Are You Wearing the Perfect Colors … For Somebody Else?

Are You Wearing the Perfect Colors … For Somebody Else?

By Jill Kirsh

I was thrilled to be able to write something for ActorRated because there is so much I want to share with actors about what I do. I am an actor. I am also a color consultant. Because of my background as an actor, I have taken what I know as a color coach heavily into the industry and have worked with hundreds of performers over the years–from the celebs that walk the red carpet to the guy and the gal who just arrived in LA to start on their adventure!

The truth is every actor needs to know the shades of color that will pull the focus to their eyes in a headshot and will make them pop on camera. Knowing “your colors” should be part of Acting 101 (or at least Marketing Yourself 101). The thing that’s so cool about working with actors (in contrast to working with my clients who just want to know how to look great all the time) is that actors can use color as a tool to extend a character–to look older, ditsy, nerdy, dying and down on their luck. It’s a way to causatively look bad versus spending hundreds of dollars on new headshots and not being happy with the results–thinking that you look washed out and dull and that your background pulls the focus away from your face and you just don’t know why it all isn’t working. Everything in a color headshot grabs attention and the attention should be on your face and in your eyes. You get the idea.

I’ve worked with many photographers here in LA and one for one they’ve said that when an actor brings wardrobe to the shoot in shades of color that work for them, their job as a photographer is so much easier. They don’t need to spend extra time trying to compensate with lighting and more makeup to fix something that just isn’t working. Without getting into a dissertation on headshots, I’ve found that so many actors truly minimize themselves in their shots by not using colors that work for them in wardrobe, makeup, and for their background. Knowing your colors gives you the edge to maximizing the potential of being a really happy camper when you see your proofs (and we all so love that feeling)!

Okay, I want to give you some tips. First off, everyone can wear most every color–it just depends on finding the right shade of the color that works for you. If you’re a redhead or have golden browns tresses (think Julia Roberts, Amy Adams) pale grey is just about one of your worst colors and teal blue, brick red, and forest green are some of your best. However, if your hair is ash blonde or grey (Helen Mirren) pale grey can be a great neutral to incorporate into your wardrobe along with dusty rose, lavender, and taupe. If you have dark brown or black hair (Courteney Cox) cobalt blue and fuchsia are fantastic but camel and olive green, not so much. If you’re a warm blonde (Kate Hudson), turquoise and peachy tones are fabulous, but leave the mint green and burgundy for someone else.

It’s not about the shade that is “in” this month or the color that your first date in junior high said you should wear because it was their favorite color! It’s all about discovering what works with your individual coloring.

The color of one’s hair plays a huge part in all of this. Your hair (be it natural or “enhanced”) is what frames your face, frames the picture, and you need to know how to work it. I have clients that spend lots of money on highlights, lowlights, etc., but if the colors they’re wearing and the makeup shades they’ve chosen are wrong for them, their hair can look brassy and everything looks fragmented. It’s like their hair doesn’t work with their shirt that doesn’t work with the eye shadow and the lipstick walked into the room before they arrived! There are just too many distractions.

When an actor (or anyone for that matter) walks into a room, they want to be present. The ideal scene is what one is wearing brings out their makeup, brings out their hair (or for the guys, the shirt and tie they’ve chosen to wear to read for that legal drama pulls the focus up into their eyes). If you can see it in terms of arrows pointing in a direction, all the arrows should be pointing up.

When you’ve got it all “in sync” the message you’re communicating just rides on that wave. The viewer doesn’t have to get thru something to get you. The cool thing here is that if you’re making a character choice to causatively create a distraction, you’ll know exactly how to do it. If you’re working on your reel and are doing low-budget or no-budget projects (no money for wardrobe, hair, makeup) knowing your colors is a huge asset. You’re your own stylist and knowing how to pull it altogether is invaluable.

There’s just so much to share with actors about what I do and how incorporating this concept into your life can have a major impact on creating your personal brand – from your headshots to every aspect of your website. That’s one of the reasons I just launched the, to be able to reach actors from all over the world. Having your colors and makeup done in a one-on-one session or discovering your best shades of color online is fun, empowering, and provides actors with a go-to technique that enables them to present the exact image they want to communicate all the time.

Jill’s unique color system has been the talk of the fashion world for the past five years. She’s been featured several times in InStyle Magazine, RedBook, The Los Angeles Times and on every major network and numerous local news affiliates including HGTV, Hallmark and Soapnet, plus myriad websites like AOL, BeautyRiot, Shopafrolic and more. In addition, is featured in Judy Kerr’s book Acting Is Everything and was named Best Color Consultant in the Best of LA issue of Los Angeles Magazine. She currently appears as the Color Expert on the IPad App for the hit movie Divergent.

She is frequently called upon by celebrities and titans of business for color coaching, and is a popular color commentator on television and radio—especially around awards season. You might have seen her in your favorite department store or chain retailer, giving out savvy color tips to customers on special promotion days.



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