What Makes You Unique

iStock_000026905514_SmallBe yourself; everyone else is already taken

Oscar Wilde


In the HBO documentary Casting By, the late great matriarch of casting, Marion Dougherty says “every actor has a unique quality to bring to the screen.” When I first heard her say this, I paused and thought that it did not make sense.  I thought that this could not apply, for example, to actresses like Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett who are famous chameleons.  But after taking a look at the deeper meaning of what Marion was saying, I realized that she was right and that if more actors understood this, it would help them overcome many of their insecurities and allow them to shine!


Here is what I mean by that; I know how troubling it is for actors to come into my waiting room and see a room full of people who “look just like them.” I know this can cause a lot of anxiety and as most actors tell me, they want to run out of that room as quickly as possible. What I tell my students is that they were born into this world with something unique.  Each of us has a unique gift to give the world that no one else, even someone the same height and hair color who superficially looks like them, has.  No other person can have your unique essence or perspective on the world – think of it like a snowflake, if you will.


Most of the great religions of the world preach a version of this.  For example, in Judaism, it is a duty not a choice to share your unique talents with the world.  What I like about this is that it takes the pressure off our ‘ego’ selves and helps us think about the power of a greater force at work.


(Our) true success is what we offer to our fellow man.


It’s important for actors to turn inward and take the time to look into what makes them unique, instead of worrying about the external – to start looking at things through a different lens.


Here is a tool for re-calibrating and reducing anxiety in situations like the one above:


  • When you enter a casting office and you see people who look like you and you start to feel anxious and your mind starts racing with thoughts like ‘I can’t measure up” or “she is taller and thinner and blonder than I am”, sit and take a deep breath.  Then remind yourself that no one in that room has your exact, unique gift.  No one can take away your essence.


If you are clear as to who you are and what makes you unique then the Casting director will be able to see that too.


We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and we would definitely appreciate a visit to the Cast It Talent website. Stop in and tell us what you think!  Start building your online brand with Cast It Talent as the centerpiece.  #RightActorRightJob

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Joanna Colbert began her career as a casting director in association with Juliet Taylor on Interview with a Vampire for which she conducted a nationwide search resulting in the discovery of Kirsten Dunst. Colbert then went on to work at Universal Pictures as the Manager of Casting and then Senior Vice President of Casting, overseeing such blockbusters as The Mummy series, American Pie, Meet the Parents, and Bruce Almighty. She formed Joanna Colbert Casting in 2001 and Colbert/Mento Casting in 2006. Her credits include: No Strings Attached, the Step-Up series, Cedar Rapids, The Mummy, Everything Must Go, Hollywoodland and The Good Girl. Colbert is currently producing several projects, including a documentary about casting and its influence on film titled Casting By, a feature film titled Atticus Run, The Black Version tv series and Kate McClafferty’s blog, 356 til 30.

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