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Denise Bella Vlasis is President of Tribute Productions Talent Providers, a Burbank California based talent agency specializing in unique acts, like celebrity look alikes. Denise Bella Vlasis is herself a working look alike who bears an uncanny resemblance to the music industry's ultimate icon -- Madonna. She has worked in the entertainment industry since 1985 and has a well-established Madonna act called "A Tribute to Madonna". In this Teen Music special feature she shares some expert advice on how you can build a career out of having a famous-looking face.
you begin to consider the possibilities of working as a celebrity lookalike,
remember: To have the greatest success, you should impersonate someone who is
recognized as a “star” and considered famous in the eyes of Hollywood.
Agents, future clients, directors, and party and event planners request certain
celebrities more frequently than others, and for many events, the celebrity who
is most famous or most recognizable may be the most requested character for
bookings. The exception to this theory is a look-alike talent that is a
dead-ringer. A dead-ringer look-alike is close to identical in their appearance
to the celebrity they are impersonating, and may be hired or requested by agents
solely for their strong resemblance and not necessarily for having a talent. On
the opposite side of the spectrum, an exceptionally talented performer who may
not look like someone “Hollywood famous” or even have a dead-on look to a
celebrity, but has an entertaining and impressive impersonation of a celebrity
may get hired and requested over and over for their great performing abilities.
So you see, there are several kinds of possibilities and certainly avenues for
all people, after they figure out which category best suits their looks and/or
begin your work as a look-alike, you must decide which category is going to best
Dead ringer means you are the spitting image of a celebrity. This means that people constantly mistake you for that celebrity. You need to be objective and really know if your looks are exact. Your height, weight, hair, eye color, body type, measurements, and style should be so close to the celebrity that people actually believe you are the star. If you are, in fact, a dead ringer for a celebrity, you will most likely get hired for your uncanny resemblance. This must mean that you are mistaken for the celebrity daily, and not just once, twice, or three times. Many great look-alikes fit into this category.
They may not have had any performing experience before becoming a celebrity look-alike, but their appearance was so similar to a famous person that, after hearing comments from strangers over and over, they decided to try out the world of look-alike work. Many agents are interested in hiring dead ringer look-alikes, because most people like to hire someone who can pass as the real star. However, looking exactly like a celebrity doesn’t mean that you won’t have to catch up on your performing abilities— you will still need some talent (or at least be willing to work on it) to be hired.
Using the magic of hairstyles, makeup, and costumes, the performer who may be looking for another outlet for his or her creative talents can find work this way. If you think you can recreate the appearance of a fun and entertaining character, then your abilities as a performer can carry you through even if you don’t look exactly like the celebrity who portrayed that character. For example, you may not be the spitting image of Jim Carrey, but if you can do a terrific impersonation of his colorful character from the film Ace Ventura, then with the right hair and makeup you can be an “ace” celebrity lookalike!
Other examples include Austin Powers, Charlie Chaplin’s “Little Hobo, Elvira, and Indiana Jones. There are also stars who can be mimicked because of particular costumes, features, or mannerisms they are known for, such as Groucho Marx, Carmen Miranda, W. C. Fields, and Mae West. Another idea for you to consider is dressing as an animated character. Costume rental shops supply costumes of animated characters from film and television, children’s stories or animation. Be creative and have fun finding a star or character that you can identify with or impersonate well.
If you are already a professional performer and you are looking for extra work in between your other performing jobs, look-alike work is a perfect kind of job to allow you the freedom to do what you love to do, without having to interrupt your other performing work. Since each look-alike job is contracted individually, you can easily negotiate each job as it comes through. Since you are already a polished performer, stepping into the role of a look-alike should come quite naturally. Many great look-alikes are seasoned actors, singers, and dancers first, so when they begin to work as a look-alike performer, with the right costumes and makeup, an instant impersonator is born. After working as a look-alike, most actors and musicians find it to be the perfect job to supplement other work and provide extra income. Not all look-alikes can fit the bill of each kind of look-alike job available.
Mix and mingle requires a talent, and not all stage performing look-alikes have the ability to carry on entertaining conversations with perfect strangers. Some look-alikes perform solely in "Legend" type shows or exclusively on big stages and never work on the corporate circuit as a mix and mingle talent. They may have to wear heavy make up to play the role of their star, and this is not going to carry over when a mix and mingle job requires you to be close and personal with people.
Most look-alikes know their strong points and stick to the kinds of jobs that best feature their natural abilities. It is very important to know how to be realistic with your look. If you are a “fan” of a celebrity, it is best not to become an impersonator. Fans tend to be unrealistic about their own look, the opinion(s) of the celebrity they hope to look like, and in most cases, they are not able to present themselves as professional entertainers.
Once you know who you look like or sound like, or when you have decided what character you can successfully impersonate, it’s time to learn all about your celebrity choice. This means you must study, study, study! Before you attempt to begin working as a look-alike, you must spend however much time it takes studying your celebrity for you to “become” that person. As a professional performer, your study should be a process that never ends.Begin your research by finding movies, videos, documentaries, magazines, books, newspapers, posters—anything that can provide you with valuable information about your star. Look at the face, eyes, mouth, hair, and body. Listen to the voice, speech, accent, laugh, or cry. Search out every identifiable trait associated with that person. What makes you notice and recognize your star immediately when you see him or her? These features are the ones you will need to re-create so that people will immediately recognize you as that star. Find out what you both have in common. Is it a look in your eyes? Your smile? Your body type? The way you move? Whatever it is, you must learn how to exaggerate and emphasize that quality and make it your strength. Determine which quirks and characteristics are most successful in bringing your star to life, and then be rehearsed enough so that you can turn yourself into that person at a moment’s notice.
All celebrities have something about them that helps the public recognize them immediately. Find these trademark features and try them out in front of a mirror, or for a friend, in an acting class, at a costume party, or with other look-alikes. Keep practicing until you feel completely confident that you can recreate that celebrity without even having to think about it. You will know when you find those one or two trademark features, because of the immediate reaction from your audiences.
Begin to pay attention to what type of aura your celebrity conveys, and then try to analyze how you can re-create the very same feeling. The places to practice these expressions are in your eyes, and then in your stance, walk, voice, and overall presence. Practice in front of a mirror, finding the most accurate expressions with your eyes. Find several ways to hold your face, eyelids, eyelashes, looks, and expressions. Play with different looks, and try holding your eyes in several different expressions to match your celebrity. Learn what you need to do to your eyes to make them match your celebrity. If you do not have the same color eyes, you might want to consider using color contacts. If you need to re-shape your eyes, look into makeup application techniques to create new ways to reshape your eye area.
When you speak to people as your character, catch their attention with your eyes. Making eye contact with people and holding their attention with the impact of your eyes will make an impression that most people will not forget.
These faces that are known for having 15 minutes of fame have allowed for the look-alike to also cash in on that 15-minute ride by being a recognizable face to cash in on. There have been ongoing 15-minute look-alikes who were able to jump into the market at just the right moment to create non-stop work for themselves with some amazing results. Feature films, television shows, and news programs have all employed 15-minute look-alikes as well as corporate functions and personal appearances, so if you happen to look like the NEXT 15-minute celebrity, then read on and get ready for the ride of your life (well, at least a 15-minute ride!).
Denise also has a second book to check out called Made you Look (see right) - For more information, click here!
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