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What Does it Take to Become a Celebrity Impersonator?

Celebrity impersonators work one of the most interesting and interactive jobs on Earth.  Not only do you have to be able to entertain and draw reactions, but you also have to do it while embodying the behavior and personality of someone you may have never met.  

Whether you’ve always been told you look like a specific celebrity, or you’ve always wanted to give this line of work a try: here’s everything it takes to be an awesome celebrity impersonator.

Your Looks Can Help

To get the elephant out of the room: yes, to some degree, it helps if you look like the person you’re impersonating.  Famous impersonators are almost always known for how close to the originals they look; even Charlie Chaplin lost a look-alike contest because impersonators were able to look more like him than he did.  

Because of this, it helps if you have baseline recognizability.  Thankfully, if you don’t, it’s not the end of the world!  Other things matter and can convince crowds of your success as an impersonator.

Confidence to ‘Become’ the Celebrity

Your confidence matters more than anything else.  If you can bring on the person’s energy and allow people to see the celebrity in you, they’ll be more easily swayed.  This doesn’t mean arguing about it if someone points out that you’re an impersonator, but instead responding in character leads to the next important need.

Flexibility and Creativity

Being creative about your responses when people try to talk to you is one of the best ways to ensure that you’re believable.  Whether you’re going for a camp version of impersonation that’s playing with parody, or you’re trying to play it straightlaced, you have to be ready to answer any question without knowing that the other person is going to ask it: and respond in character.  

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If you don’t know the answer to their question, figure out a way to say you don’t understand in the same way this celebrity might.  A great example of seeing this in action is how Disney character performers in the parks are able to take on the character’s entire personality and life in a convincing way so that kids will always feel like they’re talking to the same snow-white even if they’ve met ten different ones.

Knowledge About Their Life

Having general knowledge about the celebrity’s life can get you far.  This means knowing about any important relationships, how they died (if they have), any public drama that might currently be discussed, and any roles that they’re in.  It can feel like a lot to memorize, but it’s easily learned by spending a couple of hours on their Wikipedia and IMDB pages.

Celebrity Impersonation Is About So Much More Than Looks

Although your looks do matter to some degree, the most important things you need to be a successful impersonator are things that have nothing to do with how you look.  Instead, these items are things you should have naturally, so don’t be afraid to give them a try even if you look nothing like them!

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