What Color Should I Wear for On-Camera Auditions?

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When it comes to the best color to wear on camera, the key word is “blue.” Why blue? Colors are a form of energy. When you communicate, you're expressing ideas through energy—your personality, your voice, your appearance, even the color you're wearing! Certain colors have more energy and attraction than others. And which shade is the most popular with most people? You guessed it: blue. Blue is the color of the sky and water. It is the most frequent color found in nature, at least on our planet. On any given day, you'll see more of the color blue than any other shade of the rainbow, so it’s the most universal and the most comfortable. It puts people at ease. 

Now, you may be wondering, “How does this relate to acting?”

When you audition on camera, the first thing anyone sees is the color you're wearing. No matter how brilliant your performance, the casting director will be affected by the color first and the performance second—particularly when you are auditioning for commercials, daytime or primetime TV, or film roles. First impressions count!

Years ago when I auditioned frequently for network TV commercials, I had a $15 Gap blouse. It was my favorite top, somewhere between sky and French blue. I booked more spots wearing that one blouse than any other piece of clothing I owned. It earned me a million dollars over a decade! In more than a few screen tests for the roles of lawyer, doctor, and mother, I wore the blouse. Did I have a successful career because I wore blue? Yes and no. My audition had to be good, and I had to look the part and be the right type, as well. But when competing with dozens of other actors who were all talented, attractive, pleasant, professional with comparable credits, how did I have the edge? Ego says it was my talent. But the final “booking factor” may have been the blue blouse.

Once I was even asked, “Could you please bring that blue blouse as wardrobe for the final shoot?" One commercial casting director who sat in on a final casting session told me that the client (Procter & Gamble) had insisted they hire “that actress in the blue.” True story.

If you want to book more on-camera jobs, get the advice of a color or image consultant or a career coach. What are your best colors? What hairstyle really sells you? What wardrobe best suits your type? But there are a few colors that every actor should watch out for. For on-camera auditions, avoid wearing red, white or black.

White is a no-no for the camera because it tends to create a green shadow around you and glares. Skin tones are off, and you do not look good! Red can be exciting and beautiful to wear in-person for a special interview or for a gutsy song-and-dance number—but on-camera, it's a disaster. The color may turn beet-red, dark, dried-blood red, orange, or ugly pink fuchsia. It doesn’t matter what your skin tone is. Eek! Black looks like a shadow and literally sucks all the energy from you on camera. 

These colors can be great in an actual shoot. During the real thing, there's a person called a “lighting designer” who can add thousands of overhead lights with gels to soften, tone, and perfect the look. Sometimes lighting designers will take an entire day to create the mood and make the lighting fabulous. That's why film stars look so good.

But during an audition in a casting director's studio, you usually have one camera and one little light stand with an umbrella reflecting the strong beam. So these three colors come out weird and make you look, well, less than attractive. You're just shooting yourself in the foot to defy the law of lighting and color. You just won't win. (This applies to headshots, too, by the way.)

I've had several clients who wore the classic, all-black outfit—a black T-shirt, distressed jeans, black boots—to every audition, and then wondered why they never got a callback for anything! Instead of assuming it’s your performance (or blaming the casting director's “lack of imagination”), change your wardrobe and see if you get a different response. I'd be willing to bet on it. You've all heard the classic line, “Dress the part.” Now, just remember, “Dress the color.” First rule of marketing is making you—the product—desirable. How you dress is the wrapping on the product. Go for the blue!

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Gwyn Gilliss
As the “Foremost Marketing Coach for Actors,” Gwyn was a successful actor herself working in all mediums. An Emmy Award nominee, she appeared on dozens of network daytime and primetime series. Her film scripts won awards from Beverly Hills to Cannes. She’s the premier role model with winning strategies and first-hand knowledge of the TV, film, and theater industries which she shares to help actors succeed. Request a complimentary 15-minute career session: gwyngilliss.com/contact.
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