We have all, at one point, or another considered getting plastic surgery. It might be a small lip filler or rhinoplasty, but trust me, I’m a headshot photographer in Los Angeles, everyone has been there. Especially if you’re trying to build your acting career and to succeed in Hollywood. Did you know that due to the overwhelmingly large number of actors with facial modifications, Chinese acting schools have stopped accepting students who have had plastic surgery done? They say that even the smallest change will affect the actor’s subtle facial expressions.
Last year, while casting for Youth, the famous director Feng Xiaogang said at the premiere that he is okay with other movies having actresses who have gone through plastic surgery, but his films have different standards. In order to show that all the actresses in his film were naturally beautiful, he turned the premiere into a “makeup removal event” by using wipes to clean all the makeup off the actresses’ faces and pinching their noses. Now the question that remains is whether plastic surgery is necessary to succeed in Hollywood or not. As a headshot photographer in Los Angeles, I would like to share my thoughts on this.
The Importance of Looking Realistic
Surgery or no surgery, to succeed in Hollywood, you must be authentic. Whether it’s your agent, your audience, or your headshot photographer, they all want to see something real. In Los Angeles, it’s hard to be authentic when everyone around you is trying to fake embodying a luxurious lifestyle. But I want to highlight the importance of looking realistic.
You know that disappointing feeling when you bite into what you think is a chocolate chip cookie, but you find out it’s really a raisin cookie? That is precisely what agents think when they invite you to an audition, and you end up looking nothing like your headshots.
Your headshots are going to be everywhere. They will be on your website, your marketing material, and it’s what you first give to casting agencies. If you imagine that your career is a web, then your headshots are the nerve center that ties it all together.
Agents go through thousands of headshots a day. You are only going to receive a few seconds to grab their attention; otherwise, your chance is over. Your headshots need to convey your personality, your age, and what type of role you want to play. Don’t be afraid of your flaws, instead embrace them. Agents do not want to see the same, edited, and touched-up pictures all the time.
Before starting your headshot session, try to talk to your photographer and describe who you are and what your goals are. The photographer has experience and will know what to do. My clients from Los Angeles come to me for affordable headshot sessions once every few months. You must always correctly portray your age. So as good as your headshots from 5 years ago look, they will be useless because you don’t look like that anymore. It is also essential to update your headshots if you make any changes in your appearance. I know that this sounds like an expensive process, but you can check out the affordable prices for my headshot sessions in Los Angeles here. I can help you show who you really are and find the role that is right for you.
Los Angeles plastic surgeons reveal that their most requested procedure is facelifts. People think facelifts are the key to maintaining the perfect youthful look forever. Of course, everyone strives for Hollywood success. But, part of that perfection is honesty. Honesty is always of the utmost valued highly in this industry. You must always be authentic; it is almost vital. If you start building a web of lies and appearances early in your career, you will surely not make it. So, do not be afraid to show your age in your headshots and roles. Everyone knows people age and that it is a natural process of life. A few wrinkles will definitely not make your prospects any smaller. Agents that I know always tell me that they’re looking to cast people of all ages.
Think of Meryl Streep. She was 31 when she won her first Oscar as best supporting actress for Kramer vs. Kramer. She continued to age naturally, but that never stopped her as she continued to get nomination after nomination. She won the best lead actress for The Iron Lady at the age of 62. Meryl Streep has never tried to conceal her natural aging process and has become even more loved just for that. She still gets nominated for awards even in her 70s, and her wrinkles haven’t cost her any roles.
And she is not the only example; just look at Betty White. Helen Mirren, who is also a beloved actress in her 70s, never tries to hide her age. When someone asked her about modifying her looks once she said: “It’s ridiculous to pretend we can stay young forever.” If you love what you do and you are good at it, people will feel it from beyond the screen, and your aging won’t matter.
People are usually very egotistical and love seeing parts of themselves on screen. They love relating to any character even if they can fly or read minds. Most actors still portray characters who are real people and should have flaws. People with a big nose who feel insecure about it will love seeing an actor on a big screen with the same big nose.
As much as you don’t want to or don’t expect it, you are still, in part, a role model when you become famous. People look up to you, and you embracing your flaws will not only make you seem authentic but also help people accept and love their own flaws. This is more important if your target audience consists of kids. If the casting directors choose you to play a superhero and have larger than average ears, you are going to change the way other kids look at the kid they tease who also has big ears. You will also help make that kid feel better about themselves and influence their self-confidence positively.
Why Should I Not Get Surgery?
We all know the Hollywood ideal. It is a sharp face with a tiny nose, big lips, high cheekbones, and a small forehead.
We all know the Hollywood ideal. It is a sharp face with a tiny nose, big lips, high cheekbones, and a small forehead. Today everyone is striving to reach this “perfect face”. One surgery leads to another, and suddenly, you look just the same as everyone else stepping into that office. Succeeding in Hollywood is about standing out and making an impression. If an agent is going through thousands of headshots and they all look the same, he won’t glance twice at yours. What is going to stick in their mind is those headshots with distinct characteristics, even if those are traditionally considered flaws. He will remember the actor with the big nose or the actress with a long chin.
Of course, once you’re in the industry, professionals will recognize for your talent and not only your face. But, when you’re starting off, you must take advantage of everything and try your hardest to stand out. As a headshot photographer in Los Angeles, I always take the time to speak to my clients beforehand and find what is unique about them. I help them outline their characteristics in their headshots.
In the world of tabloid and high definition TVs, the public eye has been trained to notice the slight differences in your appearance. Tabloids and bloggers will spend hours analyzing and writing about the before and afters of your surgery. Due to this, your performance will be ignored. You are an actor, and your job is to portray emotion. The audience wants to see what you’re feeling the exact moment you’re feeling it. If you can’t move your forehead when you’re angry, people won’t feel the emotion strongly. And once they don’t feel any emotion, there will be no connection with your character, and you are sure to leave a bad impression on the audience.
Examples from Hollywood
Of course, I could go on forever about good and bad examples from Hollywood about plastic surgery. But, here are the most significant examples where getting or not getting plastic surgery has significantly impacted the actor’s carer and life.
Jennifer Grey and her “Nose Job from Hell”
This was the beloved it-girl who people couldn’t get enough of after her roles in Dirty Dancing and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. She got a nomination for the prestigious Golden Globe Award for best performance by an actress in a motion picture. In the early 1990s, Jennifer Grey made the career-altering decision to get plastic surgery on her nose. She stated that she only wanted a minor change, but what happened was much more dramatic. The alteration of her nose changed her entire face and made her unrecognizable.
She said that she went into the operating room as a celebrity and came out as someone anonymous.
Did it help her to succeed in Hollywood? No. She damaged her whole legacy built through many years of hard work by fixing one thing on her face. No one expected such a minor change to alter her overall look dramatically, but this cost her career.
Whenever anyone mentions Adrien Brody, the first thing that comes to mind aside from his groundbreaking role in “The Pianist” is his nose. His nose is so large that it dwarfs all his other facial features. He has even broken it three times, doing his own stunts in his movies. Some critics even say that it was his nose that landed him his oscar-winning role in “The Pianist”.
When he was starting his career, everybody criticized him for it. Nobody believed he could succeed in Hollywood with such nose. But today, no one can imagine him without his nose. Like it or not, it has become part of his brand, and him embracing it has made him even more likable. The more crooked the nose, the more character in the man 😉
Heidi Montag reached the peak of her popularity during her time on “The Hills.” In 2010 she revealed that she had undergone ten drastic plastic surgeries. All of these were done in one day, including brow lift, chin reduction, and multiple Botox injections. She was 23 at the time of doing them. After doing them, she told everyone that she was perfectly happy with herself. She seemed to be sure it was going to make her succeed in Hollywood.
Now aged 32, she has a very different opinion about her extensive procedures. In an interview from 2016, she states that she was way too young to make these life-changing decisions and did it all due to the pressure. Her husband was with her throughout the entire process. He states that in his opinion, there is no such thing as a ‘minor surgical procedure.’ Any surgical procedure is life altering and should be well thought out.
Heidi even tells that her heart had stopped for a short amount of time during her recovery. Everyone thought she wasn’t going to make it. She also describes how you only see the before and after pictures online. No one ever shows you how devastating the process of recovery is.
“I do not regret many of my enhancements, but plastic surgery is not something that should be glorified. Take it seriously.”Heidi Montag
If you’re insecure about a feature on your face and you think that you must go under the knife, try to find the root of the problem. Do you really hate your chin, or is it due to the pressure or societal stereotypes of the person who succeeds in Hollywood? Usually, it is all in your head. Once you are able to overcome this and embrace your “flaws” it might even help you build your brand as a performer.
If you find that you still need the surgery, then go for it. But be careful and consider all the negatives before you go in. In my professional opinion, as someone who is part of the industry and lives in the center of it all (Los Angeles), I say it is not something that is necessary. I’ve seen many people with distinct and unique features make it big without any alterations. Building a successful acting career in Los Angeles includes many steps, but plastic surgery is not one of them.