How to Get Work in Commercials
by Ruth Kulerman
Commercial agents are always looking for new faces and you do not have to be beautiful or handsome to book most commercials.
Short answer: Beat out the competition. How? Right look. A certain indefinable quality they are looking for. Dress somewhat appropriately (no ripped jeans if you're up for a young professional). Do something just a tiny bit original. I once booked a commercial where I was to walk a dog in a park. Most of the audition (on camera) was ad lib. I took a long chained purse, dragged it on the floor and kept gooing at my purse/dog. I am positive it was the purse/dog that booked that commercial.
The good news is that commercial agents are always looking for new faces. The even better news is that today you do not have to be beautiful or handsome to book most commercials. In fact the more "ordinary you are" the better. (Their euphemism is "real people.")
With a few exceptions, the ad is about the product and they do not want the actors to be particularly memorable. So send in your most natural looking headshot (no glamour here, unless you are stunning). Read our articles on self-submission letters, envelopes, be sure the agent does commercials and do your mass mailing. Also follow up with a postcard.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that booking a commercial is a shoo-in. I had a major agent who sent me out 67 times before I booked my first commercial. Yes, there were lots of "first refusals," a lot of "holds," and many "call backs" but 67 auditions before the first booking! Got to be a world record for rejection! But then can you imagine the delight in the middle of "Law & Order" of seeing yourself advertising Palmolive! So don't knock commercials. They pay well and the competition is keen and yes they really use trained actors for the most part.