I’ve gone through several rounds of headshots. A couple rounds in Chicago. Three previous rounds in LA. This was my fourth in Hollywood. Now that I have a couple shoots under my belt, I knew what I wanted to accomplish. Here’s how I set this round of headshots up for success.
Do you know what colors send focus to your face and your eyes – both in clothes and background? Watch Heidi Dean, Marketing4Actors, interview Jill Kirsh, Hollywood’s Guru of Hue. Blew my mind. Here’s the video:
I purchased Jill’s Swatch Book for Deep Brunettes. Based on your hair color, Jill’s color swatches offer the ideal colors for wardrobe choices to make your face pop in the headshot. The closer the wardrobe color matches the swatch color, the better.
Example – I ordered a burgundy sweater online. I loved the color. When I put Jill’s swatch against it though, it didn’t match. I wanted to know how closely they needed to match, so I sent Jill a direct message via Instagram. Jill asked me to give her a call, so I did.
Jill graciously chatted for 20 minutes (she normally charges a consulting fee). She said the closer the match, the better. She also reviewed my old headshots and offered some tips. She also told me my colors were royal blue, dark blue, forest green, purple, grey, etc. Her insight was invaluable.
I researched actors that look like me and all the aspirational characters I’d like to play to see what color schemes wardrobe selected for their characters. Here’s a sampling of what I found:
Like Jill said, purples and blues. Simple patterns at most.
Armed with potential looks and the correct color scheme, I went into stores like Nordtrom Rack, Target, Kohls, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, etc. and held up Jill’s swatches against each t-shirt, button down and sweater I considered for wardrobe. If it didn’t match, I didn’t buy it. Anything I bought online, I vetted using the swatches.
Rob Mainord took my headshots. My commercial agent recommended him. Before I went into the session, I also sent my agent the looks I planned to shoot. He offered feedback (in bold):
dad/outdoorsy (pattern shirt over t-shirt, beard)
blue collar (grey t-shirt, navy Dickies shirt without name tag, beard)
business professional (suit, shirt, tie, clean shave) also do just shirt & tie shot, sleeves rolled-up
teacher/coach/entrepreneur/IT guy (button up, sweater, glasses, clean shave) Short sleeve shirt.
detective/bad dude (leather jacket, button down, beard) I don’t need this look, for theatrical
Because my agent requested the short sleeve shirt look, I split IT guy and added another look to the session – retail guy/coach in short sleeve polo.
Separately, I researched what type of polos Best Buy and Walmart employees wear and found the same material and purchased them from a corporate apparel provider. I wanted to really make it as easy as possible for the decision maker to see me in that role.
I created character playlists in Spotify and listened to them leading up to the headshot session. Regardless of Rob’s direction, the playlist and its songs were already a part of my characters.
I did more prep work for this headshot than I have for any previous shoot. As a result, I felt extremely prepared. Here are the final looks:
In late 2017, I was in AdlerImprov Acting Studio‘s Pilot Season Prep Class when the very talented actor and studio friend Leonard Roberts said to a fellow classmate, “I loved how you took ownership of the room. ” The word, “ownership” struck me like a lightning bolt and quickly became my theme for 2018.
Ownership for me meant taking a hard look at my personal and professional life and making more decisions about what was serving me and what wasn’t and taking actions to address them. One thing I’ve always struggled with is putting other’s needs in front of my own. This year, I needed to put my oxygen mask on first before I could help anyone else. In practical terms, it meant cutting off projects/PR clients that weren’t serving me and saying no to things that didn’t excite, inspire or motivate me. Taking ownership truly empowered me and I look forward to feeling the ripples in 2019.
To help with accountability, I worked with my good friend and integrative nutritionist Kristina Nikols for six months. Highly recommend!
I had a productive 2018 on many fronts. I felt like I grew a lot and a person and an actor and I have a newfound optimism for 2019.
If you read my post about being in debt, you know I spent the last two years carrying a pretty hefty level of stress as a result of my financial situation. On December 27th, I received my IRS refund for 2017 and immediately paid off the balance on one of my credit cards. I landed three new PR clients at the end of the month, which effectively doubled my income. I should be debt free by February 1, 2019.
I wanted to spend more quality time with quality people. I went to game nights. I attended friend’s shows. I went to last minute pumpkin painting parties and July 4th gatherings. I started doing Figaro Fridays. I went apple picking. I saw Witches of Eastwick and La La Land at the Montalban. I went to the Frogtown Art Walk. I went to a Spam Food fest. I remembered how important it is to fill your soul while pursuing this path.
I wanted to drop weight. When I’m overweight, I feel sluggish and tired all the time. I was 195 pounds at the beginning of the year. Now I’m 183 and counting.
I haven’t gone for a run in four years. A lingering hallux limitus problem kept me on the shelf. A visit to Road Runner Sports in Studio City in late November lead to me purchasing a pair of insoles and a pair of Altra Torin 3.5’s. I’ve been happily running virtually pain free for the past month and change. I’m currently running about 30 minutes a day.
I wanted better sleep. I bought black out curtains, incorporated a seven minute yoga for bed routine, and bought CBD oil. I cut my morning coffee intake from three cups to two. There’s more work to do here, but I’m happy with my progress.
I practiced self care. I hiked a lot. I did space walks to alleviate stress, frustration and anger. I ate healthier. I read a bunch of books about confidence, boundaries, and growth.
I painted my apartment wall Iced Purple and Spring Leaf. Thanks Glidden!
The biggest takeaway from this year is I feel like an artist, not just an actor. I’m much more confident in my process and approach. And I’m less attached to results. I don’t take auditions personally. I walk in the room, give my performance and walk out the door to finish out the rest of my day.
I knew I needed more footage to build my reel, so I submitted for a bunch of Backstage projects. I shot five projects this year. More importantly, I learned how to work with different directors and their personalities, how to make stronger choices, and take adjustments with ease on set.
I continued studying with Ric Murphy (John C. Reilly, Gillian Anderson, Judy Greer, etc.) at the AdlerImprov Acting Studio. Ric is like Gandalf – he knows the right thing to say at the right time to create magic. I also studied with Amie Farrell and Brian Kimmet at the studio, which helped refine my technique and encouraged me to look at scenes with fresh eyes and a new perspective. Eternally grateful for their training.
I took a scene study class with Jeremy O’Keefe and finally crystallized intention and objective in a way I haven’t before.
I got new headshots.
I co-taught the Teen Summer Intensive with Amie Farrell at the AdlerImprov Acting Studio. Teaching is really the best of all worlds. You have to know what’s happening with the script and figure out how to inspire students to unlock their own creativity without telling them how you’d do it. It’s an exercise in patience and problem solving and the results often blow you away. And I got to work with some very talented, very vulnerable and very playful students who continue to inspire me to act and pursue this craft. And the final benefit – I reinforced what I already learned.
I attended eight casting director workshops this year.
I created. I shot Rob’s Garage, a series of quick, behind the scenes videos of a Chicago mechanic in 1997 trying to drum up business with his home video commercials for Instagram. I shot short video inspired by a news item suggesting Chicago accents were the least desirable in America.
2018 was challenging on many levels, but I came out the other end a stronger person. I took ownership of my life and it empowered me in very unexpected ways. I’m proud of what I achieved this year, personally and professionally.
2017 was a bumpy year personally and professionally, but I learned a ton and I’m excited to use my skills to climb another rung on the professional acting ladder in 2018. Here’s a recap:
After three months of waking up completely drained, I decided to buy a new bed. I bought a LEESA and I’m glad I did. For those of you considering whether or not a bed in a box is for you, I can tell you I’m getting deep sleep (lot of vivid dreams) and the LEESA sleeps cooler than a traditional mattress. It’s the one change I’ve made this year that is having the greatest effect on my life.
I spent time processing why I do what I do with a therapist. A couple big takeaways: First, I can only control how I respond to situations. Second, I can’t project expectations on others and get disappointed when they don’t meet those expectations, especially when those expectations were never communicated. Third, I’m learning to set better boundaries. Boundaries, in particular, have been especially helpful in reducing stress and focusing my time and energy on projects that will enrich and excite me. Fourth, I’m listening to my body and doing more self-care. And I learned a lot about myself, which, considering my body is my instrument for acting, has been extremely helpful in learning more about my personal process.
I’ve been studying improvisational acting at AdlerImprov Acting Studio for four years now and it’s transformed my acting. I feel more present and connected with my partner, more comfortable in chaos, and more spontaneous and creative. In the last six months, in particular, I’ve gotten exceptionally good at following a focus and letting it lead me instead of manufacturing or inventing. Ric Murphy, who currently teaches the class on Sunday, has been teaching acting for 40 years and helped create the professional actor program at DePaul University’s Theater School. He has taught some fantastic actors, including John C. Reilly, Judy Greer, Gillian Anderson. Under his and Rob Adler‘s tutelage, I’ve grown quite a bit and am very excited to use my sharpened tools in the New Year.
AdlerImprov Youth Summer Intensive
I co-taught the AdlerImprov Youth Summer Intensive with Amie Farrell. Amie’s a great teacher, coach, and actor, so it was an honor to work with her. I learned a ton about teaching, acting, and directing. First, “kids” have tremendous imaginations and they’ll surprise you with their creativity. Second, I realized how many choices are available in a script after sitting in the director’s chair. Third, I learned what it’s like to collaborate and how to use an actor’s inspiration to feed other takes. Teach if you can. It’s a highly rewarding experience.
After three years of using the same headshots, I needed new ones. I worked with Sage Kirkpatrick at Fresh Look Photography and was extremely pleased with the results.
I am now represented by Stewart Talent Los Angeles. Stewart was founded in Chicago and opened up it’s LA office three years ago. I’m grateful to work with them and hope they’ll take me on theatrically.
I wanted to get back into an improv comedy class and my commercial agent suggested casting directors are always looking for Groundlings or UCB on the resume, so I enrolled in Groundlings Basic. It wasn’t for me. I felt like it was too heady – start with a 10++ emotion, and activity, and get out the who, what, where in the first three lines of dialogue. I’m an Annoyance guy. If you’ve read Mick Napier’s book, Improvise: Scene from the Inside Out, the Annoyance doesn’t believe the “rules of improv” make a good scene. It takes a different approach, one that I prefer.
A couple years ago, a casting director suggested I’d benefit from The Alexander Technique. This year, I explored it for 10 weeks and I’d highly recommend it.
The goal of the technique is to “to develop the ability to avoid unnecessary muscular tension by retraining physical movement reactions.” In layman’s terms – break body habits/tension to improve overall body efficiency. I feel like I benefited in a couple different ways:
I carry myself with more confidence and presence.
I felt my wind pipe open, which means I’m using my voice more effectively and breathing more comfortably.
I learned some simple tips and tricks to use to prepare for auditions.
I’m more efficient. I brush my teeth different. I wash my dishes differently. I walk more efficiently.
AFI Directors & Meisner
Rob Spera puts his AFI directing students through a five-week Meisner crash course to encourage them to write more personal scripts and find their creative voice. To kickstart the crash course, Rob brings in a handful of Meisner trained actors to help with the repetition, emotional preparation and activities. This is the third year in a row I’ve participated in this initiative.
Pilot Season Prep
I took AdlerImprov Acting Studio’s Pilot Season Prep class with veteran working actors Amie Farrell and Brian Kimmet. While I don’t do a ton of theatrical auditions at the moment, I know it’s a valuable skill I’ll need to have as I move to the next run of the ladder. I took the class last year and saw how. I feel more relaxed and composed in the audition itself. I’m making stronger choices based on what the script is telling me. And, most importantly, I’m putting less pressure on myself to “get it right.” The one big takeaway this year is if I’m in the ball park, I’ll get a second take and I can use that take to play even more.
All in all, this year was another solid year of growth and exploration into my creativity, spontaneity, and presence. And I’m better actor for it. Looking forward to applying all my tools in 2018!
October 20th marks three years in LA. Here’s where I am and what I’ve learned:
It’s a process
“It’s a process” is my go to phrase when people ask how it’s going in LA. Process is product. Focus on the process and the results will take care of themselves.
Play the long game
A year and a half ago, I grabbed a beer at a local watering hole, the Ye Rustic Inn, and chatted with a fellow actor who hails from St. Louis. He told me it took him about six or seven years to start feeling like he was getting traction. The more I read about “making it as an actor,” the more I realize it’s a game of constant upleveling and attrition.
There’s always more to do
When I moved to LA, I thought I was a pretty good actor. The reality was I had a good foundation. I needed to improve script analysis and acting with my whole body, not just from the neck up. I’ve been in class since day one and I’ve changed dramatically as an actor.
You have to love it
In those interviews where actors say you have to love acting
Self care is critical
It’s easy to get trapped in the what ifs. That can drain your energy, it means I haven’t been sleeping particularly well. It’s also easy to get trapped in comparing yourself to others. Even keel is the way to go.
Find comfort in chaos
The only constant is change. The only way to survive LA is to accept and embrace chaos and use what routines you can (eating, sleeping, exercising, etc.) to maintain some semblance of normalcy.
There is no magic bullet
There are a lot of companies offering promises on how to take your career to the next level. The longer I’ve been here, the more I realize each person’s path is their own.
Time doesn’t exist
LA is sunny every day. It’s 80 +/- 10 degrees every day. That means I usually end up forgetting that Christmas is right around the corner.
Who do you resemble? Who do you remind people of? If you’ve taken any of the myriad of marketing workshops for actors, you’ve inevitably tried to answer the previous questions. The goal is to narrow down who you resemble in a snapshot so you can communicate it to agents, managers and, ultimately, casting directors, producers and directors, to give them an idea of your character type and a hint of your personality. Small businesses do this all the time using already established brands – the Tiffany of candies, the AirBNB for dogs, the Uber for X. Here are the five actors people say I resemble/remind them of:
5. Justin Timberlake
I was crossing Chicago’s Michigan Ave. to grab a bite for lunch back in 2002 or 2003 when a middle aged gentleman stopped me in the crosswalk and said, “You look just like Justin Timberlake.” I was flattered. A compliment for sure. I’ve always been a fan of JT’s music, even when he was with NSYNC. In fact, I used to take hip hop classes at the Lou Conte Dance Studio and I still recall a routine to JT’s, “Like I Love You.” As an actor, I really enjoyed his performance in Black Snake Moan.
4. Andy Buckley
Casting Director Chris Game said I reminded him of Andy Buckley, who played David Wallace in the US version of The Office. If I had to guess, it’s because I often play the straight man in an absurdist world. Incidentally, having worked in corporate America for more than a decade, the clip below of The Interview rings oh so true.
3. Richard Kind
One of the takeaways from the Lesly Kahn Comedy Intensive is a logline to help casting directors understand the type of character you typically play. Mine is a young Jack Lemmon meets Richard Kind as Chandler. I loved Richard’s guest spots on Scrubs. I have a slight resemblance to Richard, but after watching some video, I think my vocal tone and mannerisms are what cause people to see the resemblance. Interestingly enough, my father and Richard’s father were both in the jewelry business.
When I was in college, my cross country friends told me I needed to watch “Friends” because “You’re Chandler!” During my summer job at the Osco Distribution Center in Elk Grove Village, Pete, a long time veteran who spent most of his day trying to complete the New York Times crossword, said, “I’m going to call you Chandler.” I was at the Network + Interop tradeshow in Atlanta working my client’s booth as a publicist and, after the second day, a gentleman from two booths over came over and said, “I don’t know if anyone has ever told you this, but you remind me of Chandler.” I’ve reminded people of Chandler Bing For a long time. Early on, it was because of my sarcasm, dry sense of humor and, dare I say it, a bit of anger. I’ve always appreciated the resemblance. If Matthew Perry ever needs a younger brother to fill a role, I’m jumping at the opportunity.
Special thanks to Rob Adler and the studio for coming to the conclusion I resemble Jack Lemmon. As a kid, I remember watching Some Like it Hot and absolutely loving it. The last scene, in particular, is Lemmon gold. I love watching his facial expressions as he moves from one tactic to the next to explain why they can’t get married. I love him in Grumpy Old Men. His comedic timing is delicious and, again, his facial expressions speak volumes. In Glengarry Glen Ross, his character is so dynamic – sad, desperate, angry, hopeless. It’s a beautiful performance.
If you watch Alec Baldwin’s second Inside the Actor’s Studio interview (8:22 mark), he talks about working with Lemmon and describing him as “the great reactor.” He said Lemmon would let you affect him. Walter Mathau, in AFI’s Jack Lemmon salute, said, “He allows us to see the tragedy and the comedy of the world through the eyes of someone we know, someone, he hints we may even be, because, in the words of the poet and philosopher Billy Wilder, ‘Most actors can show you one of two things and theye’ve emptied their shelves. Jack Lemmon is Macy’s, and Tiffany’s, and Sears Roebuck, catalogue and all.'”
My name is Rob Lynch. I’m a young Jack Lemmon meets Richard Kind as Chandler.