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Dressing The Part: Commercial Mom

Hey actors!

We get asked a lot here at the studio about dressing for an audition. So today, we’re gonna talk about it.

First of all, conventional wisdom suggests that you never dress for the role, but rather suggest it. I just wanted to get that out right at the top, in case I lose you. You might get hungry halfway through, go make a sandwich, and then never come back. And then what happens? I can’t have you showing up for your next audition in full medieval garb, look a fool and then later come back whining “Leeann never warned me!”

I warned you. Right at the beginning of the post.

You. Warned. Good. Moving on.

Actors are always eager to find themselves in a role, and costuming is just one part of that. And of course, your outfit is important. Anything that helps you identify with your character isn’t trivial.

Your outfit will not book the role for you. Duh.

It can, however enhance your product and help the client see the finished result more fully. But it will not do the heavy lifting. If you’re nervous, fidgety, un-prepared or lacking basic technique, that will cost you the role.

That said, there are a few good guidelines for dressing to suggest your role. And today, we’re going to talk about one of the more prevailing commercial archetypes: THE COMMERCIAL MOM.

Today’s dressing lesson deals primarily with arguably the most common variation of commercial mom: HERO COMMERCIAL MOM. This mom is relatable, cute without being too glamorous, expressive without being disingenuous and generally has a problem to overcome (enter the product).

In other words, we have a tight rope to walk here.

Obviously there are all kinds of character variations. Frazzled mom. Overbearing mom. Sexy mom, maybe. Score your script and make choices that support the writing. But if there’s no clear character choice written in for you, and you’re just going out for “MOM”, it’s a safe assumption that you fall into the category of HERO COMMERCIAL MOM.

(Cue British accent)

Observe the Hero commercial mother in her natural habitat.

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LAUNDRY. Am I right?

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Cramming stuffing into toy animals is fun for the whole family.

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You get it. Let’s get started.

1) DRESS.

Stick to solid colors or very subtle patterns, with conservative neck lines. Fitted is good. Painted on is not. Keep accessories to a minimum. I’m looking at you, hipsters. I love your chunky bracelets and your vintage leg warmers, but leave ’em at home. This is not the time to express your personality through the international language of fashion. This is the “Disney-channel-acting” of dressing. Make the most relatable choice to the widest audience.

You can also reference the client’s previous marketing for guidelines on their corporate culture and branding.

Here are a few ways different ways I’ve been styled for mom roles in the last year:

Petsmart (Casual / Stay At Home Mom)

Navy blue dress. Nude wedge heels. Easy peasy.

Safeguard (Working mom)

Solid color tank, Gray blazer, black slacks. Sensible heels. Because…MOM.

Target (Yuppy mom)

I had a cardigan over my shoulders, a light blue striped shirt (3/4 sleeves) and khakis. Rocked some keds on my feet.

2) MAKEUP.

Dispense with the hyper-polished, overly stylized mom makeup.

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(This lady isn’t booking the gig. I promise you.)

You want your makeup to look natural, and polished. We shouldn’t really notice it. Invest in HD foundation and powder. (Though if you want to cheap out on the powder, ELF has a really decent one that’s…wait for it…$6)

Mascara is great, especially if you have blonde lashes. (Hand up). If you want to do a false lash, consider the individuals for a more natural look, or a very subtle lash strip. Keep your eyeliner line modest. (This is from a girl who loves dramatic eyes on a daily basis!)

Here’s a screen shot from the Target ad.

Clean. Fresh. Defined. Boom.

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So, there you go! Pop those Lacoste collars, press those khakis and flaunt your commercial mom style. Break a leg, actors!!!

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