How To Respond To “So…Tell Me About Yourself.”
How many times have you heard that phrase, from a casting director?
Or an agent?
Or a manager?
Or a producer?
Or a session runner?
Or a director?
And have you been lost for words, or blurted out something trite, or mumbled something incomprehensible?
Fear not. I’ve got exactly what to say for you right here.
I get this a lot. I meet a lot of people, network like a pro, am at ease with general meetings, auditions, call backs and chemistry reads.
But, I’ll admit, that “so…tell me about yourself” thing was often a show stopper.
I’ve learned some tried and true lessons about what to say there.
(There’s a great article that is a more generalized version of what I’m about to tell you, with a couple of other options and tips, by Ashley Stahl, writing for The Muse, here.)
It actually couldn’t be more simple: start with an elevator pitch, and ice the cake with a very short story.
The elevator pitch is a short sentence that sums up the core of your brand. (It’s called an elevator pitch because you’re supposed to be able to say it easily in the time it takes to go up one floor on an elevator.)
And I know that your first inclination as a voice talent/actor is to say “Not possible. My brand is so complex, it would take 5 or 10 sentences to get across!” Get over yourself, and create a sentence that gets to the core. Show them other shades after you get the gig.
If you need help coming up with the right words to say for your elevator pitch, take the time, and set aside the money, to take Sam Christensen’s Personal Brand Workshop. It’s AWESOME.)
The very short story illustrates your approach, your acting, your voice, your on-set demeanor, your accomplishments, and/or why they’d want to hire you, represent you, manage you, or cast you. Come up with no more than three sentences that
Don’t talk about your MFA, or your childhood home, or your religious/political/sexuality views. You want to spend these very precious moments connecting with your partner in a way that helps them see you as an asset, someone who can help them solve a problem, and that you’re not a problem yourself.
Here’s how I answer that:
“Well, I’m kind of like Paul Giamatti meets Uncle Fester – you know, creepy, evil villain with a huggable side. I was sort of handed that brand on my very first paid acting gig, on Heroes. That job was only supposed to last one episode. We had such a great time that first day on set, that they re-wrote my ending and kept me alive for the rest of the next three seasons. It was great!”
See if you can identify the elevator pitch and the very short story. And in the comments below, give me what you might say that follows this pattern.
Once you get good at this, resist the temptation to do it differently every time. These are lines to rehearse, and get to know well.
So you can deliver them with ease, grace and confidence, and book the room/gig/representation more often.
Hope this helps.
During a 5 year stretch in radio, as an announcer, I was introduced to the fun and creative world of voice overs. I started recording in-house commercials for our local clients, such as night clubs, car dealerships, supermarkets and tattoo parlors.(what kind of a Rock station would we be if we didn’t have a tattoo parlor running commercials) I was hooked!
Those radio days may be long gone, but my love affair with Voice Overs lives on.
I’m spunky and sweet like Sandra Bullock with side of kick-ass and curly hair. Tomboy turned Mother who likes taking her kids to Karate class as much as she likes doing Karate herself. When I was working on a short movie project with improvisors the director kept saying how impressed she was with all the character work I did ahead of time. I enjoy doing all the preparation so I can do my best and support the other actors. Probably the most fun I ever had was working on a stage scene where I got to be an unlikely spy and do my own fight sequence. I like surprising people.
Great advice, David! I’ll have to give this some thought – I ALWAYS tend to be too wordy! Getting that one sentence description just right will take some work, but I can definitely see the need for it!
Thanks for this valuable information!! So So LOVE IT!!!!!
LOVE Sam Christensen’s stuff!
I first heard Sam on a podcast a few years ago. I was so impressed that when I got home I told my boyfriend that even if it meant me saving up & flying to LA to do his workshop, one day I would do it!
So I was really chuffed when earlier this year I found out he was coming to the UK…
I’ve been to his preview evening and will be attending his workshop when he comes back in September.
Travelling to and staying in London (I live near Manchester) will be expensive – though marginally cheaper than flying to LA. LOL
I know it will be worth every penny though…
I recently had my first TV gig with a 3-line role and while I’m more than happy to do that kind of thing as I learn the ropes and get more well known with CDs, I want to make sure that I don’t get stuck there.
I’m sure after the workshop this will improve, for now though, this is how I would answer the question:
“I’m warm and friendly, with a spine of steel. Think Julia Roberts meets Glen Close.
I recently did a supporting role in an indie feature where my character had to find her daughter dead.
When I first read the script I had a way out there idea for something I felt the mother would do. When I shared it with the director she loved it and we did it that way…
She might have hated it and that would’ve been fine too – I can’t stand by and keep inside something that feels truthful for the character and that could make the project more interesting and compelling to watch.
Great words here – thanks, as always!
Excellent advice. Especially the part about knowing your story. Should be able to tell it like a joke you’ve told a thousand times…but you still get a bang out of telling it.
Great timing for this tip. Thanks for sharing, David!
Great article! I’m going to work on this…
Awesome advice! I’m taking it to the bank! One question: you mentioned to follow it with a short story—got an example?
Thanks for all you give, David!
It’s in the post.