Saturday, October 1, 2011

23. What's Your Story?

“The storylines we create around a particular circumstance are far more determinative of success than the circumstance itself. They affect not only our willingness to act, but the quality of our ideas and solutions.” – Jonathan Fields, Uncertainty: Turning Fear & Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance

If I've learned one thing from working in the world of Marketing… Spin is everything. How you spin the story about your product not only determines how successful you will be at selling it, but who buys the product at well. You have to spin your product’s branding image or story to appeal to your target audience.

It's human instinct. We react emotionally to the stories we hear and the stories we tell. And we make choices based on these stories.

As a actor, it’s a tough transition to start to realize that you are also a “brand” and your brand is telling a particular kind of story. 

You are YOU! Yes. But also, when you are hired to perform a role, you are hired because you are YOU and your employers are looking for you to bring to that project the skills and talents that they associate with your brand, those unique YOU skills that only you can bring to the project.

For example...

Imagine you’re having a dinner party (that’s like your show)… and you are at the liquor store choosing a bottle of wine to pair with your meal (the audition). You look at the labels and choose a wine based on many factors…  what food you are serving, your taste, your guest’s tastes, age of the wine, origin of the wine, price, the look of the bottle, what’s popular, what a friend may have recommended, what’s on sale, the one kind you allllways get, etc.… a million different factors come into play to make that decision. But ultimately, you will choose a brand of wine (casting!) that fits the needs of your particular dinner party. Not because the other wines are “bad,” they’re probably great, but you can’t try them all. So the one you chose is going to be the one you trust to be the best fit based your available information about that brand.

So as an actor, it’s important to know who you are and what kind of actor you want to be. That's your brand. What’s your brand all about? What kind of STORY are you spinning in your own head about your brand?

And, more important than what other people think about your story, is what YOU think about your story. Are you even aware of the stories that you are spinning about your life in your own head daily?

You can go to an audition and not get a callback and be like… “Ugh, that casting director hates me. This is my third time auditioning for her and she never calls me in for anything.” Or… you can be like… “Wow, I am so glad I got out of bed today. That casting director actually seemed to have a look of recognition in her eyes when I walked into the room this time. I’m definitely going to follow up with a thank you note for this one, because I’d really like to continue to build a relationship with this casting director. I love the companies she casts for and I think I might be a great fit for some of their up-coming shows.”  

What story are you telling yourself and how does it serve you in feeling successful? Because that story is completely up to you… completely in your control… completely in your own head… and it affects your experience of your own life in a big way.

So, all branding aside, if you’re not happy with the story you are telling yourself… spin it around… reframe it.

“Reframing is a process that asks you to suspend negative storylines, explore if the story you’re telling is the only one and, if not (which is inevitably the case), construct or frame a new storyline that empowers you to experience an uncertain circumstance not as a prime for failure and inaction, but as a signpost for meaning and opportunity.” – Jonathan Fields, Uncertainty: Turning Fear & Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance

And, I think, when you feel great about the story that you are living in your own head… Then naturally the success of your “brand” as an actor will naturally follow.

I want my story to be a rags-to-riches, story of determination, dedication, love and inspiration... a little-California-girl-makes-good-in-big-bad-NYC story! So that’s the story I’m going to tell myself… until it comes true!!!

What’s your story?


P.S. Branding can be a very intimidating/overwhelming subject to approach on you own, so you may want to enlist some help. The best resource I’ve found for assistance in determining your brand is The Savvy Actor. Jodie and Kevin are amazing, super talented, business-smart and have a true passion for helping others. They've got workshops coming up in NY and LA. Check them out. They do good in the world.


  1. My story is kind of like a porno I once saw...

    Naa, just kidding. I love this. Thank you Virginia.

  2. LOL! Ring-a-ding-ding... It's the pizza delivery guy!... Not exactly the kind of story-telling I had in mind, Mr. Fore. Ha! But to each his own. I will not judge... just notice. ;-) Sending you best wishes from NY to Vegas!