The key word for this week is BLUE.
Why blue? Why a color? Colors are a form of energy. When you communicate, you're expressing ideas through energy – your personality, your voice, your appearance, and the COLOR you're wearing! When you appear on camera, the lens picks up the energy of that color. Certain colors have more energy and attraction than others. Bright reds and oranges may have a lot of energy, but to most people, these tones are not very appealing. Red can represent passion but also fire, fear, blood, and anger. Dark somber colors – black, evergreen, and brown – are usually perceived as depressing, cold, and sad. Dull shades of gray, navy, and cranberry usually represent the corporate world. Vibrant and pastel shades are generally the most popular. They're used frequently in nurseries, schools, and hospitals, as they are perceived as happy, relaxing, and healing.
And guess which shade is the most popular with most people? You guessed it. BLUE. Why? Blue is the color of the sky and water. It is the most frequent color used in nature – at least on our planet. And it represents a positive energy. Think about it. Blue skies, blue moon, blue screen, JetBlue, etc. On any given day, you'll see more of the color blue than any shade in the rainbow so it's the most universal and the most comfortable. It puts people at ease. Now, you're asking, “How does this relate to ACTING?”
When you audition on camera the first thing that anyone sees is the color you're wearing. Wear something depressing, annoying, or threatening, and no matter how brilliant your performance, they are going to be affected by the color first and the performance second, particularly when you are auditioning for commercials, daytime/primetime TV, or film roles. First impressions count!
If you are portraying a psychopath/murderer, a desperate housewife, an aggressive district attorney, or an FBI agent, maybe choose to wear the more aggressive colors. But if you're portraying a doctor, lawyer, corporate spokesperson, or even a happy parent, use blue in your ensemble and you'll book more jobs. Try it!
Years ago when I auditioned frequently for network TV commercials, I had a $15 Gap blouse. It was my favorite blouse. It was somewhere between sky and French blue. I booked more spots wearing that one top 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, Mom, 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" might 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 had sat in on a final casting session told me that the client (Procter and Gamble) had insisted they hire "that actress in the blue!" and so I booked that high paying network TV spot. 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 strongest/best colors? What hairstyle really sells you? What wardrobe best suits your type? Auditioning is an art – every detail is important. A career coach can advise you on all the above.
Here are some takeaway tips:
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/audition or for a gutsy song-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. Eeek!
Black looks like a shadow and literally sucks all the energy from you on camera. (Especially if you have dark skin tones – all the more reason to wear something vibrant so you stand out!)
These colors can be great in an actual shoot because during the real thing, there's a person called a "lighting designer" who can add thousands of overhead lights with "gels" to soften/tone/perfect the look. Sometimes he’ll 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 call back 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!
As the founder and executive director of The Actors's Market, Gwyn Gilliss provides free monthly info seminars, agent/casting director interview tele-seminars, weekly marketing tips, as well as many coaching programs to help actors break into both the NY and L.A. industries. Gwyn has tremendous success with her private career coaching clients. More than 90 percent get agent representation launching their careers with performances in feature films, Broadway productions, and Emmy-award-winning primetime TV series, such as "The Good Wife," "White Collar," "Grey's Anatomy," "NCIS," "House," "Law & Order," "30 Rock," "Criminal Minds."
Email her to request a free 15-minute career session: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inspired by this post? Check out our commercial audition listings!