Something I’ve been seeing a lot lately is the tendency for actors to “bland it out.” (Dear GAWD, please do not assume this is me encouraging actors to do the horribly overused fake glasses, raised eyebrow, pursed lips, finger-guns headshot to “be different.” THAT is *not* the alternative to being vanilla. But that’s another rant for another column.) *ahem*

So, the “blanding it out” thing. I keep hearing actors defend their middle-of-the-road headshots, their safe cover letters, their generic websites with the words, “Well, I want to stay open to those young mom roles,” or, “If I’m too edgy I’ll never book commercials,” or, “There are more roles for the average dude than for the emo one.”


You’ve prevented yourself from being a slam-dunk for those roles you *are* right for by trying to stay competitive in an over-saturated demographic that you really don’t want to be a part of, anyway.

Here’s how I know.

When I push (which I don’t do with the average actor, but with those who are working with me as private coaching clients, you bet I’m gonna push) and ask, “Okay, you want to stay open to those young mom roles. Cool. How often do you go out for young mom?” I’m met with, “Never.” And when I ask, “Okay, if you’re too edgy you’ll never book commercials. Got it. Do you go out a lot, commercially?” The answer is, “Almost never.” Ah. Okay. “And when you DO go out commercially?” “Yeah. I don’t book.”

Wonder why.

Oh wait. No I don’t. I know exactly why. Because it’s someone else’s bullseye and you’re trying to play at what they do, effortlessly.

If you’re polarizing? Stay polarizing. And research your polarizing ass off ’til you find the storytellers who need polarizing actors of your exact type to help get their stories told. This makes your job ridiculously simple. You no longer need to try and stay available for “whatever THEY may want,” constantly hoping you’ll look like a good choice for *something* just by random happenstance. Instead, you’re so busy being exactly as specific as you are, researching who digs that specificity, and landing on their radar with beautiful authenticity that you begin to forgive yourself for all that time you spent trying to be something you’re not.

Certain actors *are* bland. Cool. If that’s you, your materials should line up with who you are, and I should feel like I’m sitting down with you, whether I’m looking at your headshot, your resumé, your website, your cover letter, or your demo reel. But if you’re edgy and insist upon keeping “safe” headshots up at your Actors Access profile “because there are lots of safe roles casting” (or worse, if your AGENT requires that, despite never getting you out on that stuff, which you wouldn’t book anyway), you’re missing out on convincing the buyers of “edgy” that you are their best bet.

Stop chasing mediocrity. Be you. Polarizing, specific, authentic you. That does NOT mean being different for the sake of being different (that’s some bullshit, and it reeks of desperation, to those on the receiving end of that mess). All it means is that you own every inch of what makes you YOU. Because *that* is what’s castable.

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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  1. Linda Landeros November 2, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    I was watching Nathan Fielder (Nathan For You) on a late night show, he is the perfect example of bland as a brand. He did a bit where he brought in a back up guest in case he was too boring. Such a fun bit that was so on brand! With all the branding work I’m doing for GIGFTNT, it’s enhancing and guiding my comedy as I study at UCB. Great stuff!


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