What is it about your personal qualities and your appearance that distinguishes you from other actors? What is the image you project when auditioning for a commercial? In this week’s episode of Casting Frontier’s Bring It! video series, casting veteran James Levine and actor and session director Charles Carpenter discuss ways to figure out what your brand is with the goal of matching your unique selling points with the needs of a company for advertising purposes.

What is your brand?

To determine your brand, it requires self-reflection. How do you perceive yourself? What is your essence and physical type? What are your attitudes, interests, and behaviors? How do you use your unique presence and voice?

Another aspect of your brand revolves around how the world perceives you. How would friends, family, and perfect strangers describe you? “Your image may not match up with you as a person,” Levine says. For example, over the years, Carpenter has discovered his brand is that of a vulnerable hero; however, although he’s a great match for the role of a firefighter, he has no experience with rushing into burning buildings in his personal life. Therefore, Levine clarifies an important aspect about branding, saying both an actor and casting “have to have a mutual understanding about what [an actor’s] image says.”

Still not sure what your brand is? Charles suggests playing an essence exercise. That is, throw a party inviting several of your friends and family members—maybe even have them bring some guests who’ve never met you—and allow them to describe the image you project as you stand silently before them. What brands do they think you’re suited to represent? What would they imagine a person like you eats, drinks, drives? What kind of job might you hold, and what kind of TV shows would you watch? What kind of phrases could they imagine you saying? Perhaps: “Get your dog off my lawn!” or “Is this valet parking?” Don’t react; just absorb whatever they say. Have them list adjectives to describe you—and make sure to encourage them to be honest and not necessarily complementary. Quirky, brooding, edgy, athletic, vulnerable, ordinary appearance, bright-eyed, weathered, trustworthy—pay attention to what words are mentioned most often.

Don’t be vague

People aren’t always glad to hear they’re being labeled or categorized. They like to feel their lives are open-ended and they could fit into various categories at will and through their training. But understanding the kinds of roles you best match can make the difference between an actor who is working and who is not. As Levine says, “If you don’t know what [your brand] is, you’re vague. And vague gets you nowhere.” The sooner you can figure out your brand, the sooner you can relay this information to photographers to reflect this image in your headshots and be called in for these specific kinds of roles.

Determined to help actors cut through the mystery associated with the casting process, James Levine authored an enlightening book entitled Bring It, along with Charles Carpenter and Jim Martyka, which will be released digitally in the near future. In the book, Levine shares helpful audition information from the vantage point of a casting director as it relates to commercial, film and television acting. The book’s chapters correspond to the Bring It! YouTube series.

Casting Frontier’s YouTube channel publishes weekly video tips, tricks, best practices, interviews with industry professionals and more. Stay tuned next week to watch the seventh episode of the Bring It! series with James and Charles. Or better yet, subscribe to the channel so you know as soon as the next episode is out!