Written by Lisa Catalina.
Before I let you get to reading, I have to thank Lisa Catalina for leaning in and divulging her secrets from across the casting table. It's not too often that you get the drop on the biz from someone who's not an actor. Her piece is expansive and more than just a fashion statement. I am so eager for you all to go away feeling as encouraged and refreshed as I did after digesting this soon to be vade mecum.
Cheers to you Lisa for preserving the stellar reputation of badass costume ladies! I'm a fan.— E.R.
You know how they say “When you look good, you feel good?" Well, it’s true. There have been times when my outfit is so on point, it makes me stand a little taller and strut a little harder. You always want to strive to look your best, just for the sake of feeling your best! I’m always impressed with actors I work with, not only because of their ability as artists, but some of them are really able to transform into their character when they are in their costume. I’ve had many actors show their gratitude for helping them get into character; whether it was the perfect pair of shoes or the perfect hat. These elements are not only visual aids for the viewer, but also for the actor to perform their best.
Acting is an extremely competitive profession, so many pieces have to fit into place for someone to book that big role that will really change their career. When I partner with an actor or actress, I take the time to really learn about them and their path in life; what they like and what they don’t, their hopes and dreams if you will. But over time, I’ve questioned why some of these extremely talented people are not booking as much as they should, or deserve to. I believe that the root of the issue at hand is simple. YOUR IMAGE. You are your brand. Period. If you want to be a great actor and book great roles, it's definitely up for grabs. The road to greatness starts with the audition and that includes how you dress for it!
My clients always seem to have their “go to” looks for their auditions— girl/boy next door, nerd, hipster, etc. Sometimes it works for them, but most of the time it starts looking tired. Think of your favorite jacket in your closet, maybe you’ve worn it every winter for the past three winters. After a while, it starts looking dull and dated. This happens in our everyday wardrobe at a much faster pace, and especially for your overused character look for those specific auditions. Just because they need you to have a professional look, doesn't mean your oversized pinstriped blazer will fit that description, every time!
Throughout my career costume designing films, working closely with actors, directors, and producers, I have pin-pointed the three key elements on how to stand out in your audition to help you book the gig.
1. The First Impression (Aka, Your Look)
Before you walk in the door you have to realize something extremely important. These casting directors, producers, and directors have been envisioning these characters in their minds for a very long time. Way longer than you’ve even known about the audition, so your work is already cut out for you. They see hundreds of people auditioning for the same character and it gets exhausting for them to see everyone in the same predictable wardrobe. Your first impression shows your dedication to the role, the character, and gratitude for the opportunity to audition. You already know you need to embody the character, but the authenticity comes from every detail head to toe, that goes into the look. It gives the directors a chance to see YOU as the character in a genuine, thought-out, and artistic way. Not only will you score some major unsaid brownie points for your effort and dedication, but knowing you made the right wardrobe choices brings an air of confidence to you that will make you walk in a bit taller and smile a bit brighter.
2. The "IT" Factor (Aka, Your Personality)
Attitude is everything in this life, especially in your audition. Use your confidence to turn up those good energy vibes and make them eager to learn more about you and seeing your performance. So you’re five minutes late? Yeah, we live in LA too, the traffic is horrendous. That’s not a spring board into a vent chat; these people are not your friends (yet). I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but you won’t book a gig 100% on your acting ability, so leave your bad mood at the door. Don't let that be the reason you don't get the job.
3. The Performance (Aka, Your Actual Talent)
This is the real test! Can you act? Of course you can! You’ve taken the time, you’ve done the research, you’ve paid for the classes, now have fun with it! I’ve noticed most directors and producers I work with can always appreciate an actor who has fun with it! This is a serious industry, with a lot of room for fun and creativity. You owe it to yourself to give it all you’ve got.
I hope these three pieces of advice not only prepare you to book your next big role, but also give you the confidence boost you need and deserve! I know trying to stand out amongst the crowd of actors waiting to audition can seem impossible, nevertheless you can't let rejection dissuade you from working towards your goals, because with the right attitude and of course the right outfit, nothing can stop you.
Let us know what you think of Lisa's article by leaving a comment below!
Hi! I'm Lisa Catalina, I am a costume designer in Los Angeles and the founder of Costume Lady. I've been a designer in film and TV since 2012. I've met so many talented artists, and have been lucky enough to help them tell their stories through costume design. Follow Crazy Costume Lady on Instagram and Facebook. For more information and to book packages visit www.crazycostumelady.com.