This past weekend I attended the Sunburst Convention of Celebrity Tribute Artists in Orlando Florida. Greg & Jackie Thompson are the hosts and producers of this outstanding event that brings together look-alikes, tribute artists and celebrity impersonators from around the world.
Some of you may be asking yourselves: What is the difference between an impersonator, a look-alike and a tribute artist? Aren’t they all the same? Do the terms all mean the same thing or do they all have specific and different meanings?
Let’s admit they all have very similar meanings and they are frequently used interchangeably. It’s been confusing for me and I’ve been working in the business for 14+ years. So to begin my 3-Part Report this week I will define each term for you, with my own description and explanation.
During this 3-part report from the Sunburst Convention, I’ll be including pictures of a few of my impersonator and tribute artist friends. The people who attend Sunburst the very best and it shouldn’t be a problem to recognize their characters. Can you?
Here is my definition/description of an impersonator, look-alike, and tribute artist.
Look-alike: A look-alike (also lookalike or look-a-like) is someone who bears an uncanny resemblance to anther person (typically famous or a celebrity). The look-alike is hired to do photo-ops, walk-arounds, & meet-n-greets. The look-alike relies almost entirely on the physical resemblance and isn’t expected to have an act. They mostly just repeat some famous lines or phrases that mimic and remind others of the character they look like.
Impersonator: An impersonator is exactly like the look-alike in physical resemblance, but more skilled in the use of dialogue and character portrayal. The impersonator frequently brings their own interpretation of the character into the portrayal or act. The impersonator has studied and trained to the degree that what they do is definitely considered an act. Consequently, impersonators command higher fees than look-likes.
Tribute Artists: Tribute artists are the most skilled and highest paid performers. The term tribute artist derives from the original term Tribute Band. Tribute Bands first became popular back when groups began looking and sounding like the Beatles. It evolved into a term called Tribute Acts to include solo singers (i.e. Elvis Impersonators) and bands or groups. Today, the term Tribute Artists has expanded again to include character or celebrity impersonators along with musical acts. Tribute Artists are considered to be professionals and always conduct themselves in the highest ethical manner so both the industry and the brand they are paying tribute is represented in the best manner.
My friend Anne Kissel (Rosanne Barr tribute artist) says, “the impersonators convention is a Halloween Party on crack” … I say it’s a great time to learn from the best and make some new friends who just happen to look (and sound) like someone else.
On Wednesday, in Part 2 of my report from Sunburst 2010, I’ll explain how someone who impersonates another can do so in a genuine and authentic manner. Although I am discussing fellow artists here, the principles of genuineness and authenticity are universal for all of us, including you in your business! Finally on Friday’s Part 3, I’ll explain how both speakers and tribute artists can be Agent Friendly in a Google world. This is all about integrity, and relates to any other relationship in business, be it partnerships, reps, suppliers, etc.
Has anyone has ever told you that you look like someone? Or asked you the question, “Do you know who you look like?” If yes, then the place to learn about the business of Tribute Artistry is the Sunburst Convention or the Celebrity Impersonators Convention!
Next Blog Title: Sunburst 2010 – How to be a Genuine and Authentic Tribute Artist (Part 2 of 3)
Next Blog Date: September 29, 2010