Chico State Willie the Wildcat Mascot greeting fans

Choosing a Mascot Performer

Once you have a mascot costume, your next step is to choose a mascot performer. Your mascot design can provide some limitations with whom you can choose as your performer, so it is important to be aware of them. From physical to personality traits, we have outlined some of the key characteristics to look for in a character performer.

1. Mascot Performer Needs to Fit Height Range of Costume

Each mascot costume design has a specified height range. It is important to choose a performer that fits those height guidelines for the costume to fit them properly. If your performer is too tall or too short for the costume, the costume will either not fit or it will be too baggy. Your brand will be better represented if the costume fits your performer well.

2. Performers Need to be Physically Fit

Mascots can appear at events for hours at a time, in hot temperatures, and are not generally given too many breaks. Your performer will need to be able to handle being active for long periods of time amongst sometimes intense conditions. Whether your mascot is performing in 50- or 90-degree weather, it will still be hot inside of your mascot costume, so endurance is a must.

In addition, mascot costumes can add extra pounds to the back or neck of your character performer, so they will need to be capable of carrying the extra weight. If you want your mascot to be super active and intend for tricks or stunts, your performer will need to be able to do those things.

3. Mascot Performers Need to have Animated Personalities

It is no secret that animated activity and high energy is needed for a good mascot performance. As a character performer, the expressions you think you are making tend to be different from what is seen on the outside. Even if the performer thinks they are super animated and energetic, the audience sees only a fraction of that energy. Expressions, movements, and mannerisms need to be exaggerated while in the costume to get the full effect. Practicing in a mirror will help the performer understand how animated they need to be and will help them understand how much movement is needed.

At appearances, your mascot will be engaging with lots of people, so your performer will need to have a friendly personality. Your mascot will also need to enjoy interacting with people of all ages and must be able to read the crowd.

Now this might seem rather obvious, but you need to make sure that your performer enjoys performing and interacting with a crowd. If your performer doesn't find it enjoyable and doesn't take the job seriously, the audience will know, so find someone who’s excited to be in costume.

MASCOT TIP: If you want your mascot to have a certain personality, create a mascot handbook for your performer outlining the traits and behaviors of your mascot.

4. It's Best to Choose Either Male or Female Performers

If you need multiple mascot performers, it is wise to get performers of all the same gender. Males and females have different mannerisms, so if you want your mascot to carry a consistent persona, having all male performers or all female performers per mascot costume can help with that.

5. Hold Tryouts for Potential Mascot Performers

Tryouts are important to see how people bring your character to life. Anyone can say they are animated or can dance or act, but tryouts will put them to the test. You will also be able to compare the performers and see who conveys your mascot character the best.

During the tryout, you will also want to test for improvisational skills. Many different things can go wrong during a mascot performance, so your performer must adapt and handle situations on the spot.

MASCOT TIP: Develop a personality for your mascot before the tryouts so you can refer to it throughout.

6. Make Sure your Performer is Available & Consistent

Make sure the performers you choose will be available for all the events you plan to have your mascot attend. If you plan to have your mascot extremely involved in the community, you should probably consider having a back-up or two.

Having your mascot performer(s) in the costume on a consistent basis will allow them to get used to making the movements and gestures that bring the character to life. In addition, they will learn how to adapt to different situations and crowds that they will experience.

MASCOT TIP: While looking for a performer, make sure you also have a mascot escort to be with your performer at events. The mascot escort will keep your mascot safe by dealing with the audience, helping them walk, carrying giveaway items, giving them breaks, taking pictures, etc.

It can sometimes be difficult to find a mascot performer that meets all these qualifications. You may have to make some compromises, and decide what qualities are most important for your mascot and mascot performer.

After you have chosen your performer, have them watch this instructional video on how to perform in a mascot costume. It will give some tips on how to show certain emotions and the dos and don'ts of performing as a mascot character.

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