Has anyone told you the difference between modeling and acting?

Apple vs orange modeling vs acting comparisonComparing Modeling with Acting is like comparing apples with oranges- they are both fruits, both taste sweet, and both grow on trees. Besides that… they are TOTALLY DIFFERENT!

Likewise, although Actors and Models may appear to have similar characteristics, they actually belong to separate industries.

Just to name a few: The types of projects they work on, the way those projects are marketed, the agents that represent them, the money they make, the promotional materials they use, and the training methods they practice, are quite different.

modeling acting portfolio difference breaking into modelingProfessional models have a modeling portfolio filled with their photos. Professional actors on the other hand, have 2 or 3 signature headshots, a resume, and an acting reel. 

Since it will take a long time to explain all the differences, let’s just focus on one interesting aspect that separates the two:

Inward Vs. Outward Performance Techniques 

Macaron Magnifique Commerical - behind the scenes jun wu top model

Behind the Scenes at a Macaron Commercial

Macaron cookie redA couple of years ago I received an opportunity to work with a brand called Macaron Magnifque. A tasty little treat that’s becoming more popular in the United States, the Macaron cookie is usually eaten with coffee or tea in an upscale cafe.

From this project, I was able to experience how differently models and actors think on set in order to deliver a solid performance.

The concept for the commercial was simple:

Real Macaron Cookies on setEat Macarons and show how much I enjoyed it in front of the camera.

So I got in the chair, got comfortable, took a bite, looked at the camera, and smiled.

Seeing my performance real-time on the monitor, the director told me to vary my actions and try other expressions.

Take two.

Take three.

Take four.

food commercial jun top model eating behind the scenesI could feel he was not getting the performance that he wanted.

What was wrong? I was doing what I did from a previous modeling project and it worked well before. Why was it not working this time?

This was NOT a Modeling Project!

Thinking like a Model…

At this point I was still thinking like a model and realized that a model’s thought process when performing, is usually outward.

They are looking into the camera and opening themselves up for the camera. Some call this “Seducing the Camera” or “Making love to the camera.”


Yes, I laughed when I first heard those phrases too.

This way of working with the camera, is like the project I did for HMDX Burst Speakers.

hmdx commercial modeling behind the scenes with jun top modelIt’s where I picked up the product, looked at the camera, and smiled – expressing outward enthusiasm for myself and the product.

hmdx burst advertisement jun wu

This type of performance is fine for modeling because the photographer is just trying to capture an image, for the advertisement.

However, doing this, and this alone on a commercial television shoot, is not enough.

I had to think like an actor…

Thinking like an Actor…

Receiving some directions from the Director of Photography, I started thinking inward…

Jun receiving directions from director - food commercial

  1. How fun it was to be on set…
  2. How hungry I was becoming…
  3. How great the food tasted in my mouth…

Then Magic happened.

acting in a food commercial Jun Wu top modelEverything faded away and I forgot about all the lights and people around me.

It felt as if I was at home eating my favorite food.

This was what the director wanted for an authentic performance.

If you think about it, it makes sense.

When a model performs on set, it is often the case that he or she acknowledges and recognizes that the camera is there and thus, finds various ways to outwardly communicate with it.

However, when an actor performs on set, it is often the case that he or she completely ignores and forgets the existence of the camera. They are so immersed in their own world that we, as audiences, feel that we are spying on them.

Here is the commercial. You’ll notice that I spend most of my screen time in my own world not paying any attention to the camera.

It’s a simple matter of thinking outward as a model and inward as an actor.

Hope this helps.

More examples coming soon!