Branding: Another Way of Storytelling

Happy Wednesday! I skipped last week since I was out of town pretty much all week and also because of the holiday. 4th of July is one of my favorites, the other being Thanksgiving. Who doesn’t love to hang out with friends and family and eat tons of good food?!

Ok, so this week’s topic: Branding, finding your type, your style, your character.

This can be quite a daunting part of learning the biz of acting. I know it’s not something I was taught in college acting classes. In college you believe and are challenged to play EVERY part. I remember in high school I played a grandma, I’ve been Pinocchio, a princess, a curmudgeonly middle aged man, a 6 year old (when I was 21), a pirate, and many other fun things through my theatre career.

But here I am in Tinsel Town and there is a different mindset to get used to.

Branding is nothing new to Hollywood. If you think of Cary Grant, Dorris Day, Rock Hudson, Charlie Chaplin, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Shirley Temple, Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, and so very many more, those names evoke an image in your mind. I can hear their voice and see their face and character’s spirit with each person I think of. I remember reading in both a Cary Grant biography and also a Dorris Day biography that they would only agree to roles that fit their character or the image they were building.

The other day my friend posted a tweet about how branding is just storytelling. I thought that was such a great way to think of it. Here we are in this world of storytelling and loving the art of it and the moment we have to go into “business mode” a lot of us just want to shut down. But what if you look at yourself as a wonderfully amazing product that can help people (that’s what you do for casting directors – help them put the pieces of the story together). Part of my homework for Dallas Travers‘ class is to do a castability survey. I gave a few surveys out to my friends and when I got them back it was really interesting to see what commonalities they saw and what different sides of me they saw as well.

I know it can feel like you are being boxed in when someone asks what your “type” is but I like to think of this this way:

What is the first impression I give off? What roles/characters do I feel like I have in my back pocket? What do I relate to? This is my starting point. I also know that consistency is a great thing in presentation. How can you recognize Coke, Pepsi, Target, Disney, etc from a far off distance? They have a very specific look and feel and have kept it up for a very long time. So that’s what I work on next for all my mailings and marketing things.

Things that I like: Bright colors (blue and green most of all), polka dots, “vintage” things (circa 1920s-1960s), and a bright happy feeling to my surroundings – so I infuse all my marketing with that. It makes it so fun. I don’t feel like I need fit a mold of someone else’s when it’s all my favorite things. And I think that also backs up my character and style. I’m upbeat, quirky, have an old-soul, and remind people of old Hollywood. When I walk into the audition room I know that I bubble over with energy (mostly excitement and nerves for the meeting) so I know that I can come off as spunky and funny and also say really awkward things on accident…

So, for now, lets just say my “type” is the quirky, brainy, sometimes naive, girl next door. Great. I know I am capable of a wider range but for now that depth and knowing who I am is what makes my living those “quirky” characters so different from everyone else’s. No one else can be a Julisa. Just me.

Trust in that. When you feel you must only box yourself into one character type right now, know that you bring so much more to the table when you walk in that audition room. You have a wealth of stories and life in you. Be you, and that’s interesting! The “packaging” just helps you get in the door a bit faster.

 

These are just my thoughts as I explore this crazy business. I’m sure in time I’ll have much more insight, but this is what I have right now and I just wanted to share my thoughts with you.

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