11 Stars Talk Their Awkward First Headshots

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Photo Source: Twitter

Every actor has to get one, even if it can feel a little embarrassing. Although these photos were once kept between talent and casting directors, the age of social media has brought the headshot into the public sphere. Famous actors share their gauche and awkward first attempts on talk shows and Instagram now! And after the popularity of National Old Headshot Day last year, the headshot has become the place performers can good-naturedly laugh at their younger self. We’ve gathered together successful stage and screen actors recalling their first professional photos as actors. After reading these stories, you’ll worry a bit less about any mistakes you may make getting yours ready this year!

Nathalie Emmanuel, “Game of Thrones”
“I was about 10 years old. I remember I had a leotard on that had a high neck. It was so ’80s and orange; it was one of my dance costumes, and my mom was like, ‘Let’s wear that for the picture,’ because I loved it, but it was ridiculous! It looked like a unitard thing with shorts and no arms and a high neck on it. Super cool.”

Beth Leavel, “The Drowsy Chaperone”
“Oh, dear god, it was awful, it was just awful. I had one picture where I had a lot of smoky makeup and wind blowing in my hair, which I loved! I thought, Oh my god, I look like Farrah Fawcett! But it didn’t really look like me at all. I felt good about it until people started going, ‘Can you not use this picture anymore?’ I said, ‘Dammit! I look really pretty!’ ”

READ: Headshots: Everything You Need to Know

Meghann Fahy, “The Bold Type”
“I had it taken in my hometown in Massachusetts by a local photographer. I had him print it black and white because I had only ever seen headshots in black and white and I thought that’s how they were supposed to be, which is not true. They are definitely supposed to be in color. When I went to the open call I brought my black and white headshot and I brought my high school résumé, which included my GPA and my extracurricular activities. And that is what I handed them when I walked in. It was basically my college application.”

Trai Byers, “Empire”
“[It was in] black and white. I didn’t know the difference between a theater picture and I guess a film and television picture. Ever since I wanted to be an actor, I wanted to be in movies, so I didn’t know the difference. I just took a shot with anybody who would shoot me. I had on a jersey, I was about 12 or 13 years old. Fresh face, buck teeth. It was pretty embarrassing, but I’m proud of it. I was a kid, so there you go.”

Rachel Bay Jones, “Dear Evan Hansen”
“It was really cute. I was 12 years old, and I had little dimples and little chubby cheeks and very feathered 1980s hair. It was still black and white.”

Leslie Jones, “Saturday Night Live”
“I think I was I wanna say 32, something maybe. I’m not sure. But I got my hair braided by this girl that lived in my building and when I went to go take the headshot, ’cause it was like you are special. It was at this photo place and I think he was charging me $90 for like 100 shots and I was like, ‘Yes!'...I look so damn corny.”

Dominic Cooper, “Preacher”
“I had this ridiculous hairstyle with hair going over my forehead. I looked like a squashed beet. Bad, crispy hair with ’80s hair gel. Possibly a touch of mousse.”

Maika Monroe, “After Everything”
“I had braces at the time when I got my first headshots. The photographer told me to smile but keep my mouth closed so you wouldn’t see my braces. It was awkward and embarrassing.”

Michael Potts, “Jitney”
“I had a little bit of a Grace Jones haircut, just a little bit. I was wearing some kind of red plaid jacket with a brown corduroy collar. I thought it was a really, really nice jacket. [The photographer] was someone a friend had recommended to me. She was very nice and took some good shots. I don’t even know if I have it now but I remember I was very, very young. I didn’t use it very long because my first agent didn’t like it all. We got new ones immediately.”

READ: 7 Tips for a Better Headshot

Andrea Barber, “Fuller House”
“I remember doing headshots while hula-hooping, wearing silly glasses, and ‘cooking’ with flour all over my face. This was the life of a child actor in the ’80s.”

Chris Pratt, “Avengers: Infinity War”
“I’d just moved to L.A. I knew I wanted to be an actor. I had no idea what to do to become an actor. I had a car and that was it. I’d asked around and my friend said, ‘What you need is something called a headshot, and that’s a picture of your head’.... I was at the post office and there was a guy who was really kind of looking at me for a long time. And he was like, ‘You look familiar. Have I shot you before’ I was like, ‘Oh, I’ve never been shot! Have you shot somebody? I don’t think you've ever shot me. I would know!’ He was like, ‘I’m a photographer.’ In my head, I’m like, ‘Do you do headshots?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, my apartment is two blocks from here.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s go.’ He’s like, ‘You probably need to take a shower. You’re a little messed up.’ He was right! I lived in the car. I took the shower, I got cleaned up, I did my hair.... And then he was like, ‘That shirt’s not gonna do. Here’s one of mine.’ He gave me this shirt that’s in the picture. It’s a white shirt. It’s a nice shirt. I couldn’t afford that shirt. I had that shirt and then he takes the pictures. He tells me what to do: tilt my head, put my arm like this. Takes the film out of the camera, sticks it in the thing, hands me three rolls of camera film, which at the time would have cost me like $400, $500 bucks. Headshots are not inexpensive. And he was like, ‘Good luck, kid’.... That got me on the WB. That got me ‘Everwood.’ ”

Check out Backstage’s Headshot Photographer Listings Yellowpages.