Commercial Print Modeling & Acting: “It’s All Good!”

Multiethnic group of smiling people

(DGIwire) – Cultivating talent and taking the time to teach actors the do’s and don’t’s as well as in’s and out’s for a successful career in commercial print modeling and acting means the agent must put a lot of time and energy into a client for basically no immediate financial gain. Finding an agent willing to make such a time and energy investment on an unknown actor is like finding a nugget of gold. Some actors get lucky enough to meet and become more educated in part by a master. A few are exceptionally fortunate when a master commits to nurturing the talent on an ongoing basis. Such a relationship can make a career for a lifetime.

SmilingChuckOne of the rare cultivators in the fast-paced world of commercial print modeling and acting is Charlie Winfield (photo, right) who for more than 20 years has run the commercial print division for kids/teens and adults at Funnyface Today (FFT) in New York City as well as being a legit agent for Film & TV for a number of years in Los Angeles. He brings a unique understanding of the acting profession having started out as a child actor who achieved more than 35 national commercials, while also working on television, film and theatre productions. During this time, Mr. Winfield says he learned plenty as he observed life on the set; witnessed positive and negative dynamics between personalities; and had time to analyze how the combination of these factors ultimately contributed to the actor’s success and longevity, or the rapid disappearance of their work opportunities.

“If an actor is willing to listen, learn the rules, practice versatility, understand their role as an actor and deliver on cue, it’s possible for almost anyone to have a successful commercial career “from womb to tomb,” says Mr. Winfield.

There are lots of modeling opportunities in print, television and internet advertisements as well as editorial placements. These include jobs in categories such as high-fashion; fitness; catalogues; editorial pictures to complete media articles; hands, legs and feet; as well as lifestyle work.

“Marketability” appears to be the secret ingredient for the actor or model’s success—but what does that mean? For commercial work, Mr. Winfield tells those actors and models who are smart enough to listen, “It’s not about YOU: Not about what ‘you’ think, or what ‘you’ want, or how ‘you’ see yourself. It comes down to your versatility, which enhances your marketability, which in turn gives you longevity.” Elaborating, Mr. Winfield explains that, “A successful commercial actor must be an appealing person who can sell their ‘viability factor’ because their role is that of a ‘facilitator’: To facilitate the needs of the client to sell products and services. The “selling” begins with the casting director right through to the advertising agency, the client, the photographer and the end consumer: People do not buy products from someone they don’t find appealing.”

Regarding versatility, Mr. Winfield believes that too many actors have a set image of how they see themselves and consequently they limit their opportunities for greater success. “It’s all good,” he says. “Actors need to stop worrying about whether they look beautiful or handsome in every picture, because nobody is beautiful or handsome all the time. A smart actor helps the casting agent envision them in a role by providing photos that allow these decision-makers to see the person they’re seeking to cast. Examples could be photos wearing glasses, dirty from gardening, curlers, hailing a cab, and/or anything else that is everyday life and less than perfect. Of course having a photo on a comp card in a ball gown or tuxedo is great—but if that’s all the actor is comfortable wearing and sharing, they are self-limiting their opportunities.”

Although Mr. Winfield travels across the country teaching the craft of acting and scouting talent of all ages, submissions to FFT can also be done via their website at fftmodels.com If Mr. Winfield and his team are favorably impressed, they’ll invite talent in for a meeting. (Note: Drop-ins are a major turn-off. Don’t even think about it!) Within the first few minutes of meeting, Winfield makes a decision. What’s he looking for? This: How the actor behaves around others. He knows he can’t attend auditions with his actors—so he’s seeking those that can instantly project themselves favorably in audition circumstances. If he decides to add the actor as talent to his select team, his cultivation begins and never ends — assuming the actor like-wise brings their best, most professional self to the relationship.

According to Mr. Winfield, now is the best time in history to break into commercial work—but everyone should be educating themselves by doing their homework. He advises his clients to study magazines, newspapers, catalogs, and websites. Look at all the pictures accompanying articles. Assess how and why an advertisement draws your attention. Notice the variety of faces. “Stop worrying about the shape of your hips, butt, nose, eyes, teeth, lips, skin color, ethnicity—it’s all good, for commercial work,” says Mr. Winfield. Bring it on!

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