At Olympus Mascots, we have blogs covering:
Heck, we even have a blog dedicated to mascot handlers. Despite this wide variety of mascot performer content, we’ve never covered how to recruit a mascot performer in the first place. Finding the right performer to act inside your mascot is crucial to establishing and maintaining your mascot’s identity. Our main goal with this blog is to give you ideas on where to find mascot talent. Hopefully it also provides you with some insight into the qualities of a performer that are necessary to bring your mascot to life!
If you are a school, you have access to a huge pool of mascot performers right under your nose! Students can be fantastic source of talent. Oftentimes the best place to look for students interested in being a mascot performer is a school theater class or drama club. Students in these groups will oftentimes have some acting experience and embrace the role with open arms.
If your school lacks a theater/drama program or if you want to search for talent in all areas of the school, it might be worth holding a school-wide audition. One of our customer stories highlights the mascot story of the West Iron Public School District. West Iron is a small town in the rural woods of Michigan’s upper peninsula. Given the school district’s small student body, they decided to hold a school-wide audition for students to perform in their new Wykon mascot. They announced the audition with posters around the school, as well as mentioning it over the morning and afternoon PA announcements. Heck, the auditions were even mentioned in a student made hype video:
After a few weeks, West Iron had a little over a dozen students registered to audition. These students were sent our How to Perform in Your Mascot Costume from Olympus video to give them some pointers on what the audition’s judges were looking for. After the audition two students were selected as the official performers. These students would trade-off performing, while the other would act as the mascot’s handler.
If you are a small business or non-profit, you likely do not have immediate access to a large talent pool like a school would. However, your local community college or community theatre has several skilled actors/actresses that might be interested. A lot of times they will be open to performing inside gigs for extra experience and cash. This side hustle is an ideal win-win situation; they get some extra income, and you get an experienced performer bringing your mascot character to life!
Believe it or not, there are huge online communities out there full of mascot enthusiasts. Many of these communities have a plethora of people that have experience performing as a mascot and are available for hire. This is an ideal location to look for someone part-time or for a one-time gig. These groups are typically found on Facebook. Search for groups with “Mascot” in the name. You’ll likely find several fan clubs and mascot appreciation pages with hundreds if not thousands of members. Find a community you like and post an ad detailing what you are looking for.
Several mascot training camps can be found across the nation:
These camps can be a great source for finding trained mascot talent. The camp’s administrators may have connections to performers in your area.
During the spring there are tons of high schoolers and college students looking for summer jobs between semesters and with enough practice, anyone can be a mascot performer. Consider posting your mascot performer job on websites like indeed.com and glassdoor.com. In the post, be sure to list your requirements, job duration, location, and pay rate. Interview candidates that are motivated, active, and have a bit of acting experience. Chances are, you’ll find someone excited about the position and grateful to have such a fun and unique role in your organization!
Several people on our mascot manufacturing team started their career in mascots performing at local theme parks and attractions. In addition to learning how to act in a mascot suit, they also learned skills like sewing and molding, which were necessary to do DIY mascot repair work. These are skills that would benefit them greatly in their future career!
Several global organizations and nationwide franchises opt to hire professional mascot performers. These folks are often full-time with the organization/franchise and are working in the suit on an almost daily basis. Oftentimes performers of this caliber have backgrounds in gymnastics, dance, or professional theater. If you expect your mascot to be doing advanced dance routines, ludicrous stunts, or be performing on a daily basis, you’re looking for someone professional. Mascot performers of this quality are typically hired by pro sports teams or businesses with a traveling mascot event team.
Here are some examples of professional mascot performers:
David Hussey – Ronald McDonald (2000-2014)
Back in the day, McDonalds had several dozen mascot performers on call that were certified to appear as Ronald McDonald at restaurants and events. In TV appearances however, they only had one main actor at a time. David Hussey was the main Ronald McDonald performer from 2000-2014. He started acting professionally at age 11 and studied acting at Southern Methodist University.
Kevin Vanderkolk – Milwaukee Bucks’ Bango (2001-2013)
Kevin Vanderkolk was the Milwaukee Bucks’ Bango, from 2001 – 2013. Before Bango, he was Big Red for the Arizona Cardinals. Vanderkolk used his background in gymnastics to perform countless stunts, some of which landed him in the hospital. Despite these injuries, he worked them into the Bango character, leading to some pretty hilarious skits. That’s the kind of performance and dedication you can expect from a full-time pro.
Mascot performers of this caliber can be difficult to find. You are essentially looking for someone akin to a career stuntman or a professional choreographer. Therefore, the best places to find these people are through talent agencies.
If you’re looking for experienced mascot performers but don’t need them to do crazy stunts or dance routines, consider getting in contact with the mascot performer of a local high school or college. Come graduation, that performer may be open to transitioning into performing in your mascot.
The nice thing about a mascot suit is that anyone can be inside them. For day-to-day mascot activities, you may be better off hiring someone with a basic acting background. If you want your mascot to do a cool stunt or dance routine at an event every once and awhile, hire a specialist performer for that event. This will give your normal everyday performer a break, and the crowd will be none the wiser!
Pairing your mascot with the right performer is a crucial step in maintaining both your mascot’s identity and your brand’s identity. Thankfully, there are many different places to find a mascot performer, and options for each level of budget and commitment. Students are a great source of fresh mascot performers, while local community colleges and theaters offer experienced performers looking for side gigs. Online communities and job postings are also great ways to find mascot performers for part-time or one-time gigs. Advanced talent is often found through talent agencies, and many of these performers have backgrounds in stunts, gymnastics, dance, and acting. No matter who you pick, just be sure they can fit in your mascot costume before their first event!