everything
Even if you don’t get the gig, if you are seen, you now have a relationship you didn’t have previously. And every casting will build your experience.
Do understand it’s not art
And yet it is art. Yes, you’re selling a product. But the director needs actors who can deliver high quality with the absolute minimum of fuss. Being inauthentic authentically is extremely hard. So don’t let your ego start telling you you’re selling out. That’s not true. You’re being paid to be an amazing artist that people will want to work with again. That’s meant to happen.
Don’t be late
Arrive in good time. Enough time to fill out your form, go to the loo, check there’s nothing in your teeth and run your lines if there are any. Never be late, there aren’t any excuses the casting director (CD) will be interested in and it sends a very negative message about how seriously you took the casting.
Commercial castings can run late, often quite dramatically. Yes, sometimes they change the scenarios, the character, or spring lines on you. Or all three. You might have travelled for an hour but be in and out in ten seconds flat. Don’t make a fuss. It’s your job to deal with this stuff.
Don’t be loud
No one (least of all the CD) is interested in listening to you making calls to your agent, or hearing how great the reviews for your one-woman show are, or how drunk you got last night. Being loud and pretentious won’t get you the job. You’ll just look loud and pretentious.
Even if you’re completely devastated with your terrible performance, just smile and leave. And work out how you can be better next time.
Don’t hang around
Don’t attempt to initiate a chat with the CD, they haven’t got time. If they want to chat to you, you’ll know about it.
Do learn to speed-listen
You need to learn to take direction super-fast. Go in having made a choice about your character and then be prepared to change it when the CD asks you to. Even if it’s the complete opposite to what you had in your head. We’re not devising here, we’re advertising.
Do see each casting as an opportunity
You’re being seen – that’s a HUGE thing. You may not get this casting, but if you make your mark, they’ll call you in again. And again.
Do give yourself a break
Sometimes it’s literally just about how you look. You may have been brilliant, but not blonde. And now the client really wants blonde. Develop a thick skin and a short memory when it comes to castings. Move on quickly and don’t over-analyse.
Now get in there and own that casting!
Do you have any tips to add? Let us know and we will add them.
Vanessa has featured in commercials for Hyundai, Boots, Kwik-Fit, Renault, Ideal World and Lloyds Pharmacy.
Follow Vanessa @vbaileyactor