Callback Clothing

An actor friend of mine suggested that I write a column addressing the “myth” that actors should always wear the same outfit they wore to prereads at callbacks. Is it a myth? Or do we truly prefer to see you wearing the same thing when you come back for the second time?

Well, as with most things in the entertainment industry, it’s not science. While your clothing may have very little (if anything) to do with the fact that you earned a callback, it is part of the total package that casting liked, when you were in the room the first time. Why work against that total package in any way? When you come in for a callback, you should always do exactly what worked to get you to that callback in the first place. The only exception to this rule would be if you were given adjustments when you learned you had earned a callback. Those notes would trump the “do exactly what worked” advice.

Since wearing something different at the callback could throw off someone’s perception of your work, you shouldn’t chance it. The director, the producer, the casting director may have no idea why they are seeing you differently at the callback. It could be that your hair, your outfit, or your mood has changed. Perhaps you worked with a coach and changed your choices in the audition material since prereads. Whatever it is that makes a perception shift, if you’re no longer at the top of someone’s list due to those differences, you end up losing out. Why take that chance, when it’s just as easy to wear the same thing again?

If it helps others believe that you are delivering exactly what they fell in love with at prereads for you to show up in the same clothing at callbacks, by all means, do that. Often, I’ll have a director say, at the end of a callback session, “Why didn’t you bring back that girl in the blue top? We loved her for this!” I’ll say, “Oh, we saw her again. She was wearing green today.” And the fact that the director then has to try and reconcile his image of you (from prereads or the tape of prereads, if he saw you recorded rather than in the room) is an obstacle. He may say, “Oh! I didn’t like the gal in the green. Hm. Maybe she was only good on tape. Oh well, I really liked that actor who wore the yellow jacket. She was just as fun as I thought she’d be when I saw her on the preread tape.” Whether the read has changed at all, there is something about the clothing that a director is responding to, in coming up with his opinion of your work. Help him with that visual connection to your performance. Don’t create an obstacle for that connection.

Now, if you have so many auditions that you couldn’t possibly keep up with what you wore to each one, that’s where one of the many handy log books out there comes into play. Whichever system is best for you (an electronic organizer, a piece of actor-designed software, a log book, a simple journal or notebook), go ahead and get into the habit of keeping track of your audition wardrobe. In fact, this would be a great resolution for 2005! If you have a digital camera, start using it to capture your exact outfit and hairstyle before each audition. Why not?! Other information to track could include the project description, shoot dates, rate of pay, casting director and associates, location of audition, mileage to and from the audition location, amount paid to park, immediate thoughts after the audition, etc. If you are using this system in your computer or handheld organizer, you can easily search the files when you get your next audition at the same location or for the same casting director. This organizational system could end up saving you time and money in the long run, as you’ll be able to build on the information after each visit.

Anyone out there using a system that rocks, feel free to email me to share some tips with the rest of the readers here. Folks who are organizationally challenged often need a little help getting started, so advice is especially appreciated from those who started out certain they’d never be able to get organized yet who found a system that works for them.

Share your toys, everyone. ’tis the season!

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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