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Actor's Starter Kit: What do I Need to Prepare for an Audition or Gig?

Throughout my two and a half years of shooting auditions for commercial and TV/Film, I have recognized that being prepared is the most crucial step to booking any type of job. I also have experience shooting with freelance photographers and these essential items have never swayed me in the wrong direction. Whether it's for print, showcasing products and fashion in still images, or hand modeling, capturing the intricate details of jewelry and accessories, I have a vast array of experience that has allowed me to understand the requirements for being on set. With that said, I have curated a starter kit guide listing all your product needs and why they might be important to possess given the opportunities presented in this industry. For your convenience, I will list all the products mentioned in this blog post and link them at the bottom for reference.

Clothing options are great to have because most on-camera opportunities require or ask you to provide your own wardrobe. This is primarily true of jobs outside of garment brands. Within those jobs, producers will typically send you specs for clothing that emphasize the brand, their colors, OR the opposite. But the details are important from a camera perspective, so you want to be prepared for your shoot. Let's start off with undergarments. To every set, I come with seamless nude underwear and a sticky bra, chicken cutlets as I'd like to call them. This allows me to change effortlessly without considering if my undergarments will show through any clothing they provide. As for the men out there, I don't have much insight to what might be preferred but I am more than willing to include it here if you want to reach out.

Most of my clothing options have been purchased throughout the years but I found the best option in NYC is to go to thrifting. A long sleeve white and black button up are great base options. Even your basic form fitted T-shirt looks great and remember to choose a neckline that looks best on you. Most of the commercial shoots I have been on, the producers prefer vibrant colors. I like to visit RFG Family Thrift or Big Reuse here in Brooklyn. It is a day excursion, but worth the time and energy if you know what you want to wear. They both have quality long sleeve button up shirts for both men and women. As another option, I always opt to ask my friends or shop at cheaper retail stores unless it is a piece I plan on wearing myself and keeping in my wardrobe. They ALWAYS ask for solid colors with NO LOGO. Avoid neon colors as they look too harsh on camera. Jeans in light and dark wash, tank tops in basic colors, socks that match your shoes, and a pop of color here and there never hurt. Just reference the specs the producer provides and make sure to bring plenty of options.

Shoes are often casual, since most shots do not capture beyond the waist or knees. All white, no logo sneakers are my go-to. However, if it's an ecommerce shoot requiring you to wear heels or something classy, nude or transparent heels are the way to go. MAKE SURE THEY ARE COMFY! I cannot stress this enough. I once had to stay in heels for 10 hours straight as a background on set in Succession. [Catch me on season 3 ep 7 for like 2 seconds LOL] P.S. a major opportunity to network with other creatives considering the holdings warehouse was full of 200+ background actors. Anyways... these two shoe options are great if you are starting out. As for the men, I'd say nice dressy shoe options while still remaining comfortable are Chelsea boots or Derby sneakers.

Now as a female identifying actor, I try to keep my hair clean and presentable. I bring elastics and hair ties to set as well as hairspray, leave in conditioner, and a hairbrush. These items are needed if you do not have hair and makeup on set. I pack makeup as well. Particularly lip products. My lips stay dry most of the time and the last thing we want to see are cracked lips. Darker colors look better on camera, but light pink is usually what I opt for. Setting powder is also great to bring whether you're male or female. This will help get rid of shine on your face, so it doesn't catch the light in a harsh way and wash you out. Nails are also important, especially for any hand modeling opportunities. Usually, they will provide information on preferred color or length. However, as a base metric, men should always keep their nails trimmed, clean, and professional. Women should keep their nails neutral at a medium length, with either gel or regular polish. And of course, everyone should be free of cuticles. Ladies keep those toes looking cute if you're wearing heels. You don't want any hair, makeup, or nails to become too distracting. This also pertains to jewelry. And when in doubt, just ask!

Now, let's talk about your self-tape setup. All the essentials I mentioned above are great for being on set, but are also just as important to have when shooting auditions at home. Being a full-time actor, I've used the same products with no problem or limitations to what each audition asks for. Here's the full list and the link to each product:

The items listed are all I need to get set up for a self-tape. However, I found other great alternatives if you want to invest in better equipment:

On-Camera Starter Pack

  • Clothes

  • Shoes

  • Hair/Makeup/Jewelry/Nails

  1. Hairbrush, Hair Curler, Hair Dryer

  2. Lips

  3. Nail Kit, Gel Set

  4. Powder

  5. My Favorite Scrunchies

  6. Strong Hair Gel, Conditioning Hair Gel

  7. Hairspray

This is a basic starter kit, and all the products I mentioned are personally what I use today. Feel free to reach out to me if you any questions pertaining to your journey in acting, and/or specifics to your audition/set needs!

xx Esther Hong


Esther Hong Headshot 2.jpeg

New York City bound full-time Actor here to give you insights into the industry, connect with likeminded creatives,

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