Actors: You vs. Your Brand


Who are you? Truly, at your core? You hear constantly that you have to figure out how you can bring your true authentic self to a role. But what is your authentic self? This is something you really have to figure out as an actor. And even more importantly you have to bring your authentic self to your brand and find that balance between you as a business and your individual assets. Do you know what I’m talking about?

Our brand is the persona or character that other people (or yourself) have characterized you as. This is often what you are going to be cast as, and some actors get concerned that they will be pigeon-holed as this brand. This sometimes falls under character tropes like “girl-next-door” or “bad boy,” but it also has other shades of distinction. What socioeconomic class of people do you play? What area of the world do you look like you’re from?

But things can get tricky when your brand and your true self don’t align. Additionally, as we grow and mature as people our true essence as a person does change. Maybe you had a traumatic event or a bad break up that shifted your personality. Maybe you’ve just decided to pick up a new hobby that brings out a whole different side of yourself?  How do you figure out what is you, what is your brand, and how those two things can coexist?

I have recently had this shift in branding and I wanted to share my experience, because I think it can help others address their identity, especially as we start this new year of 2019!

I have always been classified as a “girl-next-door.” I am peppy and smart. I am 100% the girl you would take home to your parents. Additionally, this is truly who I am as a person. I love making other people happy. Entertaining and bringing people baked goods is one of my favorite things to do. So, for the last four years, my social media, headshots, pictures, reel all branded me as a peppy “girl-next-door.”

This all started to shift in the past year or so. What exactly started to shift? The roles I was cast in and the breakdowns I began to be drawn to. A little over a year ago I filmed a Star Wars short film that opened up a whole new world of roles for me. Soon after, I played a recovering alcoholic. Previously, I had always focused on comedy, but in both pieces I was given the opportunity to bring to life a character with many layers of darkness inside of her.

Interestingly, as I started to enjoy tackling those darker roles, my wardrobe, social media, and the breakdowns that appealed to me started to shift as well. The darker roles began to appeal to me more and now when I put on my typical cute skirts with bows in my hair I began to feel like that wardrobe choice was actually a costume. See, I think we need to pay attention to our instincts. As we change, our gut and affinity for certain things begins to change as well.  I think we each have something that gives an indication of who we are becoming as people. For me it is my clothes. Whatever clothes I am gravitating towards in my daily wear indicates to me a shift in my personality. For others it might be the sorts of shows you are now drawn to or the things that you like to do in your daily life. Yes, we are actors and want to believe that we can do it all, but our essence and who we are at our core will still seep through. Who I am is changing, and therefore, so is my brand.

Deborah Smith
Before. (photo by David Muller) After. (photo by Dana Patrick)

If you look at performers across the board you can see this happening. Whether it is Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” video which was a very deliberate change in brand, or Anne Hathaway going from princess to Catwoman, these top tier actors change their brands as they change as people. Yes, they have a whole team of people around them to orchestrate this change, but all you truly need is yourself. You know who you are better than anyone, so stop ignoring that gut instinct.

I will leave you with this, you and your brand are intrinsically tied but if your brand starts to stray far away from who you are, or who you are becoming, people will begin to notice. Acting is all about authenticity so figure out who you are and let that authentic self shine, on and off the screen.

Before. (photo by David Muller) After. (photo by Dana Patrick)