I was having a conversation with some actors about branding (as I often do) and we got around to the part where someone says that he knows at least a hundred actors who do very well and never once worry about anything like knowing their type or understanding their brand.
“Ah, my dear actor friend,” I said, “but they live on-brand.” And I proceeded to tell the part of the story that no one enjoys so much (unless they love demystifying the process and understanding what’s under the hood, in the anatomy of success). “Everyone has a guy behind the curtain, operating the Great and Powerful Oz that we see, in public. Everyone is both the slick, public persona and the frantic, calculated button-pusher that no one sees. How in touch we are with our own guy — how far we pull back the curtain to peek in at what he’s doing — that’s our awareness of our branding. But everyone has it happening. Some are just so good at it that they’re on auto-pilot and we don’t really ever see the guy behind the curtain.”
Until things go off the rails, that is. Take a look at the more famous recent celebrity meltdowns to get a sense of what I’m talking about, here. Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, Mel Gibson, Britney Spears. Heck, even Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch a few years back. These are all examples of people showing us their ability (or lack of ability) to maintain the brand that their “guy behind the curtain” had kept alive for years before.
That said, even stars in meltdown mode can be forgiven, can be given another chance, can actually do better later due to their crazy public antics… if their antics are on-brand!
When we were interviewing Lindsay Hollister about her starring role in Blubberella for our podcast “The Work” last week, she told me about some very hurtful things that Rosie O’Donnell had said about Glee star Ashley Fink and how her circle of friends agree that Ashley isn’t very attractive. Well, the comment was made that Rosie really should keep her opinions to herself. “Not so fast,” I said. “It’s totally on-brand that she would grab a mic and get some press, talking about this. That’s absolutely on-brand for her.” And it’s what keeps getting her her own talkshows.
Even the most egregiously reckless acts can be forgiven, since we are a world that loves a comeback. But it’s usually after an actor is a known commodity whose talent is unquestionable and whose bankability is a guarantee that folks will be looking for ways to bring that person “back” after a slip. While you’re still building your reputation in the industry, don’t look for obstacles to add to your path. Make sure your choices make sense not only for who you are but for where you’re headed and what relationships you need to reach that destination.
Whenever you learn something surprising about someone, ask yourself if it’s on-brand or not. Surprises that are off-brand could erode a newer actor’s ability to be fully understood by the potential buyers he’s trying to attract. On-brand surprises help to cement the understanding of the actor’s brand in the minds of the potential buyers.
Run your choices through a little brand filter before jumping, impulsively. If your choices are on-brand, you’re helping us understand you, and that helps get you work! If you’re providing us with brand confusion, we just may choose to work with someone we “get” more fully.
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001324.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.