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modeling & talent ● breaking into showbiz By Adam Hill Picture Perfect Taking the right headshot is an important decision for any aspiring actor or model, and it means selecting the right photographer for the job A gents receive a minimum of 350 pictures each week. Casting directors receive the same unless they are casting a project, then the total could be as many as 1,000. What is going to make these business savvy professionals consider your pic- ture as they flip through these hundreds of photos? Before they even consider your résumé, something about your pic- ture must grab their attention. Why are agents and casting directors going to choose your headshot and photos? That is the million dollar ques- tion. Actually, it’s the multimillion dollar question that can change your life. KNOW THE PRODUCT YOU ARE SELLING Too many actors have pictures that will look great on their family’s piano or mantle; however, very few of those 8x10 prints would get an actor entrance into an agent or casting director’s office. Indeed, if you are attractive, it is an advantage in this business. Everybody likes to look at a pretty or handsome face. All the same, being attractive is not enough, unless your looks are extraordinary. Even then you better have the talent to back up your looks. I had a student of whom I was extremely fond. She was a talented comedic actress in her late 60s. The picture she sent to casting directors was taken 20 years prior and made her look another 10 years younger. Additionally, it showed her in a provocative pose. Can you imagine the astonish- ment felt by the casting director when, expecting a sexy 40- year old woman, my nearly 70-year old student walked through the door? Try as I may, I couldn’t get her to take another picture that represented what she actually looked like. The real shame was she missed out on all the projects for which she could have been cast. 22 PAGEANTRY TOM CRUISE I realize she is an extreme example of self-delusion. She saw herself as this young, sexy woman. Nevertheless, she represents, to a lesser degree, many actors. Ask any agent or casting director what they want from a picture and they will tell you they want the picture to look like the person who walks through the door of their office. You can type yourself out of work by having pictures that illustrate how you wished you looked or how you believe the industry wants you to look. I repeat myself—look like you! You are the product being sold. You don’t submit a pic- ture of a ruby and then go in as a diamond. They are ex- pecting a ruby when you walk through the door. The office down the hall may be looking for a diamond, but you did- n’t send them a picture. What else are they looking for in a picture? A real per- son. Models sell products. The more beautiful and/or glam- orous the model, the more the eye is drawn to the ad. Hence, their attractiveness brings us to the product. Actors, on the other hand, sell stories. They sell stories in which we, the audience, can identify. I was coaching a very talented and quite beautiful young actress. Her 8x10 was glamorous and looked very much like this young woman. I asked her how often she was submit- ted for projects. She said at least once or twice per week. I suggested she get another headshot with very little makeup and her hair as casual as she was wearing it at our session. She took my advice and almost immediately her audition- ing quadrupled. Her “girl next door” look was more popu- lar than her glamour shot. WHAT KIND OF PICTURE DO THEY WANT? It is unfortunate but the industry is not consistent with the kind of picture agents and casting directors are looking SHOWBIZ Continued on page 76