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What Does “Copy” Mean for Actors? (Video Lesson)

You’ve probably heard it before, but what does “Copy” mean for actors?  For a quick clarification, take a look at this video:

There you have it.  “Copy” or “commercial copy” is the written words to be spoken in a commercial.  The commercial copy is written by an Ad Agency for a particular client. Much like a poem, each word on your commercial copy has been worked and re-worked extensively to embed the copy with everything it needs: the product’s name (probably a couple times), the product’s benefits, and perhaps some prices or locations where the product can be bought.

Here are some examples of commercial copy we’ve used in some of our acting classes for teens and children.  These are lines taken from real broadcast commercials:

It’s a good idea to keep as close to the copy as possible. You want to show The Ad Agency, and the many people who had a hand in creating that copy, that you are the one they want to bring those words to vivid life in front of a camera. Impress them and they may ask you to set the copy down, change it up, or even improvise something! In that case, go for it and show them what you can do!

Sometimes words just don’t come out quite as written. That’s okay. Some words or phrases are trickier than others, some sound more natural. Casting directors know that, and industry pros know commercial copy can be famous for twisting tongues. Do your best. If your delivery is solid, you may book it anyway. Ad Agency may even change the copy to make it sound more natural, or you may develop terrific control of your tongue!

If you’re a parent of a young child actor, you might be thinking, “My child doesn’t read. What do I do?”

Child actors who are pre-readers can still learn copy and book jobs. Acting classes for children support pre- and early readers with specific techniques.  Can’t get to an acting school for teens or kids?  Parents can use these same techniques to help their young stars! Check out this link to see a video on how to help your child memorize the lines.  Give it a try.  It’s easier than you might think!

In my commercial acting classes for kids at 3-2-1 Acting school in Los Angeles, my students work with real commercial copy every class. They work with multiple copies, perform on-camera and watch themselves during playback, where they can see their growth. Regular practice with copy and camera helps them walk into every audition feeling confident and prepared. The proof is in their many bookings!

Prepared actors book. Young actors who know how to prepare themselves really stand apart and impress at auditions. Now that you know what’s meant when you hear the word, “copy,” you’ll be more prepared, too!

Scroll for video transcript.

learn how to enter and exit auditions in an on-camera acting class! Click here to schedule your free trial acing class for kids and teens at 3-2-1- Acing Studios.

Hi, I am B.J. Lange. I am an instructor at 3-2-1 Acting Studios in Los Angeles. Today, we are gonna talk about “copy.” What is copy?

What is copy? You hear of copy if you are acting on a commercial set or maybe you’ve heard the term “script.”

[00:00:15]

On a film and TV set you’ll probably hear script. Let me get a copy of my script. On a commercial set, they may say, “Take a look of the copy.” Someone may have made a copy like this, or let’s say you go to work on a TV set,

[00:00:30]

and they say, “Hey, we got new copy for you.” Based on what was yesterday, well, it’s changed, so you now have to learn new copy. Sometimes you might go on a set and you’ve had your copy memorized, your lines, for your commercial copy and then they

[00:00:45]

say, “We’re not gonna use that. We gonna have to improvise. Go without that, so then you don’t have to worry about a copy. But improv’s for another day.

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