10 Qualities You Need to Book the Job

So what exactly makes an actor castable? That’s easy, right? It’s an actor who is talented and can act whatever part they are given.

Not exactly.

We all know actors, from classes or work or life, who may not be all that talented, or even seem to care or want it as much as the rest of us, and yet, they keep getting called in for auditions, quite often booking. What’s up with that?

Simple: Talent will always win out in the end (so keep working out those acting muscles in classes and workshops), but just being talented won’t get you in the door.

Agents, managers, casting directors, etc., need to be able to look at you or your headshot or your reel and know that you are castable before they even decide to bring you in for an audition or meeting. They need to know exactly who you are and what they can do with you. And be confident that you are a marketable commodity. After all, this is a business.

There are certain aspects that all castable actors have in common. How many of these can you check off the list?

1. Knowledge. The actor that is not only castable but also capable of building a career is one who understands the business of this industry. Film and TV is so much more than red carpets, premieres, and huge paychecks. A castable actor is one who can pull back the illusion and magic of acting to reveal a job with rules and parameters like any other profession.

2. Self-Awareness. Knowing who you are and how you fit in this industry is the first and most important step to becoming castable. You must know and own your specific type and the categories in which you can work. You also need to pinpoint and target the roles that you can be cast in today—not roles you want or dream of doing. As I always say, “No one is going to get you, until you get you first.”

3. Presentation. You know who you are, how you fit in, and the roles you can be playing today. Now you need to start presenting yourself in that light. Every type, every category has a specific uniform. This is a visual business, so if you look the part, you may be asked to act it.

4. Individuality/branding. When sitting in the audition waiting room with 25 other actors all your same type, what do you bring unique and special to the role that the others don’t? This is your brand. It is very important to know what separates you from the other actors in your category.

5. Packaging. Understanding the importance of packaging separates an actor who is castable from the part-time actor who says, “I think I want to act if I don’t really have to do anything.” It is bringing everything together in one recognizable, branded, and individualized package. This includes you, your image and clothing, and all marketing materials: headshots, demo reel, postcards, website, web series, etc.

6. Image maintenance. Once you figure out who you are, and how to best package your self and your brand, if you want to remain castable, you need to learn how to maintain and alter those aspects while always staying true to yourself in an ever-changing industry.

7. Flexibility. Being flexible is a great quality of a castable actor. Not only do you need to be able to “Yes, and…” in the acting arena, you should be open to altering your image, look, dress, etc., in order to consistently present the best, most marketable you.

8. Acknowlede limitations. No, you can’t do everything, no matter what your mother told you, but what you can do is “be you” better than anyone else. Becoming the best at doing what you do within your own limitations not only creates a castable actor, it creates a memorable actor.

9. Confidence not cockiness. Confidence is an attractive attribute. A castable actor is one who knows who s/he is and, more importantly, owns it. Cockiness is just a cover up for insecurities and no one wants a cocky, insecure actor on set.

10. Goal setting. Start thinking about your acting career from today plus five years. Let go of who you were or what you did. A castable actor is far too busy to stay in the past. Look to where you want to be and set realistic, honest, and specific goals to get you there.

So? How castable are you?

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Tom Burke
Tom Burke is an image consultant, headshot coach, and acting teacher. After transitioning from a successful print model to an accomplished on-camera actor to a proficient on-set acting coach, Burke focused his wealth of knowledge and keen eye to become one of L.A.’s premier image consultants and headshot coaches, and creator of the Castable Actor, a series of workshops, seminars, and advice designed to help actors open doors to a successful career.
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