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How to Book Your First Commercial as an Actor (& The One Thing No One Tells You)

So, you’re a keen actor who wants to book your first commercial; or maybe you’re an influencer who’s found a passion for acting and wants to give commercial work a go. Commercial work is fun, it’s exciting and there’s often a big paycheck involved for a small amount of work (seriously, it doesn’t get much better than that!)

Commercials are pretty lucrative, which also means it can be quite competitive to get on camera. But, don’t let that stop you from diving headfirst and giving it a go. Whether you have acting experience or not, the most important thing to remember is you offer something no one else does – you are completely unique in the way you look, talk, act and your overall vibe, and this can really help you stand out, land an audition and book your first commercial.

In this article, we’re breaking down everything you need to know to book your first commercial and kick off your acting career – from finding casting calls to your headshot and profile, and what commercial casting directors are looking for when you walk into the audition room (or audition via a self-tape/zoom). 

Where to Find Commercial Auditions 

There are a few ways you can go about finding and booking commercial auditions, whether you have an agent who submits you for auditions or whether you’re a freelance actor or influencer using platforms like theright.fit to find auditions. 

While having a talent agent is a great way to find TV commercials, the thing to remember is if you book a commercial your agent found you, they take a percentage of your final fee and depending on your agent, it can be as high as 25%-30% of your talent fee.

Most other casting platforms you’ll find auditions on will also take some sort of commission if you book the role, but these are typically a lot less than traditional agents. 

To secure an acting agent, you’d need to have professional experience, qualifications and training. So using marketplaces or online casting sites to book castings and jobs is a great way to build your experience, beef up your portfolio & showreel and work, which will all increase your chances of getting an agent or booking more freelance projects.

Nail Your Casting Profile 

Before you even get an audition, there could be a few things holding you back. If your casting profile isn’t up to scratch, you might find it challenging to get casting directors to look in your direction – but don’t panic! There are a few simple things you can add to your profile to spruce it up.

Firstly, make sure your bio is perfect. We recommend starting with the "who, what, where, how, why" to form the foundation of your bio. Your casting profile should also have a range of professional photos – from headshots to photos from other campaigns you’ve done, like influencer marketing campaigns, stills from other photo shoots for example. These photos should showcase you honestly and in the best possible light. It’s important they clearly show your face and hair as it currently is, and an up to date view of your look. Video reels are also important, but not essential for commercials, especially if you are not playing a speaking role. However, having some video content showing you smashing it in front of the camera will definitely help you secure those higher paying gigs and lead roles, and are vital if you want to move into a professional career as an actor.

If you’re very new to acting or modelling and don’t have any professional photos or videos, look for some TFP shoots (Time For Print), which are basically photographers/videographers and models/actors collaborating for free to practice or build up their respective portfolios. If you’re serious about pursuing a career as an actor, then it's important to invest in your profile and portfolio, just like any career. Getting great professional headshots and a showreel will be vital to landing you more work.

Men and women lined up holding their resume for casting calls

Auditioning (In-Person & Online)

The pandemic certainly changed the casting process for commercials, with many now taking place online. Some commercial auditions will first require only a self-tape and if the casting director likes you, they’ll either offer you the job or if it’s for a bigger commercial, ask you to attend an in-person call-back. Here’s how to crush both.

The Self-Tape 

First off, make sure you shoot horizontally, against a blank wall ideally and with good natural lighting. Position yourself in the centre of the frame. Then, get talking! Every self-tape should start off with your name, age, height and location. 

Whether the audition process is speaking some lines or acting out a few movements, take your time and feel free to do a few tapes until you’re happy with it. This is the benefit of at-home auditions – you can retake as many times as you like! 

In-Person/Call-Backs 

If the audition is in-person or you’ve secured a call-back from your self-tape (go you!) Here's how to impress the casting director and book the commercial. 

  • Bring your A game: Casting directors/brands want to see you at your best, which means getting a good sleep the night before and being ready to go as soon as you walk through the casting doors. An audition is your time to shine and show them you are comfortable in your own skin, can take direction and very importantly, are easy to work with. Make sure you are on time, have practiced your lines, and are professional in your communication - don't forget to thank them for seeing you!
  • Choose the right clothes: What you wear is also important, and while you don’t have to dress up in the character/role you’re auditioning for, you can subtly hint at character through your clothing choices. Basically, where something appropriate for the situation. If you’re going for a “mum-like” character, probably don’t show up in very tight denim shorts and a crop top! What you wear helps them visualize you in the role - so think through what you wear and how you style your hair & makeup.
  • Be yourself: Despite common beliefs, acting is actually all about being your authentic self. The casting directors know what they’re looking for so if you put your best foot forward, you’ll have the greatest chance of booking the commercial.
4 girls in an online audition

The One Thing No One Tells You About Commercials 

We’re all about honesty here, and the honest truth is commercial acting can be a tough gig. The thing is, when casting commercials, directors and/or brands typically have a very specific look in mind, and that’s why it’s important to pay attention to job details/read about their ideal candidate. 

For example, if they’re looking for a mum-type who’s 35+ years old, you’ll be wasting your time and theirs by applying if you’re in your early 20s and all of your portfolio is youth style photos or high fashion shots! Casting directors can get as specific as height, body shape, hair colour and ethnic background, so pay attention to these details. Nothing frustrates a casting director more than having actors apply who don't suit the role they are casting for - and they will certainly remember your name in future if you are a repeat offender of applying for roles you don't match. It’s a big no-no in the industry. 

So just remember, not landing a commercial acting gig isn’t personal, it sometimes really can be a game of luck and happening to fit the brief perfectly. But please, don’t be discouraged! The more you submit to roles, audition and just keep practicing and taking onboard feedback, the more commercials you’ll start booking.

Commercial Acting FAQs

What training do I need to become a commercial actor?

The good news is you don’t really need any formal training to become a commercial actor – you can land your first commercial gig with no training whatsoever. If you’re outgoing, charming, confident and warm, you naturally have what it takes to be on TV. Of course, commercial acting classes, acting school and workshops can help refine your skills, but they aren’t essential. The more experience you have, either through courses, learning on set, or through being involved in student short films etc, the better your chances are of nailing the casting and booking that job.

How much do commercial actors make?

Depending on the role, commercial actors can be anywhere from $500 - $10,000+ for a commercial. The fee typically depends on how big the brand is, and the usage (is it going on TV for one year? Two years?), if the role is for a feature role or background role, and also whether it will live on social media as well.

Where to find auditions for commercials?

There are many ways to find auditions for commercials – starting with theright.fit! We have a range of amazing brands posting commercial auditions all the time, and it’s super easy to apply.

Start Applying for Roles Today

You don’t need to wait until you’ve built up enough experience to start applying for commercials – just give it a go! Acting is all about practice, so take onboard our tips, keep applying, keep practicing and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful commercial actor. 

If you’re ready to land your next big acting gig, then its time to join theright.fit today and get started matching with brands! Download the app, create your profile and we look forward to seeing you on our TV screens soon!

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