When I first entered into the Hollywood arena, I was a brooding, angst-ridden teenager, with a perfectionist chip on her shoulder and a three-steps-forward-two-steps-back drive that was unable to mow down my insecurities. I had no idea who I was. I had dreams of being a serious, dramatic actress, portraying my fellow brooding, angst-ridden characters, perfectly, like a serious teenage vampire…minus the sparkles.
The problem was, no one saw me as that. Sure, I had some bubbling repressed anger on the inside, but I kept that hidden, buried in the pages of my journal. In the world, people saw me as a smiling, pleasant, sparkly girl next door. Very commercial with a bit of quirk. More of a Reese Witherspoon than an Angelina Jolie. But, for years I rejected my type, refusing to brand myself as that which everyone else saw. I was edgy, dammit! I tried everything I could to pretend to be different than what everyone saw in me. I dyed my hair black. I wore flannel on occasion. My nails were always some variation of Lincoln Park After Dark. Granted, this broody version of myself did get auditions for characters described as a “bitch,” “badass,” or “edgy.” But, more often than not, this “edgy” version of me didn’t book. I was totally faking it. And everyone knew it. Acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances, but I wasn’t even living truthfully in reality. I wasn’t authentically me. I was hiding behind a false idea of something I believed I had to become in order to succeed. But that wasn’t me!
When you aren’t being your authentic self, it can make people feel you are: 1) hiding something, 2) insecure and therefore, possibly not reliable; or, not to be too Holden Caulfield, 3) a “phony.”
Deep down, I knew my purpose on this planet was far greater than being caricature version of myself. I hadn’t embraced who I truly was, in all my sparkly, goofy glory. And when I did, I found my personal brand, which I now call “Crown Yourself,” but better yet, I found true happiness.
People naturally want to do business with a genuine, authentic person.
Your authentic brand is your personality, your appearance, your strengths, and, yes, your weaknesses. It’s YOU, walking confident in all your authentic awesomeness! Owning what you do know…and what you don’t. Knowing exactly who you are, what you are about, and why you’re here.
Your authentic brand is you when you go to an audition, when you walk out the door, go on a date, or chat on the phone from the comfort of your own home. Your authentic brand is 100% absolutely everything you put out into the world, from in person to online to over the phone. It’s up to you to decide how you’re going to show up: as a phony caricature of yourself, or as YOU in all your glorious authenticity. No matter whether you’re an actress, writer, director, producer, editor, or art department, the way you show up in the world defines your brand because it defines how people will perceive you, and, thus, who will or will not want to work with you.
Not sure about your Authentic Brand? Here are some questions to help you discover it:
- Imagine you’re writing yourself as a character in a film. How would you flesh yourself out? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are your passions and dreams? What makes you righteously angry? Journal these questions, and see what you uncover.
- Ask your network: close friends, family, Facebook “friends,” Twitter followers about how they would describe you: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Give them the judgment free space to let them be honest. (Remember: This is to help you grow. Sometimes growth takes a bit of pain in order to see how you need to course correct.) You can always ask them to DM or PM you to keep it private. It’s best NOT to do it via phone, that can get awkward. Having your friends write their opinions of you provides a bit of a buffer.
- Now imagine and journal how you want to be perceived. How do you want to show up in the world? What do you want to be known for?
- Define what your purpose is on this planet. Take the time to let this one marinate. Dig deep. Journal long.
- Now design it. You. Write your story, your past and your future. Create your authentic brand. And grow from there.
- BONUS: Check in with your network every year or so, just to make sure you and your brand are still on the same track.
You can always grow, expand, and deepen your brand…just look at Madonna, or Gaga, or even, for a more subtle reference, Adele. Sure I still have gritty, ugly parts, that perhaps one day will be able to rear their scar-ridden faces in the role of a lifetime…or just translated through a character on the pages I write. But I don’t need to wear them on my shirt, like a giant scarlet “A.” I own my mistakes, my past, my “flaws,” and what I don’t know and I use them as a yardstick to continue to grow my authentic brand.
When I embraced who I was quirks, hips, mistakes, sparkles and all, that’s when I started to feel alive, living in my purpose. The secret was unleashed and success started to gravitate toward me, instead of me pushing it away with my phoniness.
Success lies within your authenticity. When you live from a place where you can show up completely, authentically in the world, the Universe works in wondrous ways. When I did, that’s when I met my hubby. And you know what he thought when he first saw me, “Damn, that girl is sparkly!”
Now go discover yours! I can’t wait to learn what you uncover.
*featured photo courtesy of Dollar Photo Club