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"Think twice before you get that tattoo!" I was told many times. I was also told that I would never get any casting if I had any tattoos. It was very discouraging hearing this from close friends or fellow colleagues. But, they were wrong. My advice is, if you do hear such a thing, ignore their words. Your mission in your acting career is to find where you stand as an individual and what work you are going for. For years I have feared that my tattoos would only get in the way of castings. For a time being, they were. It was just extra work they had to do to cover them up or adjust fittings to cover them up. Then I realized that maybe I was going into work I just wasn't comfortable doing. I needed to find castings that will appreciate my canvas alongside my performance. Although, this was challenging. Auditions rarely ask for talent with existing tattoos, but it never stopped me from being an actor.
My first advice to the talent who is contemplating getting a tattoo is this: before you get a tattoo, know first what type of an actor you wish to become. There are different paths an actor can take. Know what acting career path you see yourself in, such as: musical theater, film, commercial, etc. This doesn't necessarily mean we can't do it all—you can if you want. I, myself, am a film actor. Just know first what characters you would love to play and are willing to embody. It took me years to figure out what characters I felt most comfortable playing. Like most of us, we wanted to play the lead prince charming type. I realize I hated it. I sympathize with more of the bad boy type characters or the delusional villains. I found myself appreciating the capacity of my performance and enjoying the roller-coaster the character I have the honor of embodying. It's just more exciting. So, by figuring out the type of acting you want your career path to go, you will determine how visible you want your tattoo to be. Different departments of acting do have expectations of physical appearance. Film, for me, just has more leg room for physical appearance because they can always use make-up, certain clothing, or effects to cover it up.
Let's say you want to only focus on just being a commercial actor. Commercial acting, by experience, does have a bit of more strict boundaries in whom they hire. Although, I have seen commercials now-a-days with individuals with piercing and tattoos, they are rarely seen or used.
I was fortunate enough to be cast for a short indie, Curbside directed by Andrew Hamed back in my studies at the Academy Of University. Within the casting, for the character Josh, not only were they looking to cast a talent who is able to embody the character, but also someone who has tattoos. I knew this character would be perfect to audition for, because Josh was a bad boy type character and plus I have tattoos. With that, I nailed the audition. This goes back to what characters fit you and what you are willing to play.
As actors and actresses, we shouldn't always rely on one source. What I mean is that, as artists, we too can be full creatives. We do indulge in creating worlds and imagining actions within our characters. So why not create your own material that fits you within that world? I realized that I can't always wait for that opportunity to fall onto my lap, so I'm gearing to create my own short films and feature. Don't get me wrong, I will always be an actor first, and I will always be open to audition for work when given the opportunity. We all have a story we would love to tell and be a part of. So utilize those strengths in storytelling and allow yourself to be part of the world. Some great examples, would be Dwayne Johnson. His films are produced by him, starring him as lead, and because he took the initiative to showcase himself, the industry and viewers are believing in him as an actor. Now, you can see Dwayne Johnson in just about any action film. He hardly ever has to alter his image, cover up his tattoos, or slim down by any means. This is the acting career path he has chosen.
Always appreciate your canvas regardless—even it has been modified or not. You are a unique individual. What you bring to the table should be a new found appreciation to your performance and will be appreciated just with confidence. Don't be discouraged or feel that just 'cause you may not be in someone's standard, you will never land an audition. Encourage yourself to continue to stand out and create a world just for you. There are many possibilities and creative ways to express your work as an actor, it doesn't always have to be mainstream. Stay true to who are, master your craft, and fully understand your career path.