Many actors have spent several years studying the craft of acting. Whether it was at a college or university, or just constantly taking workshops; actors have put a lot of time and money into their craft. Class after class, we focus on acting techniques and how to audition, but little do we focus on what it takes to be "called in" for an audition.
Now to be clear, acting techniques and how to audition are VERY important in landing a role, but none of those things matter if you're never "called in" to audition. I think many actors believe that talent is the key to getting in the room. They may also think that as long as they get an agent, audition appointments and calls would be overflowing. Today, I want to challenge you to think differently. The #1 Key to getting called in for an audition is..........your HEADSHOT. I know you were waiting for some brand new philosophy or some deep secret, but its not. It's simple, but true. Your headshot is the #1 key to getting called in for auditions.
Now every actor has a headshot (well I at least hope every actor has one), but I don't think many actors really understand the value of their headshot or how to market themselves through their headshot. We hear all the time in our acting classes and our workshops, "Every actor needs a headshot", "your headshot is your calling card". That is 100% true, but you have to understand that you have to market your brand through your headshot. We go and take pictures with a photographer and begin marketing ourselves before we know what we are really selling. When choosing your headshot, you shouldn't just choose the one that you think looks the sexiest. Or the shot that you think you look the coolest in. Before choosing your headshot, you have to know and define your brand.
Your brand is who you are. Its who you are when you're out with friends, its who you are when you're auditioning, and its who you are when you meet an agent or manager. Your brand is consistent. Through your brand, you name your strengths and you understand what makes you stand out from the rest. There are so many talented actors out here. There will always be someone more talented than you, someone more sexier than you. But that shouldn't slow you down or hold you back, because you are you! As much as I hate to use this analogy, I think it helps in understanding my point. There are so many burger places out there. You have McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, etc. They all make burgers, and they all taste good. They all have buns, and they all have toppings, but yet they are all still different. They look different, they taste different. But how do you know which burger to choose. What influences your choice? MARKETING....ADVERTISEMENT! Although they are all burgers, they are marketed differently and in their own unique way. Its the same way for us as actors. We are all actors, we all are beautiful, we all can play characters, and we all can learn lines. But what makes casting directors call you in, is how you market yourself. Your headshot is your first impression on a casting director.
Even when trying to get an agent, they want to represent an actor who they can market. They want to help you market your brand. Whenever I had a meeting with an agent for representation, one of the topics always brought up early in the conversation is how much they could market the brand that I have. They can sell and pitch me to so many different casting directors. THAT IS THE KEY TO GETTING CALLED IN TO AUDITION! So go back and look at your headshot. Is it the best representation of who you are? Does it amplify your brand? Is your headshot a promise to who you will be if they call you in to audition?
One last point, if your headshot is correctly marketing your brand, the next question is, how is the quality of your headshot? Cheesy headshots, will get you cheesy auditions. A low quality headshot will get you called into low paying acting jobs. I challenged several of my clients from my private coaching sessions to make the investment of getting high quality headshots done by photographers who specialized in headshots. Those clients who made that investment started to get called in so many more times, and their booking rate increased. The casting directors take you as serious as you take yourself. They want to invest into an actor who has invested into their self. Once I personally made that investment myself, I been called in to audition in front of the biggest casting directors and producers. I have been called in to meet agents for representation. My submissions on online actor sites started to get replies and call ins. There has been many times where I didnt have to audition. They booked me from my headshot alone. The #1 Key to getting called in to audition, is your headshot!
Please leave comments on if this advice was helpful. Also feel free to share! To learn more about who I am, take a look around on this website! I love to hear the success and progress of actors. God bless!
10/10/2013 01:43:38 am
Thank you for this brother! The greatest feeling is receiving confirmation from a source you trust. Before reading this, I took a closer look at my headshot and asked if I would hire myself based on this photo. It wasn't easy answering that question but for the type of work I want to do as an actor, my reply was no.
10/12/2013 08:27:48 am
Hey Jamie, thanks for taking the time to read. I'm glad you are now aware of how to look and honestly critique your headshot. That's a great way to grow, is to be open to criticism, even if it's from our self
10/10/2013 03:23:38 am
Great article, Mark!! Do you have any advice/resources on how to determine your brand?
10/12/2013 08:24:34 am
Hey! Thanks for taking the time to read my post. If you send me your email, I'll send you a great read that will help you determine your brand. It's great to hear from you. Hope all is well with your career
10/14/2013 08:19:07 am
This is awesome advice - I guess my struggle is choosing which headshot out of my two is best for each particular project I'm submitting for. Which headshot really markets me and my personality the best, rather than which headshot is simply the nicest! You know....
1/1/2014 05:24:22 pm
This was an amazing segment Mark McKinnon. Great advice to give to upcoming actors/actresses when preparing for auditions. Keep up the great work!
4/22/2014 09:01:18 am
Thanks Mark, I have an even clearer understanding of branding and marketing myself. Thanks for the advice!!!!!!
4/22/2014 09:26:05 am
Good stuff bro! I appreciate you taking the time to write this!
1/20/2016 06:11:30 pm
Thank you Mark! You posted a wealth of information that many of us take for granted. Taking a look at my headshot as I type. Thanks again for taking time to care about others.
7/4/2016 11:24:38 am
Thank you for this info. It is always nice to be reminded for reinforcement. 1st time hearing the burger analogy...LOVED IT!
2/11/2017 07:38:13 am
This is so true. After taking Mark's class I learned why I wasn't getting called in a or booking the job was because of my headshot and brand. I rebranded myself and got headshots to reflect it and in about a month from doing so I got my first NY audition for a feature film produced my a really big name producer. Thanks so much Mark for all the great advice!!
8/7/2017 07:54:35 pm
I LOVE THIS!!!! I am so inspired just by the little things you said! I am great full to have found this site! Thank you so much!
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Mark McKinnon has spent many years establishing a professional acting career. Now that his career is rolling, he shares his advice to inspiring and experienced actors on how to be successful as an actor.