We were in the SMFA Retreat this weekend and one of the awesome actors in attendance asked, “Should I lean into my theatrical brand or this commercial look my agents want me to have?”

Okay, so a few things are at play here and I’d like to break this all down.

First, y’all know that your brand is the umbrella under which all the types you can play live.

That means your commercial and theatrical identities should not be that far off from one another. They aren’t strangers. They’re siblings! More correctly, they’re the same person on sometimes very different days.

Here’s a great way to think about it:

Your brand has good days and bad days. Your core, “on an average day” bullseye character type has a resting point and from there, there’s good days and bad days, cleaned-up experiences and run-down ones.

Your most cleaned up, brightest, BEST day? That’s your brand commercially. Because even if you play the skanky drug dealer, if you’re booking commercially, you’re not *that* skanky.

Think of the absolute worst day ever. Nothing goes right, even if your core brand is happy-go-lucky and things usually go well. That’s your theatrical brand as it skews all the way over to dramas. Specifically things on networks like FX or AMC.

Your comedic theatrical brand may be closer to the commercial side of things — say, Disney and ABC or old-school CBS style stuff — or it could be the type of brand that could go comedic *and* dramatic but it’s a little edgier like on FOX or TBS, maybe it’s sexy like on the CW.

Once you factor in all the cable networks and new media platforms, there’s a lot to consider (and we do this as a part of Get in Gear for the Next Tier of course), so this isn’t so much a breakdown of the various vibes with which your brand might align, this is just me asking you to consider that your commercial and theatrical (or your comedic and dramatic) brands need not be seen as mutually exclusive.

They all live under the same brand umbrella.

So back to the convo we were having at the SMFA Retreat in Los Angeles this weekend (you can snatch your spot for January here if rockin’ pilot season is a goal): “Should I lean into my theatrical brand or this commercial look my agents want me to have?” That was the question.


If that “commercial look” the agents are crazy about is so far away from your theatrical brand that we could be shifting OUTSIDE the brand umbrella, yeah, that’s something to discuss.

Let’s look at this as a Venn diagram. You’ve got the look, feel, vibe of the commercial YOU in one circle and the overall theatrical brand you rock is in the other circle. How much overlap is there?

Ideally, there’s a good amount of overlap so that you’re never so far away from the edge of one circle when you’re livin’ in the other for a while. We should be able to see hints of that other version of you no matter where you are.

If it’s night and day? It’s possible you’re too far off in either direction (or both directions) and that could cost you bookings!

Now, I’m absolutely not telling you to bland it out. Nor am I suggesting you turn down who you really are at your core.

What I’m asking is that you map out these parts of yourself to be sure they’re clearly within view of one another. That way, you’re not compromising bookings, you’re not compromising range, and — most importantly — you’re not compromising who you ARE as a storyteller.

Thank you for your feedback on these little beauties, you fine folks! YES, details soon on this SMFA MERCH! So excited! 🙂

What are YOU excited about? Come jam with me in the comments below… or visit at the Facebook group!

Woo HOO!

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

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  1. Chase Steven Anderson November 7, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    Hahahaha “Skanky Drug-dealer” I like that. Specific. 🙂


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