There are many actors all over the world, young and old: it’s a fact. That’s why truly knowing what sets you apart from the crowds and loving what makes you, you, is vital to your career. In fact, too many actors can’t name their own ‘it’ factor, which can not only decrease their confidence, but also make it harder to be cast by casting directors, as too much ambiguity—especially when an actor is just starting out—can be confusing and even irritating when decided who to call in for roles.
So, how do you find your ‘it’ factor?
Take a moment, and grab a piece of paper and something to write with, or perhaps a phone, electronic tablet, open Word document? Just be ready to write a list!
For those of you who have already worked on this at YAC, try doing another one! Has anything on your list changed? Been added? Give it a go!
1. My Appearance? This is the first thing people notice about you as soon as you walk into an audition room, go on tape, perform, etc. So go on, check yourself out! You need to evaluate your appearance and view yourself from an outsider’s perspective. Essentially, be honest! If a stranger bumped into you on the street and walked away, what would be the one feature they’d remember you by? Would it be your style, your eyes, face shape, unique nose, cool hair color, or your beautiful smile? The goal is to stand out, but not to an extreme, i.e. you don’t feel comfortable or like you’re truly being yourself.
2. My Personality? You may need some help with this one; it’s very difficult to objectively write down what your personality traits are! But, your genuine personality is a big factor of what sets you apart from the masses, especially if you can generally pinpoint it. Start off with this: what roles have you already seen in movies, TV shows or plays that most closely resemble you? Are you quirky? Are you witty? Are you shy and sensitive? Are you outgoing and friendly? Are you a clown? Are you a girly-girl? Are you a punk rocker? Are you none of these things? Are you all of these things? It’s up to you to decide, but be honest!
3. My Experience? Did you work on a school theatre set that required you to perform your own stunts? Has most of your on-screen work been in comedies you’ve shot with a friend on YouTube? Been in a period piece at your local or professional theatre? Have you created your own traveling improv troupe? Every time you perform, you acquire a piece of experience that can be put toward your dream role or project. Every role you take on enhances you not only as an actor, but also as a person. And professionally, even the smallest of experiences can be spun in your favor. Your acting experience may show variety and range, which is great, but remember, when trying to impress a casting director, it’s best to emphasize your past work on your resume that is most relevant to the role you’re auditioning for.
4. My Talents? No, no, not acting talent! The other kinds of extra skills, tidbits that are unique to your skill set. Do you have any unusual talents? Burping the alphabet, or singing while your mouth is close may be impressive, but that’s not quite what we’re talking about. Good examples include opera singing, playing an instrument, cool skateboarding tricks, sports you play well, etc. These extra talents are meant to not only show your individuality, but are for when casting directors are casting a role that requires ‘and extra something’. Having these talents separates you from the pool instantly and increases your chances of an audition! And even if you don’t book the role, your chances of being remembered by the casting team also increases heavily.
5. My Background? And finally, what got you to where you are now? How did you get into acting? Are you from a small town in Kentucky? Are you part of a military family? Are you a former child gymnast who decided to pursue acting on whim? Although you won’t likely be asked to tell your life story in a casting room, never underestimate your story and how you’ve gotten to where you are today. Just because you don’t tell it to a casting director today, doesn’t mean that you won’t ever be asked be an agent at a workshop! And who knows! You may even have something in common with the industry people you meet. Just remember, your background, whatever it is, makes you unique!
At the end of the day, your “it factor” is comprised of a variety of things, and whatever factor gives you the extra edge, roll with it!