Commercial Actors Should Never Give Up on Commercials Without Realizing It

I’ll be honest, I don’t remember the context of the conversation, but I very clearly remember having it. I was talking with an actor who has been at it for quite some time. He isn’t famous but has been hired plenty of (MANY) times over the years—you know, where lots of actors find themselves, somewhere in that grey, middle area of the success arena. He told me, “When I go to a theatrical audition, I know I can book it. When I go to a commercial audition, I never think I will.”

Ugh.

Commercial actors should never give up on commercials without realizing it.

So the big question is: have YOU given up on commercials? Is it possible you have, and you don’t even know it? Or worse, is it possible you pursue commercial work, but you’ve never actually given it any focus or effort?

It’s not lost on me that some actors purposefully choose not to focus on, or participate in, commercials. Not many people dream of becoming a commercial actor. Actors rarely relocate to the big city so they can book commercials. Most actors have goals of booking big budget feature films, becoming series regulars, walking the red carpet, and possibly becoming a star. Not many actors achieve fame by starring in a commercial, although we can all think of a few, yes? Hello, Flo. Good day, Most Interesting Man in the World. But I’m assuming you can follow where I’m going with this.

Now it’s time to be brutally honest with yourself. Do you believe that you’ll never get more than a few commercial auditions? Do you tell yourself you’ll never book the job on the rare occasion (or, heck, the many occasions) you DO get a commercial audition? Have you given up?

If you have no hope of getting regular commercial auditions, or after receiving a commercial audition notice find yourself assuming you won’t book it well before actually attending the audition, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How long has it been since you’ve had new commercial headshots taken?
  • Do you study commercials? Do you watch them regularly with this in mind?
  • Do you know what your commercial types are?
  • Do you have great headshots that represent all your types?
  • Do you know the wardrobe and hair that reflects these types? Do you have the wardrobe/hair?
  • How long has it been since you updated your resume?
  • Do you know what a good commercial resume contains? Are you assuming or do you know?
  • Have you ever taken a commercial class? How long ago was it?
  • Are you taking a comedy or improv class?
  • How long has it been since you talked to your agent about your commercial career?
  • Have you seen your agent?
  • Do you reach out to commercial casting directors?
  • Are you reading current commercial breakdowns looking for trends/requested skills?
  • Have you met with a commercial mentor (actor or industry pro)?
  • Do you follow up with industry contacts regularly?
  • Have you worked in a commercial casting office or as a reader for commercials?

Excessive? Not at all, actually. Those are some of the things actors do who are actively involved in their commercial career. Those are the things an actor must do to have a commercial career. If you find yourself believing you will never book a commercial, you should ask yourself if you are actually working at it vs. just hoping you might get lucky. And if you’ve lost hope, you may need to do a little soul searching to know if a commercial career something you actually want, with full understanding it requires time, money, and effort.

There’s no shame in making an informed decision not to pursue commercial work. There’s often feelings of heartache and frustration when an actor believes they are doing what it takes to be successful in commercials, when they aren’t. These feelings are avoidable. Make the choice to pursue (really, really pursue) or not to pursue commercials, and enjoy the success or freedom that decision brings.


**Want to take a 4-week Commercial Class with Laurie Records? Check it out and sign up now at: www.laurierecordscasting.com.**

Laurie Records (Casting Director, CCDA) has been working in the commercial realm since 2004. In 2009, Laurie launched her own company. While she casts all types of commercials, she has broadened her horizons to include casting web content for network television, television hosts, voiceover, industrials, and dabbles in casting features and short films. Recent commercial jobs include: Head & Shoulders, Mercedes, and KMART. She also cast the new Movie Surfers for seasons 16/17, as well as online content for The Muppets.

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