Ever been told “you look just like that person off the telly!? Think you could deal with people gawping at you for hours on end and pestering you for a photo all day? Well, with a new wig, the odd prop and a bit of make-up you could be making big bucks for regular work as a lookalike.
- Step one: Decide who you want to be
- Step two: Get the props
- Step three: Take some photographs
- Step four: Contact the agencies
- Step five: Wait for bookings
- Real lives: Caroline Bernstein
- Want to know more?
Now, obviously this isn’t going to be the ideal job for everyone, because most of us only look like, well, ourselves! However, if you are really keen on the idea, the wonders of modern make-up could transform you into whichever of the rich and famous your heart desires.
If you seriously want to take this up as a part-time job and become a lookalike professionally then you should already have a reasonable idea about who you want to be. To make a decent amount of money you really do need to look very similar to the star in question, otherwise you’ll have trouble getting an agency to sign you up, let alone get bookings.
Also try to bear in mind that unless you’re the spitting image of an A-lister you aren’t going to have a constant stream of bookings and are unlikely to make a full-time wage from this. Only the more popular celebs tend to get regular bookings so think about this too when you embark upon your new freelance career.
A handy little tool for checking which celebs you share similar facial features with is MyHeritage’s online facial recognition tool. Simply upload a forward-facing photo to the site and it’ll pop up with a list of famous people that match your profile. Sometimes it’s way off the mark, but it’s something fun to do while you’re browsing the internet nonetheless!
To get the most authentic look as you possibly can, you’re going to have to kit yourself out with the right costume. Depending on your character, this could mean a fancy wig, stiletto heels or even goofy fake teeth.
You’ll have to study your lookalike very closely to get the outfit and make-up perfect and remember that it’s the most iconic styles that will go down the best with the crowds. Think Madonna in the infamous conical bra or Johnny Depp in full pirate mode. You should be able to pick up most of what you need from your local costume shop. Your best bet is to phone directory enquiries to find one and call and ask if they have what you need. Always try to buy something face-to-face to check that it fits.
Top tip: If you can’t seem to find what you’re looking for, you can’t fail with the wonderful World Wide Web. A site like Escapade is a good place to start and has lots of wigs, accessories and make-up for you to choose from.
Ideally, should you want lots of repeat business and to be taken seriously by the agencies, you should really think about getting some professional photographs taken. To do this you will have to contact a local portrait photographer, you can find one by doing a quick Google search, but we recommend you call a few to get the best quote.
However, professional photographs can be a little pricey so for your first shots you might just want to get hold of a friend who’s a little handy with a camera. Make sure you take plenty of snapshots if you’re choosing this option so you have plenty to choose from. If you don’t have a camera you can pick one up for a reasonable price from Amazon.co.uk. It should have a minimum of 5Mpx to bring out a decent picture and prices range from around £40 upwards.
Before your photoshoot you should study your character and take note of their mannerisms and typical poses because this will be very important in getting work. Try to take the photos in the kind of surroundings your celeb would ordinarily be in for added authenticity.
Depending on where you live, there may be a lookalike agency close by that could help you out. The best way to find out is to do a quick Google search. Also depending on your location, you may be required to travel long distances to events that you are asked to work at, so also consider this when applying to certain agencies.
When applying to an agency, always give them a call first to ask if they have any demand for your particular character. If they do, then find out who the best person to speak to would be and try to deal with them directly. Each agency will have different processes for getting you signed up but all will require your photographs or ‘headshots’ to determine whether or not they would like to interview you. Because of this, you should be prepared to front the postage costs to send them to their offices.
Here are a few national agencies for you to contact to get you started:
- Splitting Images
- Fake Faces
Remember that the more agencies you contact, the more likely you are to get on their books and the more likely you are to get regular work. So call every agency you can to boost your chances of getting booked.
Once you’re signed up to all the agencies you can, you should eventually start to get bookings.
The amount of bookings you do receive can vary to the extremes of once a year to every few days. This will all depend on the demand for your celeb, the quality of your pictures (that’s why it’s always best to go professional where possible) and of course how much you really do look like the star in question!
Getting a booking normally means you’ll be required to turn up at parties and events to entertain the general public or guests. That could simply mean meeting and greeting or depending on your talents, the odd party trick here and there. You may also be required for modelling, TV adverts or just about anything media related. The work can be completely varied so there shouldn’t ever be a dull moment. Just be prepared to get stopped in the street for autographs on your way there!
Whilst working at events, particularly parties and commercial events, it will be really important to have your celeb’s mannerisms down to a tee and if you can do the accent that’s a plus. Remember, the more talents and extras you can offer your clients the more likely you are to get repeat bookings. Pay can range from £100 upwards for a day’s work. This will normally depend on your character and how popular they are, but will also be down to your location. Once you’ve started to get regular work you should get more through word of mouth. Talk to people and hand out business cards.
Carry your business cards all the time. These should have contact details and a few words about what you do. You can get really good free cards at Vistaprint. They’ll do you 250 business cards for nothing and they have other good offers too such as free rubber stamps, cheap marketing materials and even ads for the side of your car!
She says that with wigs and make-up on she has sometimes been mistaken for the real thing. “‘I was doing a PR stunt in central London as Sharon Osbourne with a lookalike who does Ozzie,” she says. “And we stopped traffic. Everyone was taking our photographs and tourists were coming up to us in the street to talk to us thinking we were the real thing.”
Bernstein is also an impressionist so she brings extra skills to her work such as doing the voice for each character and even singing. Other lookalikes increase their saleability by learning the voice or other aspects of the personality they ape.
“There are some really good David Beckham lookalikes,” says Bernstein. “And one of them has learnt some great footballing tricks.”
Try contacting these agencies if you have any questions:
- Splitting Images
- Fake Faces