How to make a good first impression as an actor
This is very important of course, as we all know that first impressions can make all the difference. Whether it’s for an application, an audition, in the rehearsal room or anywhere really, first impressions have to be taken into consideration and thought about, as it’s the first impression that lasts the longest and is instrumental in how people think about you there and then, and for a long time afterwards. It can be very hard to quash and change a bad first impression, so work on this and try to make the best one.
From my point of view (which you may think is a load of rubbish so feel free to ignore!), I would say the best thing to think about is how you would like to see someone when they make a first impression on you – try and see it from a casting director’s, director’s or agent’s side. What would you like to see?
For me, as in life I always like to see someone who’s confident and comfortable in their own skin (it’s the only one you’ll have after all), but not cocky or arrogant. Also friendly, but not someone who comes across as creepy, or a trap that’s easy to fall into, pandering. I like to see people who know their subject and are passionate about it, and are not afraid to show that passion as much as they like. People who almost explode with passion and love for their interests are very attractive, and therefore are very hard to ignore as collaborators, and if you can be and come across as someone who knows and loves their stuff more than then people interviewing or meeting you, then you are inevitably going to give them a killer first impression.
If you are writing a letter, try and use letter headed paper when you do; this will make you look like a business (you are, aren’t you?), you mean business, and are a professional who firmly belongs in the industry. If you want to create one, include on it your name, your contact details and your Spotlight number, so you don’t have to always type it out or write it down at the end of every letter.
Also depending on the situation, I sometimes like to write hand written notes on letter headed paper, if it’s just a quick one and less formal. It’s a lot more personal, and it shows that you’ve taken time to write to them. People like that; remember when you used to get hand written letters? For good examples of letter headed paper just look online and you’ll find loads of great examples; just pick one you like best and do your best to copy it!
Back to the meeting, keep in mind that you are still making your first impressions on a person or panel right up until you walk out of the room (or even in the case of one audition, walking down the street after they’ve walked out of the room. It’s rumoured that Sean Connery got cast as Bond because after he left a meeting with Cubby Broccoli, he watched Connery from his office window, and noticed that he walked like a panther. This is what convinced Broccoli to cast Connery as Bond, so remember you might still be being watched until you completely disappear from sight). Right up until the end keep the professionalism and friendliness up, and when it finally is time to go, shake their hand, look them straight in the eye, smile, thank them and leave. Again, try and think about what you might like to see and do variations on this or do what you might like.
And finally, when you are meeting a particular person try and find out what they might like to see and hear. Many casting directors have done Q and A’s, interviews and podcasts with casting websites, newspapers and Spotlight in particular, so hunt these down, read and listen to them, and follow their advice individually. And would you look at that, next time you write to them or meet them, you are coming across exactly as they love to see people come across. And importantly, even if they can ‘see through’ this and may realise that you have researched them and what they like, it’s still going to count for you as they’ll know you’ve done your research and homework, and they’ll be flattered about this. Good luck.