Dear Bonnie,

Boy do I have a lot of catching up to do! So many posts, so little time. I’ve just started reading your column, and I appreciate all your insight. Now, before I scour through all your previous entries, I thought I’d pose the question: Can your headshot be wacky?

In your book, you talk about the difference between the part you are right for and the part you look right for in your headshots. From what I feel and what others tell me, I am a wacky best friend, very Jerry Trainor (iCarly and Drake and Josh), and especially great with kids. I want to convey my comedic style, wackiness, naïveté, and 18-to-play-younger castability. Is there any problem with having a goofy face? Can that still be natural? Also, I have a problem with squinting my eyes when I smile. Any advice?

Can’t wait to read all your archives!

Josh Michael Keith

Hi Josh,

Ah, my favorite answer: It depends. How wacky are we talking? And how wacky are you? Often, we receive headshots that are way over-the-top wacky and it’s tough for us to know whether the actor is overcompensating for talent with that “look” or if that’s really representative of who he is. When you’re getting on our radar for the first time, it’s a little risky to be too “out there,” but I’m not saying you should play it safe, if that’s not the kind of actor you are.

I mean, we want your headshots to be representative of who you are and what your vibe will be like (as well as what you look like, of course) when you enter the room. Choosing a wacky shot as an inset printed on your resumé is a great option, because it doesn’t distract us too much (if we’re the type to be distracted by a too-wacky headshot) but it does show us, while we’re looking at your credits, some of the wackiness you bring to your roles.

But I’m willing to bet, if you are the wacky type, some of that is coming across even in your more straightforward headshots. Just a guess. πŸ˜‰ It’s like the snarky guy brings some of that to his headshot. The sexy, sultry gal is always selling some of that behind her eyes, if not overtly. And the guy we call “that guy” definitely has that charming twinkle going on (and you just know he’s shooting “finger guns,” out of frame).

Obviously, if you have an agent or manager, or are working with a coach, these are folks to ask about this as well. They have your best interest in mind and are going to equip you with the tools to help you get as far as you can in your career. Plus, they know you. And if you’re on your own, yeah, consider the “mini me” shot on the resumé side of your headshot and resumé, as that’s a way to show us that part of you without hitting us over the head with it.

About the squinting, I’m not sure! Other than advising you to relax the muscles around your eyes before you smile, I’m not aware of any real techniques for cutting down on squinting. But I’m not so sure you’d want to avoid such a thing, since — if it’s what you do when you smile and you would presumably smile during your gig as an actor on a comedic show — selling the reality of you is what a headshot is supposed to do. Maybe an awesome headshot photographer who reads my column will write in with some tips about this!

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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