USP

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    It's a subject that I've posted before, but I was wondering what your take is on it. As I'm finding it harder and harder to find an agent, I'm realising how essential it seems to be to have a USP or Unique Selling Point. What is yours? Was it something you've always known or have discovered along the way? What is the unique feature that best sells you?

    • 5th Jul 2010
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    Er... I've never heard of a USP before. I guess it would be my acting??!! (I think this shows my lack of acting business savvy) What do you feel you need a USP for? V x

    • 28th Jun 2010
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    You are not alone, Van ... with you all the way on this one !!.

    • 28th Jun 2010
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    There you go, Emily - Allan's a very experienced pro!! :) :) I wouldn't fret about it. Just keep chasing, we all find it REALLY hard to get an agent. And dealing with the rejection, it's horrid. But USP's....? Keep sticking at it, Emily :) xx

    • 28th Jun 2010
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    Maybe I didn't explain myself properly... whoops. I mean what is it about you specifically (apart from your acting itself) that is sellable? When you're in a casting bracket that is quite over subscribed you often have to find something different to sell - whether it be a regional accent, a musical instrument that you can play, even your hair colour. I was just curious as to whether you have something like this that hepls you get noticed?

    • 28th Jun 2010
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  • Paul Newbery

    Actor

    Having a USP can go for and against you but can help break a barrier into a better casting i think.

    Some have an obvious USP whereas yours whatever it is is less obvious.Your chances of getting an agent will up themselves tenfold once you have a showreel and make your own style of acting your USP.

    • 28th Jun 2010
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    Ah, I see... Well, Paul is right - getting a showreel up and running is the one thing that will optimise your chances of being seen by an agent. As he says, then your acting will be your USP. x

    • 28th Jun 2010
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  • Mark Kempner

    Actor

    several USP's one can equip themselves with

    1 talent

    2 remaining professional on and off set

    3 being nice to work with

    4 One of my Video showreels!!!

    If you have all four above....you will work one way or the other....however, it's maintaining the work that counts, so I guess Experience could count as a USP!

    A great agent, 4 legs.....5 arms, 3 eyes and so on!!!!

    • 28th Jun 2010
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  • Nigel Peever

    Actor

    I tend to think my USP is probably my make up skills , so often I meet trained actors who have no make up kit or idea how to apply it for anything like a character make up, let alone my fiddling with thousands of human hairs to knot them into a lace wig given time.

    I remember asking one actor about make up and was told that the company would have to supply it and have someone to apply it for him. Like that's gonna happen every time.

    I actually really enjoy the creating the characters appearance just as much as the voice and mannerisms and find the time before the show quite therapeutic applying the stuff. It also helps a lot as one of my main areas of work is panto villain and I can really go to town to make my head match the gorgeous costumes :-)

    • 28th Jun 2010
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  • Steffen Gash

    Actor

    If you read stanislavski he mentions something about all this that some people have a natural aura that draws people in regardless of actual talent.

    Keep trying just keep trying eventually someone will notice.

    If not monetary bribes can work a treat :)

    • 28th Jun 2010
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  • Guy Press

    Actor

    Surely your USP is YOU.... unless you have a total clone. Other than that we're all human thank God. ;-)

    Best to everyone and try not to over analyse - this can be any Actors greatest downside. Speaking from both sides of the camera! ;-)

    • 29th Jun 2010
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  • Mike Henley

    Actor

    Is a USP what they used to call typecasting?

    • 29th Jun 2010
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    Sensible words from Guy - common sense should prevail..our acting is our selling point :) :) xx

    • 29th Jun 2010
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  • User Deleted

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    Felt compelled to reply to this thread, as I feel you are all being somewhat hearsh and a little naive in your responses to Emily.

    From an agents point of view, Emily is totally correct - she does need a USP, and to say that is her acting is totally naive. Emily is in the most oversubscribed category there is, pretty 20 something female - for which there are probably less breifs that come out than for any other 'type'. Therefore she is going to find this industry at least 10 times more frustrating and competitive than those that have posted replies.

    Any agent will get dozens and dozens of application from actresses in Emily's 'type' each week - and she is completely correct in assuming that she needs that little something different to get them to notice her in the crowd. Unfortunately talent alone is not sufficient - I can honestly say that sadly it is not the most talented on our books that get the most work - it is the most commercially viable, that fit breif after brief and have a 'look' that appeals to Casting Directors.

    Emily I would suggest you get a colour headshot on your profile to highlight your colouring, and if your hair colour is natural, make sure agents know this, as you would then be ideal for period work (which not alot of 20 something females are due to hair styles/dying of hair etc)

    For me your 'look' is a key strength, as forgive if this is in any way offensive - you are not competing with the stunningly gorgeous girls in your age bracket - you fit better for gritty character parts. Which is great news on the drama front, but is likley to mean that you will be less successful at commercial castings. Therefore I would concentrate your efforts in trying to find an agent who has most dealings in Drama and Theatre.

    I hope you find this constructive, and very best of luck with your career.

    Best, Lee

    PS The others who commented are of course completely accurate in that the more tools you have the wider your options will be - try and get that showreel together and really show potential agents what they are missing!!

    • 29th Jun 2010
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  • Nigel Peever

    Actor

    Quite . Right but is it unique ? :-) there are a lot of us.

    • 29th Jun 2010
    • 14
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    Thanks Lee - I really, really appreciate you taking the time to comment, and it's really nice to hear from an agent's point of view. It can get frustrating, but it's nice to know that I wasn't imagining that it's a lot harder to break into this industry when you're 'my type.' I was starting to doubt my own certainty! (And no, your comments didn't offend me whatsoever). I've been told a lot that period work is where I need to focus - and my hair is natural - but I'm not entirely sure where to start on that!

    And thank you so much to everyone else as well. I think Lee put it a lot better than I did when trying to explain that it's harder to stand out when you are a certain type. Anyhoo, I really need to start saving the pennies for a showreel I suppose. Best of luck to all, and enjoy the sunny weather! (Well, it's hot in Wiltshire anyway, not sure about anywhere else) xx

    • 29th Jun 2010
    • 15
  • User Deleted

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    I completely agree that you do need a unique selling point as what most people seem to forget in desperate times is that this is a business. In any business, you need to grow, adapt and you need to find what makes you stand out from the rest and gets you noticed. For actors, that means having a high level of castability for either television, theatre, certain things that make you a clear choice for certain characters whether thats your physical appearance, voice or whatever. Now this is different for everyone and how you go about promoting this is your own (or agents) choice.

    Of course, Talent is a must but it is naive to believe that this alone will get you to the top (where ever that may be). In an ideal world, yes, this would happen but unfortunately, like every business, people are in it to here to make money (maybe not the actors...). You can be a phenomenally good actor but as Emily has stated, she in a horrible casting bracket amongst millions of other girls trying to do exactly the same thing and the need to have something that sells you as well as your acting talent is essential.

    I'm not saying you do a Tesco and believe that you can do and play everything but I agree that you need to have little things that can set you apart from the crowd. Some people might not even realise that they have one (or many). It could be something that you learn or acquire or maybe something that you're born with. This could be height, weight, dancing, amazing personality, instant likeability, musical ability, magnificent stage presence and so on. It can even be a subtle as someone having the most amazing eyes. Step forward Daniel Craig.

    It is extremely hard to break though and so many factors go with it. Talent, hard work, luck, right look, right person, right place, the right mood, the right circumstances, saying the right thing (you get the idea). Having all this combined and more is ultimately rare and that's often the case with actors not ever reaching the career highs they crave and in some cases, deserve.

    So I agree that you need something unique about yourself that makes you more attractive to agents and casting directors. It's not easy by any means, in fact, it's bloody difficult.

    I also understand the counter argument of people who some deem some actors to be maybe not up to standard and still getting plenty of work, getting an amazing agent, getting high profile jobs, getting their break because of this and that but unfortunately, that is the business. That is life. It's not fair and you just have to get used to it and accept it. It just might be that their unique selling point got them there so you just have to believe that it could happen to you.

    Finally, in regards to your looks there Emily, I think you're really pretty. Pretty in a gritty way. But still Pretty. Pretty.

    • 29th Jun 2010
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  • Paul Newbery

    Actor

    I've had problems with my teeth since i was a little boy.I turned an insecurity into a positive and now although i know i wont get an aquafresh commercial hehe i know i stand a chance with horror castings/country bumpkin etc.Sometimes what you dislike about yourself is your USP

    • 29th Jun 2010
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  • Hugh Osborne

    Actor

    One other way of looking at it, if you are searching for an agent,is to trawl through their books and see what is missing. If Agent X has one ginger, freckled 5'3" northern female in the 20-25 bracket, then they are probably not going to want another. Conversely, if Agent Y doesn't have one ginger, freckled etc etc, and you yourself fit that description, then it's clearly worth a punt approaching them.

    In other words, trawling through a given agent's clients might well give you a clue as to what your USP might be for that particular agent. The gaps in a different agent's list might well throw up a host of different USPs.

    In fact, I'd stop thinking in terms of uniqueness altogether, and start thinking in terms of your potential usefulness to an agent.

    One last word on USPs: when I was younger, there was a chap whose sole contribution to performance art was his ability - or should that be 'willingness' - to hit himself repeatedly over the head with a metal tray while singing 'Mule Train'. This bloke didn't have an illustrious career, I suspect, but whenever anyone wanted someone who would hit themselves over the head with a metal tray while singing 'Mule Train', he was the natural first choice. The question is, how often did they go to him when they DIDN'T want someone who would hit themselves over the head with a metal tray while singing 'Mule Train'? My guess is: they didn't.

    The chap in question had a USP - a VUSP, in fact - but the imponderable question is, would he have worked AT ALL without his USP, or did he ghettoise himself so successfully that he excluded himself from being considered for a wealth of other jobs?

    Must dash, as I've got to refit my tap shoes to my unicycle before tomorrow's class on plate-spinning in Finnish.

    Hx

    • 30th Jun 2010
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  • Guy Press

    Actor

    Hi Emily and all,

    As someone who Casts, Produces and Directs ( Blah Blah blah! ;-) ) A USP for Actors and every other human can only be Themselves - it's their DNA. Unless as stated you have a clone, or can Run 100m in under 5 seconds, fly unaided etc...

    We get bogged down in standing out from the Crowd and anacronyms... but we're all different with different prejudices / thoughts.

    So what stands out for you, may not stand out for me - when I'm casting especially if I'm looking for skills +

    To your original point Emily what would be your USP's well some of the points Lee mentioned may market you but again it's all in the eye of the beholder. Commercial Directives and thoughts change constantly.

    Just be yourself that's your USP!! Best to you and all!

    ;-)

    • 30th Jun 2010
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