Should I Get in Shape Before Submitting?

Hey Bonnie!

Huge SMFA fan, I’ve emailed you before, and recently I attended your free seminar at BHP where I’m a student. That was AMAZING! Thank you so much for all you freely contribute to actors.

Your constant demystification of the industry and how to go about building a career (a LIFE) has brought me from feeling defeated and lost to “I know I can do this and I *am* doing this, so just be patient and it is coming,” so thank you.

So I’m on that SMFA Ninja Grind, getting my material in line, getting myself out there for more auditions, controlling what I can control. The biggest issue that is holding me back — and I am wondering if this is a common issue — is the one big “tool” that is taking longer to refine than my headshots or my reel: how I *look*.

I’m heavier than I need to be for my brand and currently in the process of Invisalign (ain’t nobody playing a convincing DA from an ivy league school without straight whites).

My question for you is this: Should I hold back from getting in front of my targets until I am in better shape and more bullseye? I don’t want to waste precious time or let fear keep me from making progress, but I *also* don’t want to make a bad first impression that I would have to spend more time fixing than if I had made sure I looked right first. It’s going to be about six more months on my teeth, maybe about the same for getting in the kind of shape I get to be to be on-brand (I’m definitely the “strong, smart but wounded female sci-fi/military gal with a good bicep” type, currently sans the great biceps).

Most of the women I see in the kind of roles I’m perfect for are TINY and svelte, and I’m not sure I wouldn’t be hurting myself by going out for things prematurely. Is getting my body and look in order as important as the great headshot that gets me brought in?

It’s not a personal judgment on myself, it’s just honest fact that I look chubby on camera, and that the actresses getting “my roles” are fit for the camera, not real-people-life healthy. I get that it will take commitment and diligence on my health just like I do in submitting. What can I do to make this a win/win so I feel encouraged, and not angry at myself for the opportunities I know I’m missing, because my looks are really the only thing stopping me from submitting to my targets?

Much love and looking forward to your Bon-bastic thoughts,


Rebecca hello and thank you so much for writing in! 🙂 Wasn’t that Beverly Hills Playhouse event fun? I love getting to give back at those great Q&As. Thank you for being a part of it!

Okay, first off, I’m gonna ask that you check out this archived column called “Your Hot Bod” and the accompanying vid I put up at Facebook about it when the topic came up again, associated with age (which I also recently discussed in “The Cure for Your ISM” here). I think there’s info in all of that previous work that will help.

Next, let me ask you to be really really really honest about whether you’ll *ever* be “TV skinny.” Yes, that’s a thing. Because you said the women you see in roles “perfect” for you are “TINY,” I want to be sure you’re being realistic about not just physical fitness but body size, overall! I mean, I *get* it. I’m a big, tall, broad-shouldered, big-hipped gal who has been in D cups since gradeschool and when I was an actor I tried to get down to “TV skinny” and that was just *never* gonna be a thing. Once I embraced that fact, I started booking like crazy in my *actual* bullseye, which was not what I really wanted it to be. I just want to be sure, before you go setting yourself up for disappointment, edging in on a bullseye that isn’t *truly* yours, that you’ve really thought about this completely.

Oh, also, you mentioned the importance of a great headshot. Let’s be clear that the *most* important factor in getting into the room is going to be relationships. Period. Having all your tools in order (headshot, resumé, footage, online presence, team of agents and managers, rightness for the role, talent itself) is of course expected, but it’s the relationships you build that will make the most difference. Just make sure you remember the focus on long-term relationship-cultivation will be a way bigger factor than any of the tools you’re working to tweak right now!

Finally — and this is a biggie for me — I’m always a fan of identifying the targets who need you as you are, not trying to become something that more people out there happen to need. The fact that more people need that thing you’re trying to become doesn’t mean it’ll be easy for you to get there, to stay there, or to overcome all the other actors who naturally live there and already have relationships there once you get there.

I’m a fan of living exactly in the moment we’re in, right now, always. And for me that means not putting a goal off for six months due to attempts to attain something that may not even make a difference in your bookings once you’ve done all that work. Of course, if it makes you feel great to have your teeth straighter or to be leaner, go for it! But consider that the role of your dreams may be out there RIGHT NOW and it’s one you’ll only book if you’re exactly as you are… with no changes whatsoever.

Enjoy the journey! Lemmeknow how it goes for you!

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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