Is it possible to have adult braces as an actor and still get work?
The short answer is, yes. But boy is it difficult.
First off ask yourself this question, when was the last time you saw an adult on TV with braces? And I mean anywhere. On a commercial, a tv series or movie… Remove characters that are playing themselves back in time. You know those “flashback” moments when a character thinks back to their highschool years. And to help the audience believe they’re younger, production adds a horrendous looking mouthful of braces.
Also remove the character Ugly Betty. And thank you to that TV series for helping the world believe that adult braces makes you ugly.
All in all, you never catch an adult character on TV wearing braces. You’ll find the average preteen and teenager wearing braces. And their braces are never addressed or highlighted in anyway. It’s just there and the audience accepts it’s supposed to be there.
One teenage actress that wore her braces well was Meagan Good on the Steve Harvey Show. The girl wore those braces like an accessory! It made me feel like I could do the same.
I didn’t anticipate starting an acting career with a mouthful of wires. I swear I didn’t. But the pandemic caused everyone to dream again about what they really wanted out of life and for me, this was a film career.
To be honest, my smile has always been the biggest set back concerning my dreams of being on TV. When I was younger I would mention to my mom how much I wanted to act on TV and she would say, “And who’s going to pay to get your teeth fixed?” I knew she was right. It’s not often you see actors on TV with crooked smiles.
When I finally got braces it happened very suddenly. I connected with Dream Orthodontics here in Vancouver British Columbia and started the process, not knowing for sure if the procedure would be worth it. But at the time, as a mom of two kids under the age of 5, it was time to prioritize myself for once. Pregnancy had left my smile in worst shape than ever before- it was so crooked I was getting constant headaches.
When I got braces I felt like I was a teenager again. In fact, when I first got them I looked like a teenager. I felt pretty proud of that. I always wanted to be one of those girls in high school with braces on- looking all cute and trendy. Never mind the side glances I got from people that saw me walking down the street with my kids. I know I looked like a kid that got pregnant too young.
Fast forward two and a half years later. The pandemic is still happening and the process of getting my teeth straightened has been delayed because of the lockdowns. Also I have gained forty pounds of quarantine weight. But because I haven’t been out of the house, I haven’t noticed.
So when I took that leap of faith and emailed talent agencies with information on who I was and my acting experience- I thought these agencies would hardly notice my braces because I looked like a teenager after all. But truly all those added pounds of quarantine weight made me look like a mature woman. In fact, I looked like a mom of two kids.
Many agencies responded back to me asking when I would be getting my braces off. I realized this meant they weren’t interested in working with an actress who had a mouthful of braces. There was one agency however that responded with excitement to work with me even in my current state with braces.
This agent explained that I would do well in commercial acting where most productions like to have “real looking” individuals. She believed I would also do well in non-speaking roles. At this point I was holding onto hope that my braces would be off in three months after signing with the agency. But with the delays of my orthodontic appointments during the pandemic, I was told by my orthodontist I had to go another year with braces on.
I thought it wouldn’t be a problem. I mean I’ve always been told I look like a teenager anyway. But this was when I was 40 pounds lighter. So unfortunately braces made getting work difficult.
When I first started out auditioning for commercial jobs, I used two head shots- one taken with my mouth closed and another with my big metal smile. I was uncertain I would get auditions with these photos, but I did. In fact I auditioned bi-weekly. Sometimes I had two commercial auditions in one week.
For seven months I got no jobs. But I’m happy to say the same casting agencies would ask me back to audition for them. This was encouraging because they knew I had braces, but wanted to give me a shot anyway.
Unfortunately I only got a handful of auditions for roles on TV and movies. But some were for pretty big productions on HBO. I didn’t book the jobs, but atleast I got myself out there.
I don’t want braces to hold me back. A mouthful of braces just means I have to work harder at getting my acting skills to shine. To make certain my braces weren’t holding me back from getting seen, I submitted self tapes into a number of acting competitions. These are like singing competitions but actors choose a scene to perform and get graded and critiqued by judges. It’s such a great way to know for sure where I’m at and what I need to work on despite having braces. The best competition for this is called Artist2Artist.
The results of the competitions, I could give to my agent for her to see what casting directors are seeing when I do auditions. My scores weren’t perfect but they were higher than my agent and I expected. Meaning there were times where I was simply being overlooked for having braces. Which is fine! Atleast casting directors are getting to know me as an actor.
There came the day that I finally booked my first commercial job. It was the principal role of a wife and mom. The role description was for a “real” mom- which I was. I imagine despite the braces I looked like a real mom.
While on set the director had moments she told me not to show my teeth. I imagine these were on close ups. There were also times she said to smile and just give her a normal smile with teeth. For some shots I had to converse and others I had to keep my mouth shut. I did what she wanted and tried my best to not overthink the fact that I had braces.
Two months after this shoot I booked a feature role in a film. And this role was written for me after I auditioned for another feature role in said film. It seems the director saw I had braces but wanted me in the film anyway. So they created a character that has no speaking lines. Hey, I’ll take it!
At this point I currently have less than six months left with braces on and I continue to get auditions regularly. I’m determined to keep pushing my way into the film industry despite wearing adult braces and I truly believe that this sets me apart.
I mean I can imagine casting directors thinking, Wow that girl has some guts to audition even with braces on! And then I bet they’ll always remember me as the girl who put herself out there even with braces.
I’m interested to then see in the future what it will be like to let casting directors know, Oh hey, it’s me, I don’t have braces anymore. And then they’ll remember my determination. I don’t believe doors are ever closed to anyone. I believe we just need to know whether to push or pull.
Don’t let your smile limit your acting career. If you’re in the lower mainland area of Vancouver British Columbia get your free consultation at Dream Orthodontics. Go to https://dreamorthodontics.com/ to book now.
Is there something about yourself you feel can be holding you back from accomplishing your dreams? Let us know at email@example.com