Wow. It has been an excellent year so far, and we’re just getting started. I’m beyond pleased to announce that I’m the new Senior Editor for DHC Skincare, America. The role makes a lot of sense for me, considering I’ve been obsessed with both natural and Japanese skincare for eons. DHC is absolutely huge in Japan and adored by some of the best beauty bloggers and MUAS in the world.
I’ll be contributing a great deal to the creative side of the brand in America, and overseeing the print content as well. Plus, I’ll be representing the company at events and conferences, so I’ll be part-editor, part-beauty ambassador. So stay tuned for some cool content on that side of things. Thrilled!
As far as content here goes, the modeling/business advice and travel tips for lady globetrotters isn’t going to change one bit. As always, feel free to ask me anything about getting into the business, photographers, visas in Japan, or starting a new life as a #ladyexpat.
Okay 2015… let’s do this!
The role of the actor is to be a professional auditioner. Once you get the job, it’s time to play.
I first met Rowan through Nancy Hayes Casting in San Francisco, where he works in casting as well as teaches classes in commercial auditioning. Any actor who’s worked with Rowan will tell you he’s an eminently likeable guy, with a gift for putting nervous actors at ease. He’s also an amazing performer.
British-born, Rowan is classically trained in Shakespearean theatre from one of the most renowned acting schools in England, The Oxford School of Drama. He’s the real deal and does it all: stage, commercial work, indie films, as well as working behind the scenes with his production company Lucky Dragon. We recently caught up to discuss acting tips, the state of the industry, as well as his current projects, most notably, For Spacious Sky, his breakthrough film that is an official selection of the Tribeca Film Festival.
CP: As a foreign actor in Japan, I know there are challenges to working in a country other than your homeland. Tell me about your experience of coming to America from the UK to act.
RB: Actually American acting culture really embraced me—there are a lot of opportunities for English actors here. One of the biggest challenges was giving myself permission to lose my accent and perform in an American dialect. That was tough at first.
CP: Yeah there’s definitely a balance between keeping your foreign identity and being able to assimilate somewhat to your adopted country. You’ve been working as an actor and in casting in San Francisco for years, and also have your own production company. Can you talk about how Lucky Dragon came to be?
RB: An actor guarantees his own work by creating it. I started Lucky Dragon in 2008 and began producing a series of short films based on Shakespearean sonnets. We’ve done six so far. The first three were just an actor, a director, and a camera. The second three we had a full crew.
CP: Why Shakespearean sonnets?
RB: I love Shakespeare. And the poems, though 400 years old, are still absolutely about what we’re dealing with today: love loss, sexism, jealousy. Creating a work based on three quatrains and a couplet results in a very direct, clear film— very modern.
CP: Tell me about your latest work, For Spacious Sky.
RB: Inspired by actual events and set on Election Day, 2008, against the sweeping landscape of rural America, For Spacious Sky is the story of three lost brothers finding their way back to each other—one from incarceration, one from addiction, and one from discrimination.
CP: And it’s been incredibly well received!
RB: Yeah being invited to Tribeca was pretty exciting.
CP: Yeah it is! I can’t wait to see it. The trailer is so compelling.
RB: Thanks! I’ve been busy with acting too. Tinker is a romantic drama short I co-star in. It’s doing well at the festivals…
BEST SHORT FILM – AUDIENCE AWARD – Big Bear Lake International Film Festival (2013) BEST DRAMATIC SHORT – Manhattan Film Festival (2013) BEST OVERALL FILM – Myrtle Beach International Film Festival (2013)BEST SHORT FILM – Myrtle Beach International Film Festival (2013)
CP: Wow… you are having a year! Do you have any final acting tips for those just starting out?
RB: Create your own opportunities. I was a technophobe actor who became self-taught in full production: adobe creative cloud, sound, camera work. Take control of your career and make it happen.
Learn more about Rowan’s acting classes at Nancy Hayes here. (I recommend– practical lessons in commercial work).
And his filmmaking magic with Lucky Dragon here.
Often during the holidays, things slow down for actors and models. Holiday campaigns were shot months ago and everyone is wrapping up the past year and prepping schedules for the next one. So what do savvy actors and models do with their free time?
They keep hustling. Don’t relax just yet. If you have a few weeks of downtime, here are some things your business needs to keep rolling for the New Year.
- Networking: Social media isn’t just about putting yourself out there, it’s about joining the conversation. Don’t just post- take the time to see what your fellow models and actors are up to, and comment! We’re always looking for feedback. Be positive and engage in the community you’re a part of.
- Workshop: You’re always learning in this business. Improv, photography, audition prep, stage work, scene study: there are so many classes you can check out to grow your toolbox and continue to grow as a creative. Check out your local casting agencies to see what’s going on in your area. Then sign up and go for it!
- Makeovers: How’s your portfolio looking? Does your blog need a clean up? What about your look—is it time for an update? If you’re doing a lot of print modeling, making a drastic change to your look can be tough, but perhaps a revved up hair color or some skin maintenance is just the trick to get things rolling.
Purple wig + spray paint… why not?
- Creative Time: Now is the perfect time to get a little weird. Team up with photographers to experiment with new visual stories. Do a 24 hour film festival. Get together with your video friends and do something interesting for YouTube. Taking some creative play time is essential for staying active in this business… otherwise, it can just become another job. Collaborating on passion projects helps you find new ways of working in your professional life.
- Say Thank You: The days of the cheesy e-cards are long gone. Cool sites like paperless post make sending elegant thank you cards easy and tree-friendly. Saying thanks to your agents, the MUAs and production folks you’ve worked with during the year is a nice touch and reminds people of how fun your are to work with. It’s just a nice thing to do, and not many do it.
Remember to balance that hustle with a little time to do nothing. Read a new book. Try something totally new, just for fun. And spend time with the people who mean the most to you. This business runs in fits and starts, so when you’re crazy busy again, you’ll be glad you took a little time to prep and have some fun.
Break a leg!
So fun. Chatting with Anthony about the ins and outs, dos and don’ts of the Japanese modeling industry was a blast. So far the response has been really positive and the email you guys send is so inspiring! Most of what we cover applies to both Western and Japanese modeling, so wherever you are, keep shooting and get ready for a serious adventure. No two shoots are ever the same, and being a part of a collective creative vision is really exciting. This link takes you to my Modeling in Japan series (below the download) if you’re interested in more, in depth information. Please listen and enjoy!
Kids. In the print world, at some point, you might be on a shoot where you have to work with child models and actors. Some might be pros—little grown-ups who know their marks and how to work a camera, but oftentimes, you’re working with children who have little to no experience. For them, and the whole gig can be pretty scary and tiresome. Poor little rascals.
Working with teens for Playstation
Here are a few thoughts and ideas on working with children. 1) Get to know them ASAP. As soon as you’re able, establish a repoire with the children. There might be a set teacher helping them with homework, but if their all playing games between shoots, try and hang out and have a little fun with them. Developing a fast-friend working relationship helps immensely when it’s time for action.
In-store promotion early in my career. I play the “Wholesome Mom” quite a bit.
2) Spend a little time with the guardian/parent. Stage moms and stage dads will usually chat you up immediately, but if it’s a first time shoot, they might be a little nervous themselves. Be friendly, ask questions, and take a genuine interest in working with their kid(s). It makes any “freak-outs” by the kids much easier to manage when the parent knows you a bit and feels comfortable stepping in and calming things down.
Me and my “kids” for IKEA Japan
3) They’re co-workers, not props! I personally think the key to working with any actor or model on a shoot is respect. By showing respect– that means not directing them, not ignoring them between takes, and being warm and approachable notonly makes the shoot go much smoother, but also demonstrates to them, the parents, and the crew that you’re a consummate professional. Respect on set is SO appreciated by everyone and gets you asked back for future work. Most importantly, it makes the shoot fun!
Thomas and I met on a low budget apparel shoot years ago, and have been digital friends ever since. Keeping up with his career has been super fun, and anyone who subscribes to his Facebook knows how hysterical and magical he can be. He’s a renaissance man: male model, social media producer, Dad, and all around gentleman. We’re time zones apart, but I managed to pin him down for a quick interview for the aspiring male models looking to get started in the business.
So what’s your story—how’d you get into modeling? How long have you been doing it?
Believe it or not, I got dragged to a fashion show at a nightclub a few years ago by some friends. I was standing there, feeling awkward, when a young lady approached me and asked if I’d ever done any modeling before. I was pretty sure she was either trying to rip me off or she was wasted (or both). But she convinced me to take her card and give her a call. I made the call a few days later, went into the agency, was hired and the rest, as they say, is history!
What do you think are the differences (if any) between male and female modeling?
The differences are endless. I would not want to be a woman in this industry. Speaking for myself, I feel like I’m still on the upswing. My marketability is improving (did I just say I’m getting better looking??).
Yeah you did… but it’s cool because it’s totally true.
But for women, especially women in fashion modeling, they’re fighting the clock. That’s not to say there is not a place for women over the age of 30 in modeling, because there is. There is a lot of commercial and lifestyle work for women over 30. But the fashion side of things definitely has a timeline.
No question. I did a little fashion back in the day. It’s a totally different animal.
And, unfortunately, women just aren’t always nice to each other. I know, it’s shocking to hear, but it happens. I’ve never once had anything but a good time working with other men on shoots. There’s never been a cross word between any of us/them. But that’s not always the case with women.
I’m not going to say anything other than you’re right. And it’s not just the female models… female crew can go there as well. Anyway… what are your favorite and least favorite parts about the industry?
My favorite part about the industry is the fun stuff I get to do. Let’s face it, part of is make believe. We’re acting. Dressing up, going different places, getting behind-the-scenes access, it’s all a lot of fun. I’ve met some really fun, great people through all of this. There is always someone to crack a joke with.
I think my least favorite are all of the auditions. You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find the prince, or something like that. They’re sometimes a pain, but I guess that is the price we pay.
As a dude, how do you prep for a go-see? There’s no prep with me. I am what I am, and that’s what the client gets. I read the time/place/wardrobe columns, and that’s about it.
Any tips for guys who want to get into the business (I sound like we’re in the mafia…).
If you want to be a model, then be a model. Start shooting. Find friends who are photographers, stylists, models, hairstylists, makeup artists, etc., and start playing. Have fun with it. Get weird with it. Once you have a solid set of headshots, you can either start submitting to agencies or start pursuing gigs on your own.
Ever have any awkward/bizarre requests on a shoot from another model, a shooter, or a client? Yeah, I’ve shot with a few photographers who have started to cross some lines with me. I don’t have many, but I do have a few! It’s all good. I am completely comfortable saying no.
Clear boundaries are so key.You were playing with photography for a while… are you still doing it? You took some pretty sexy shots (I still want to shoot with you BTW…).
Thank you! I just started screwing around with my iPhone a couple of years ago and figured out that I can make some pretty rad art with it… if I do say so myself. It’s a fun, creative outlet for me. I enjoy being on that side of the ‘camera.’
You’re a social media master. What advice can you give models about creating a social media presence or personal brand?
I’m hardly a master, but thank you. Social media is about one thing ongoing/engaging content. It’s really that simple. You have to be consistent with your postings, blogging, photos, etc., to really see a return on that time investment. If you want to use your social media accounts to try to get new jobs, you have to look at them as living, breathing animals. You must feed them daily!
You are such a sweetheart, thank you.
If you want to learn more about Thomas’ magic… here’s how to get him.
Tokyo is one, giant, ever-changing mood board. The stark contrast between manic and structure, tradition and progress, process and product. It’s a breeding ground for inspiration, which is why so many creative professionals come here to see what’s next.
I did a test with Flanegan Bainon, a Malaysian-born shooter who’s lived in Tokyo the past two years. What started as a student gig for him became a signed contract, which is sadly, about to end. I was lucky enough to shoot with him and makeup mistress Mayfu Oshai last week. No bookings, no deadlines, no lofty expectations. Just a study in light and mood.
His objective: to create balance with harsh lighting.
My objective: to practice subtlety in a range of expression.
Models have to be able to act. And it has to be convincing, so it has to be real emotion in imaginary circumstances. This in many ways is tougher than actual acting because if you’re shooting solo, you have to create this space on your own. There’s no one to bounce off of.
Sometimes photographers will help you along the way, asking you to think of something or pretend something is happening to you. It’s a good tactic, but for this shoot Flanegan and I just chatted. He’s a calm dude, so I couldn’t help but feel present and mellow. What a great test.
Recently I did on on camera job for Gaijin Pot on vintage shopping in Harajuku. It was a solo on-camera spot with VO, so it works a little differently that if you’re co-hosting a spot. You have no one to play off of, and talking into a machine is probably the most unnatural thing you can possibly do. So here are some thoughts on how to prep for an on-camera spot, and a little bit on at home VO work.
The best on-camera (and acting, arguably) is not working it. At all. No cheesy narrator voice, no big, theatrical eye pops or gestures. Directors will always tell you, “Just act like you’re talking to a friend,” because that’s really what most TV VO should feel like. Can you get excited? Yes of course, but it needs to be “fair” and in context. If you’re peeing your pants with glee over a shop that sells pens, not only does it come across fake, but it makes you look like a weirdo. A little personality in banter is always good, just keep it in line with the content.
Where’s your one mark? Your two? Are you talking and walking? Are there two cameras- which do you hit first, and with what part of the script? Are you sitting down while you’re talking and having a camera follow you?(this is a shockingly tough shot). Make sure you know exactly where you’re supposed to be and what part of the script you’re supposed to be at when you hit your marks. Your director will be more than happy to do a dry run to block everything out so everyone knows what the roll will look like. Below is a commercial I did several years ago. Delivering the line while I’m sitting? That took twenty takes alone.
This can be tough if you’re shooting outdoors. In the Harajuku shoot it was bloody HOT out, and my hair wasn’t having it. Your MUA will take photos before you get rolling to make sure you stay relatively consistent throughout the day, but for a quick and dirty shoot like a Tokyo Minute, you really have to keep your face in a mirror and make sure you don’t look like a transformed mongrel three hours later.
You’ll notice what I’m wearing in the Harajuku video– super simple, no bananas jewelry that’ll scratch against mics, no patterns, no white, no black. Hosting is never about the host. It’s about being a guide through the content. My personal brand is very simple, and yours should be too– the days of the “crazy hat lady” or the “cowboy book reviewer” are LONG gone. Audiences are way too sophisticated for that. Yes- you can have personal branding– I know one marketing mastermind who is impeccably dressed and he always wears a pocket square. He rocks it hard and it totally works because it’s refined, distinctive, and cool. Some girls do a cool ring, some girls have a rad beehive… but it has to work with your personal style otherwise it feels contrived. But I digress.
If you want to open up more range for your hosting, check out my article on the VO home studio. This little setup creates fantastic sound and costs almost nothing. I highly recommend it!
So beyond. NYLON Singapore’s editor-in Chief Adele Chan asked me to write about my experience working in Japan and how it differs from modeling in the States. There’s no digital issue available, but here’s a snippet below, and you can pick up a copy at your international news stand like http://www.kinokuniya.co.jp/, or wait until it’s digitized later.
Being a veteran Slasher Girl, I’m feeling super lucky to share what I know and to do the kinds of work I really enjoy. I get a lot of questions about how to get work in Tokyo, so check out the September issue... and as always, feel free to drop me a line!
Since the commercial is now airing across Japan (YAY!), my gag order has been officially lifted. I can now tell you about the amazing shoot I did for IKEA Japan.
First: the audition. It was long. Because most foreign actors and models don’t speak Japanese, I met my booker at Meguro Station so she could translate and make sure I understood direction. As we walked to the studio she filled me in on the details. “Ethnically ambiguous mom with two wild Hapa boys who drive her crazy.”
At any audition, I immediately look to see who else was up for the same role as me. Hardly any, as far as I could tell, but loads of children-mostly boys. I filled out the necessary paperwork and was immediately whisked into a makeup chair for a hair change and touch up- I knew right away this was a big production—MUAs are NEVER at auditions!
Then I was paired with several sets of kids, photographed several group and individual shots- and then- ping pong. With a slipper as the paddle. I’ve been asked to do some weird stuff at castings, but slipper ping pong was a first for me. It was actually pretty fun, if a bit trickier than I expected.
Once I got word that I’d booked the shoot- I was given a very explicit call sheet with all of the deets- and again, met the booker at the location station (hey that rhymes!).
The house we shot in was a studio house, in a studio neighborhood, about ninety minutes from my apartment. A perfect little set street with gorgeous Western homes. When I arrived, I met the crew and the rest of the cast: my two sons. The first order of business was to shoot the photos for the wall- they’d asked me for modeling shots- which I gave them, but in the end they did a separate shoot of me with the boys for verisimilitude.
The shoot was beyond fun- often shoots in the States are pressed for time and there’s a fair bit of stress to get the shot list done quickly- and if there’s a lighting or tech failure- watch out. But this shoot was so mellow, the crew played with the kids (they even had candy and toys for the boys!).
The director later told me that IKEA also did a casting in Los Angeles for this shoot and I was chosen out of the 80+ actresses there, on top of the Tokyo casting, which goes to show you: even if you only see three other actresses or models at a casting here- it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a greater chance of booking. I was beyond lucky to get this job, and am so happy that it’s my first big job here. Such a lucky girl.