Some people regard Impersonators as a joke, and this is something we as artists have to battle every day. Although it does seem like a strange profession to some people, I’d like to shed some light on what it really is. First of all it’s acting, singing and dancing all rolled into one. It’s very much like a Broadway musical where someone portrays a role with great skill. The Impersonator/Tribute Artist should be a skilled or trained singer and actress, and in my case, also a dancer. If you’re not good at it, it’s pretty obvious, but if you are good at it, you get to perform on stages live for hundreds of thousands of people like I have.
Secondly, Impersonating is a business you have to run. It’s an actual full-time job for some, and as a job it’s generally 6 days a week and holidays. Like Broadway we do a live production, but unlike Broadway, we don’t get benefits, sick days or unemployment, costumes, and people to clean them. We run our business as Independent Contractors and pay for our own musical equipment, costumes, make-up and taxes. It is our own business, and as such I have learned how to run a business, something a lot of entertainers leave up to agents. How is that working for ya’? I was once starving in Hollywood, so I know! I think a more do-it-yourself proactive effort is best for an entertainer. This is something I specialize in and offer my advice for in my personal coaching and training. Sign up Here for personal coaching.
As Independent Contractors and unlike Broadway we may work non-stop without days off, because we don’t have understudys. I worked for eight years without a day off. Being an impersonator is a unique talent and considered a Specialty Act, and that makes it difficult act to replace. As an example if you are an Elvis, your show is designed from your abilities, your genre of the character, songs you sound like Elvis in, and your idea of the greatest impact. How you do it is your own. Someone can’t come in and do your act, because you created it or it was created for you. So, if you are an Elvis and need a day off, another Elvis may come in, but he would come in and do his own set, which means the dancers and the band and the lighting would need to be produced for you. Which again, is why we don’t have understudies. It is truly a specialty act, that not just anyone can do.
A professional Impersonator brings their Act to the show. We decide what songs will be in and the producers will tweak it accordingly due to choreography, costuming or new hit they want to do. We are rarely directed telling us how to act, sing or dance. After all a show like Legends with 110 artists would have to know each character inside and out, and that might be something we’ve already been studying for years. The producers of an impersonator show will develop the show around your character so the audience feels like their watching their favorite artist in concert. We rehearse for about a day for the production that goes on around us. Basically, we are staged-in, and sound checked in the last hours before doing a show.
A show like Legends in Concert is responsible for the production that goes on around the set you do. They deal with what props go onstage, the dancing around you, all the special effects lighting and sound and production. The choreography is taught and learned ahead of time if your act calls for it. They make you look good! Reality is you are the only one who people judge. The eyes are always mostly on you, and so is the judgement. After all you are being compared to the real thing. That’s not easy!
As an Impersonator, I do some of the most difficult artists around due to costumes and dancing. My Madonna set includes 7 costume changes in 12 minuets. I have done several of my characters in the biggest shows, I have been able to develop my own sets musically, give them to the producers and let them create something fabulous for me. I have also done my own shows. It’s because I have a lot of experience in the formula for a good set/show. If you are reading this and interested in becoming an impersonator and learning how to start SIGN UP HERE for tutorials and PDF trainings
For getting work, unlike in Hollywood, Impersonators are responsible for getting our own jobs. In Vegas we don’t have a singular agent who represents us, we have many. I’d work once a year if I only had one agent. I have 25 agents in Vegas alone and other ones around the country. Again, it is a specialty act and everyone here in Vegas is a freelance artist. Agents charge what they want to in Vegas and we charge what we want to. There is no 10% or 20% cap on their fee. These agents serve the corporate market, or the high-end parties and weddings. We do utilize managers in Vegas but you don’t need an agent or manager to get into Legends in Concert, but I can tell you it is very hard to get into. It took me 3 years to get in after I’d already been an established Las Vegas headliner. I now train people on how to get into the large stage shows like Legends in Concert. SIGN UP HERE for personal entertainment career coaching.
Impersonators also decide our own pay scale depending on the amount of experience we have, the level of interest in our characters, and how much it costs us to run our business. Some characters have an incredible amount of money to spend on custom costumes, like Michael Jackson, Madonna or Lady Gaga. One of my wigs costs $750, and that’s considered cheap. My Books, Webinars and Subscription offer training and tips on how to develop a character, the ins and outs of performing live onstage, how-to’s DIY promo, makeup, costuming, editing music and videos, and stage fright.
Now that you’re convinced that it is a real job, super fun, and you can run your own business, would you be able to do it? Impersonating as a career can only happen when someone doing it has a likeness to the icon, can act like a star, talk like them, who sings well with the same vocal nuance, and has characteristics to match the artist’s personality. I am challenged every day by this job. It’s not easy to do all these things while singing on stage.
My training had been in dance as a child and acting as a teen, singing didn’t come naturally. To portray someone else is hard. It’s making your real voice sound different. It’s making sure you keep your body in similar shape or do crazy things to appear the same size. It’s working every minute on the stage to stay in character, and most of all to be able to make people believe it for a moment and enjoy your portrayal. I’ve done this four different times with four different characters I’ve developed.
Being an impersonator isn’t something I set out to do it was something I fell into. I’m so thankful I found my niche’. As an actress I was bored, as a dancer there was a lot of competition. As a singer you don’t get paid much and work around the clock all night. Instead, as an Impersonator I sing, dance and act live onstage in a professional show with professionals around me, and get treated like a star would.
As a professional and expert in my field I get the best jobs, and the highest pay for what I do. I also get to be in the best shows. What that means for me is that I have a live band backing me with the music. I also have 10 dancers behind me making me look good. I have incredible lighting, effects and props, and stage hands to assist in making it real for the audience. And I get to appreciate some degree of fame. I get featured on television, on the news, and do radio interviews. I get put up on billboards in the city I perform in. It’s a job that makes people have a good time while watching it, and it’s a job that pays very well. That’s my job! There is so much more to it though. Follow me to know more.
You can live anywhere to be an impersonator, more and more cities feature performers in their casinos and entertainment venues. There are people throwing elaborate parties that cannot afford the real artist, but they can afford you. But the best city for Impersonators seems to be Las Vegas for some reason. Maybe it’s because there are so many entertainment agencies and every casino holds conventions from businesses worldwide that have elaborate parties for their clients and staff. I love my city, Las Vegas. It has been incredible to me. I’ve bought houses and cars and stayed working for my own business since high-school, and I haven’t had to have a real job since! I love my City. I Love my job. It’s a job that lets you travel around the globe with all expenses paid, a job that you are picked up from airports in limos, a job where you do sounds checks, rehearse with dancers and get to rock out on stage with a band. If you want to come to my 2017 Seminar in Las Vegas sign up here.
If you haven’t seen an impersonator show, do so immediately! After the show I always hear, “I didn’t think this show was going to be any good, but it was the best show I’ve ever seen.” The reality is that people love our show and have fun watching the spectacle that is live performance! The show features 5 performers, of different musical genres to please an entire audience. Not everyone loves to see Taylor Swift or Britney, they may like Steven Tyler or Frank Sinatra, it’s a show where you can see it all. You’ll hear the best hits from the best artists all live all the time! Legends in Concert is in a city near you!
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