Thursday, October 07, 2010

I’m Aware Some Stare at My Hair

That’s the first line of George Carlin’s “Hair Poem”. It applies to every on camera actor, because a big part of casting is appearance. You don’t have to be beautiful, but your look must suit that role and the casting director's and/or client's vision.

My hair very curly and very thick. Wile I often get compliments about my hair, and women with thin or straight hair comment wistfully, there are times when straight hair is preferred for actors. Knowing when those times are is a challenge. On the one hand, you’re supposed to look like your headshots. On the other, you want to suit the character specs as much as possible so auditioners don’t have to stretch to see you in that role.

For example, a national TV commercial sought 3 nuns of varying ages and asked that auditionees look the part. A few were in actual nun’s habits, but most, like me, wore something conservative in black or black and white. Many had short hair. I’d decided on a low ponytail. At the last minute, I took out my contacts and put on glasses. And booked the job. At the shoot, they had me wear the youngest nun’s glasses instead. View the end result here.

A scan of TV channels, whether local or national, shows that no news reporter or anchor has curly hair. (Very few women in commercials do, either...and if they do, chances are they’re young.) So I know that if I’m a reporter in a movie to straighten my hair, which is a time consuming task. It takes around 45 minutes to blow dry straight, then another chunk of time to flatiron it. Even when I do, for a couple of the Batman movies and just this month for Episode 6 of the upcoming Fox TV series Ride Along, the hair stylists either turn my ponytail into a smooth bun and hide my bangs, or they re-flatiron my hair.

I'm one of the only curly-haired women I see at on camera narrator auditions. Would I book more if I went straight? Several years ago one of my talent agents wouldn’t even submit me with curly hair. So I had separate straight hair headshots for her.

Perhaps curly hair looks too wild or messy onscreen, or comes across as unprofessional or too youthful. Yet sometimes they're looking for "something different." So for each audition, I have to think about which way to go.

I'm always on the lookout for products that work best to enhance curly hair and help straighten it. Many sites ( and books ( offer advice for making the most of curly hair.

No comments: