Grace Dove had merely one credit in an obscure low-budget film and a recurring role in an action-adventure sports documentary series when she landed the part of the Native American wife of Leonardo DiCaprio’s fur trapper character in “The Revenant.”
This soon-to-be released Western thriller is directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, whose “Birdman” swept the top Oscar categories in March. Once 20th Century Fox begins promoting his new $60 million wintery wilderness blockbuster, it is likely to emerge as a frontrunner in the 2016 Oscar race.
And Ms. Dove — the only woman in the movie’s all-star male cast — may have a shot at landing a major fashion advertising campaign.
In recent years, there has been a growing divide between brands using under-the-radar talent and those loyal to Hollywood’s A-list actors who, for years, have dominated major luxury campaigns and filled ambassador roles. The attractions of less well-known faces seem to be as varied as a conviction that they best represent the brand and a desire for the sense of insider cool conveyed by a front row or ad model whom only the select will recognize.
The mechanics of these agreements — how designers make their casting calls and selections for brand representation — is top secret. But they are always monitoring the film festival circuit and, since the awards season began Sunday with the Governors Awards in Hollywood, they are watching the red carpet, too, and will begin to deluge talent with offers to dress them for premieres and ceremonies.
Casting unknowns can be cost-efficient for everything from advertisements to fashion films, the lavish commercials that are produced with increasing frequency as offshoots of traditional photography campaigns. And while it may be risky, if the brand’s choice proves to be a big hit — it also looks smart.