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Four Reasons Actors Book Commercials

By: Carolyne Barry

You get a commercial callback. Ten to twenty-five actors up for the same role as you. You do a great job and don’t get booked or you do a “so-so” job and you get the commercial. Rather confusing, right? You have to ask yourself what is going on in the minds of those making the decisions. How are they judging the actors and their auditions? Who gets booked – is it luck?Wonder what are the casting factors that are the determinants?

Based on all my experience as an actress, casting director and teacher, I do believe there is a casting formula utilized when booking actors for commercials. It is only my educated opinion but I REALLY believe that this is basically the formula and value percentages.


30 % – What You Look Like –

Since there is some agreement between the ad execs and the director on the “aspirational” and/or “inspirational” looks of those being called back, the importance of the actor’s physicality is still important but now since it is still subjective, it is about 30%.

What also is relevant in the “looks” area, especially at the callback, is when it is necessary to match actors with spouses, friends, workers or family.- Do they look like they belong together.

40 % – Talent and Creativity

What the actor does in their audition, how they take direction, their creativity and talent now becomes the prominent factor.

20 % – Attitude, Personality and Essence

Those behind the table at callbacks, are watching everything you do from when you walk in the room until you walk out. How you take direction, what questions you might ask and how you relate to the director and others actors you might be auditioning with. Those decision-makers are checking to see if your personality and essence is right for the role and ALSO if there are any reasons why you would be difficult to work with.

10 % – Wildcard Factors

And finishing up the BOOKING equation are wildcard factors: it could be anything from the actor’s wardrobe (which one of the decision-makers really likes for the spot) to any of the execs or director having subjective preferences or dislikes. I’ve heard so many wildcard reasons, i.e. one of the clients, not choosing an actress that everyone else wanted because she reminded him of his ex-wife. Another one is an actor shaking hands with the director and his hands are sweaty which makes the director uncomfortable, There are too many subjective wild card factors to cover here but I am sure you can imagine others.

In review , this is my understanding of the primary considerations when making booking decisions. 30% looks, 40% talent, creativity and how well the actor takes direction, 20% Attitude, personality and essence and 10% Wildcard factors.

These considerations are just parts of the casting equation and are all considered. Know that: if an actor is a great physical type for a particular spot and does a great audition but he/she comes off arrogant or too silly then he/she will probably not get the job. Or if he/she is really has a great personality and essence and is the perfect type but does not do a good job with the material or scenario then again, he/she will probably not get booked.

This information should help you to not take it personal or think you did a bad job when you don’t get a booking. And it should help you have the insights you need to put the odds in your favor for booking commercials. And by the way a lot of this is also applicable for booking smaller roles in film and TV.

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