This could be my shortest column ever. Actually, it could be only four words long. The title is the column itself: Look like your headshot.

The end. Done. That’s it.

Except that’s not it. Or at least that’s not it after seeing over 100 actors last week for a kickass zombie webseries. Nope. The number one most frequent type of comment made by the director, the producers, the showrunner, even the production coordinators helping out with casting after our sessions was, “No. Not that actor. That’s not the one,” as I held up a headshot.

“Yeah. That’s him,” I’d say.

“No. He didn’t look like that. He was less charactery,” would be a reply.

Or, “No, that’s not her. She’s too hot.” Or, “Yeah, like that, but that’s not her.” Or, “Wait! THAT is the actor we loved? WHAT?!? No way!”

And it would even get down to pulling up footage on the laptop to compare, because at times there was no amount of convincing that would get everyone in the room to believe that the actor in the headshot was the same as the person whose work we’d seen in the room earlier in the day.

It’s an epidemic.

Now, to be fair, there were easily 75 actors we saw who did look just like their headshots. They certainly chose photos that show them at their best, but “at their best as themselves,” which is the way to spin it. So many actors leave that last part out.

Because at least 30 actors handed over business cards with typos in the spelling of their names (that’s my analogy for actors whose headshots “sell” information that’s just not matching up with reality), I figured I’d better make it super simple in this week’s column:

Look like your headshot.

Don’t choose the one that worked for you 30 pounds ago or five years ago. Don’t choose the one that shows you looking fierce when you like to show up looking frumpy. Don’t choose the one that your mother loves but your agent hates. Don’t choose the one that takes you out of your primary type category and gets you called in for the wrong role. That’s just not helping you!

And it — along with no-shows (seriously, we had four no-shows during one hour of sessions last week) — is why casting directors are so much more likely to bring in actors we know. Actors we know look the way we know they look, because we know them and their headshot is just a placeholder in our minds for how we know they look. AND they show up (or call if they can’t) because they treasure the relationship with casting, with the director, with the producers.

Oh, and one last quickie: Don’t use props. Ever. I’ve never felt more strongly about this particular issue as I do now. Why? Well, I got hit in the head by a prop that left an actor’s hand and flew across the room and right into my skull during prereads last week. Yup.

I’m not going to say more about it, because I don’t want the actor to feel more mortified than he already does. But jeebus, people, if it can go wrong, it sometimes will. So please, let’s just leave the props right next to the headshots that are very flattering but don’t look like you: AT HOME.

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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