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The Working Actor

How to Brand Yourself When You’re a Multi-Hyphenate

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How to Brand Yourself When You’re a Multi-Hyphenate
Photo Source: Thomas Pitilli

Dear Michael:
I’m in the process of refining my marketing materials—in particular, developing a website to house my acting, percussion, voice, and modeling work. And I’m wondering whether it makes better business sense to create one master website with separate sections or two completely separate sites (kind of like customized résumés), one that’s purely theatrical and commercial, the other dealing with music. My line of thinking is that talent services are hired à la carte, which makes me think two sites would be the way to go, since it creates two different brands. Or am I overthinking this?

—Confused in Columbus 

Dear Confused:
In short, I’m inclined to agree 100 percent with your reasoning. It’s hard to sell diversity. People shopping for one particular thing don’t
want to be confused by being offered other things. I’d have specific sites, as you described, and cross-promote with links leading from one to the other. (That way, visitors can discover your other talents if they want to.) Just be sure not to emphasize those links in the websites’ layouts.

In fact, you may want more than two sites. You mentioned modeling. Unfortunately, the old cliché that models can’t act seems to prevail, so you may not want anything about modeling on your acting website.

I’m going to piggyback on your question to address the closely related issue of trying to promote various sides of ourselves as actors. I often hear beginners say they don’t want to be typecast or pigeonholed, and so they try to peddle their full range, all at once, which doesn’t tend to work.

When I started out, I wanted to be like Artemus Gordon, the man of a thousand faces on the old “Wild, Wild West” series who, cleverly disguised, could pass himself off as anything. I soon realized the ineffectiveness of that as a marketing approach. With the vast number of actors out there, casting people can usually find someone who’s spot-on perfect, typewise. Yeah, I could play a tough Italian mobster, but there are about a gabillion guys who can do it more convincingly. I can play an old Southern millionaire, but my ethnic looks make me an unlikely choice beside a tall, white-haired WASP. I can play Puerto Rican, but I’d never be cast over an actor who’s…Puerto Rican.

Agents and casting people don’t look for range. They want to easily assess what I call your “A” market—the types of roles that suit you perfectly, the slam-dunk no-brainers. So market your most sellable sides first, and branch out later. If you’re a very pretty young woman, go with that; you’re not getting cast as the elderly Greek shopkeeper any time soon. If you’re funny-looking and funny, don’t fight it! Whoever you are, be sure that whole package—headshot, résumé, website, and even behavior and attire—presents an easy-to-grasp idea of who you’re most likely to play. Remember: Getting typecast means you’re working. 

If you have a question, critique, comment, or conundrum, write to me at TheWorkingActor@gmail.com, and I’ll try to help.

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