There is nothing more excruciating for actors than getting headshots done. I’m sure the model slash actors of the world don’t mind them much but for actors who don’t regularly smolder and smize into a still camera lens we HATE IT. Because there is too much PRESSURE. Our headshots are our calling card, the thing that will get us noticed and into a room (LOLZ JK. No one gets into rooms anymore. We have to self tape with our unwilling, non-actor boyfriends or roommates like an asshole, just knowing that the casting director is going to hit SKIP after the first three seconds and give absolutely zero feedback. CoolCOolCOOL.)
But I digress. Can you imagine all of your audition dreams hinging on ONE picture of your dumbass FACE? (Because even though you and your rep chose three shots from the session, only one is actually good and will be used on the reg.) We have stress dreams the whole week before we shoot because it took us three months of planning and saving to book this shoot and we’re terrified that we’ll get punched in the eye on accident, be bloated in the face, or that we’ll have a hormonal breakout day of. We have to look like our absolute BEST selves because there is only so much airbrushing that can be done in post. And this session cost us a fuckin’ G so we don’t want any frames to go to waste. We better look like a goddamn movie star.
The industry wants you to be nothing like who you actually are in your photos. All of your personality is to go right out the window. Don’t wear jewelry, don’t wear your normal makeup, don’t wear your normal dark nail polish, buy brand new, bland af clothing that you will wear just for the session and then return that isn’t even in your style because the photos need to have LONGEVITY. Okay, but what about my edginess and uniqueness? How will that show through? THROW ON A LEATHER JACKET, BITCH. Unless you are covered head to toe in tattoos and your brand is literally only badass biker chick, you are not to have ANY spice. They want you to look like a Stepford Wife in the sunken place of Pleasantville.
There are ten million photographers to choose from in LA and it gives us major decision fatigue from the endless options. Sometimes our agent or manager will suggest someone (that they are most definitely getting a kickback from) and you just say fuck it and go with that person so you don’t have to think about it. And then when you sit down with your rep to go through the proof sheet they choose the most INSANE options of you that you’ve ever seen. Where your mouth is doing that weird thing that you hate and your eyes look dead but they SWEAR this is what casting is looking for. So you say okay, what the fuck ever, and you upload their whack ass choices onto every casting website available, costing you ten to twenty dollars a pop. TO UPLOAD A PHOTO. Just bleeding actors dry for every fucking thing they can.
And then, when you show people (friends, family, lovers) the new photos, they offer SO much feedback, mostly bad, that you didn’t ask for. But getting feedback from casting directors is way worse. Back in the day when I used to go to casting workshops I had to hear the most ruthless critiques about mine. Some of my favorite comments include:
“You look forty-something in this picture,” one said to me when I was twenty-six.
“This doesn’t convey your energy.”
“This doesn’t look like you.”
“You’re prettier than this.”
“You’re wearing too much makeup in this.”
“I don’t know how to cast this person.”
“Blondes are always put into a certain category that you don’t fit because you’re intelligent and have a deep voice. What if you dyed your hair brown?” – um, WUT?
“I don’t like this.”
LOOK, mother fuckers. It’s just my LITERAL FACE. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!
After you fasted for a week and didn’t have a touch of alcohol, got your highlights redone, actually used the photographer’s hair and makeup person like they suggested, and spent your whole rent to pay for these stupid pictures people still tell you, “these aren’t great.” Okay, BYE.
Fuck it, I give up. I’m just going to sleep my way to the top so I can skip this part.