“Terry Farrell is one of a new generation of actors whose career successfully encompasses work in both film and television. She currently stars as Lt. Jadzia Dax in the successful series, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
So declared Terry Farrell’s biography from 1994, which StarTrek.com recently found in our archives, the StarTrek.com Vault. The bio is filled with facts about Farrell’s modeling days and her early acting endeavors, and it takes the reader up through her “current” role on DS9. Finding this relic, an old-school paper bio with a staple in the top left corner, prompted us to recount for fans, how bios play a major role in drumming up publicity for an actress and actor and their latest projects.
Long before the advent of the Internet and even for a time after it, the promotion of shows and movies — and the talent involved in them — started with press kits and/or biographies. If a studio or network was promoting a new show or movie, they’d send journalists, via snail mail, a kit stuffed with press releases, bios and, usually, black and white photos and color slides. Sometimes, the kits — which could be quite elaborately produced — came with an introductory pitch letter explaining the show/movie and offering talent for interviews.
If individual personal publicists were seeking stories about their clients, rather than send a press kit about the show or movie, they’d send a cover letter “pitching” a story on that particular client, an 8×10 photo and a detailed bio. And, sometimes, they’d include previous features about their client for reference. It wasn’t unusual for journalists to receive press kits from the networks/studios and bios from personal publicists around the same time. Likewise, it wasn’t unusual for the bios in the press kits to replicate the information in the personal bio, since it was the personal publicist who wrote the bio and forwarded it to the studio or network for inclusion in the press kit.
And, of course, promotion didn’t stop after a show debuted or a movie opened. If a movie or show proved to be a hit, publicists actively pushed for follow-up stories to keep the momentum going or, in many cases, line up interviews with supporting talent after the initial focus had been on the main stars. Plus, for television shows, a new season meant a new press kit and a fresh publicity push. Likewise, personal publicists kept at it, too, trying to keep their clients front and center year after year. And, not surprisingly, if an actor moved to a new publicist, that publicist pitched his or her client to the media as if it were for the first time.
The game has changed, of course. Now it’s all online. Studios and networks offer journalists a press site to visit, and there they can access releases, bios, art, trailers, clips and more. And personal publicists will simply email their pitch letters and client bios, and either attach additional material as pdf’s or include links to it. And, to be sure, actresses and actresses, in many ways, do their own outreach via their personal sites and social media.
So, that’s what made it exciting to find a relic such as Terry Farrell’s bio from 1994. Words on a piece of paper. A staple. Imagine that.
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