Knowing your type as an actor is absolutely essential. It will set you up for the right parts and increase your booking to audition ratio. There are a lot of acting jobs out there, and as an actor trying to book as much work as possible, you need to spend your time efficiently instead of wasting it on the parts you simply do not fit.
Actors are virtually entrepreneurs, running their own business in this industry. One of the very first rules of entrepreneurship is to find your audience. The success of the business will depend on entrepreneur’s ability to find a circle of consumers interested in the product.
The very similar strategy can and should be applied by actors marketing themselves in the entertainment business. It’s an acting business after all. Actors are products and our audience are the consumers. Only with smart marketing choices can you build a solid following, fast.
For decades, actors have been fighting typecasting, and rightfully so: nobody wants to do the same thing for the rest of their lives. That’s one of the reasons many of you decide to become actors: it’s the variety of jobs and things you get to do on a regular basis.
However, it’s one thing to go against typecasting when you’re an established name within the industry, and a whole different story when you’re trying to get your feet wet in this huge showbiz pool. When you’re just starting out as an actor, in fact you DO want to get typecasted and be known for certain things in the film industry.
Finding out your type as an actor has always being overlooked, but this knowledge is extremely helpful in the beginning of your acting career, and here’s why.
When you know your actor type:
- You can market yourself more effectively, because you know who’s going to be interested;
- You will know how to shoot and sell your headshots;
- You can present yourself more accurately during online submissions;
- You will know exactly what parts to go for and raise your chance of booking them;
- You will not waste your and others’ time by auditioning for something you aren’t fit for.
Benefits of figuring out what type of actor you are apply for any market: stage, film, TV, commercials, corporate and anything else.
Knowing your brand as an actor in the beginning of your acting career will not only get you cast more often, but it will also help you in fighting typecasting later in your career (something that almost every working actor has to go through).
Typecasting: How to Know Your Type as an Actor
Your looks. Understand how to look at your physical appearance objectively and learn everything about yourself; be aware of it. Can you honestly pull off a leading man’s or leading woman’s role, or would you suit better a part of his/her geeky friend?
Judging from the side, do you see yourself a lot in comedy skits or in serious drama? I know you can do both, but for now, you need to pick. Think about any minor detail and what makes you stand out, what makes you that type of a character.
Your age. This should probably go with figuring out your looks and exterior, but I just want to stress how important this part is. In this industry obsessed with looks and age, knowing what you appear like is vital.
First of all, remember that you are as old as you look. If you’re 30, but you can pull off a teenager – good for you! In the acting business, that is how old you are; it’s not about your legal age. So learn how old you look and go for parts that are asking for that particular playing age.
Your traits. Your character, charisma, personality, emotions, individuality, temper and anything else that makes you, you. As we have previously talked in Tips for a Successful Audition, it is very important for actors to be themselves and bring their own personality.
Learn what kind of a person are you:
- Are you funny and witty?
- Are you quirky and awkward?
- Are you very serious and straight?
- Are you shy, silent, neurotic, energetic?
The list goes on and on. Write your own and start working at it.
Determining Your Actor Type
These three aspects mentioned above are major factors in determining your actor type. That’s what the industry cares most about. But figuring out the answers to those questions is a thousand dollar question.
One of the best tips I’ve read in several acting books before talked about going to the airport to start asking people who they think you are or how old do they think you are. It’s an interesting advice, and it can definitely work. Unfortunately, not everybody is going to be comfortable with this approach; plus, this makes it very easy to come in contact with security on location.
It’s always easier to start figuring your actor type in the beginning of your career, when you’re still fresh.
Acting and improv classes and workshops
Improvisation classes will teach you how to be in the moment and play of what you have, and it always results in a lot of attention to your looks and personality.
Acting workshops is another option: playing a vast amount of characters in a short period of time means finding something that you’ll be perfect for.
The best acting classes for this sort of thing would be any with camera in the room: audition classes, commercial classes or scene study classes where a camera is utilized.
Camera never lies, and your acting coach will usually cast you in a part that fits your type. On top of that, some acting teachers start off their new students by introducing them to the class and then asking the group – before anybody got a chance to meet you properly – on what they think your actor type is and what parts you can play. That’s very useful.
Ask friends, relatives and fellow thespians
Another way to go about finding out what type of actor you are is to make a list of questions and go ask your friends, relatives, co-workers, class mates and even acting teachers. Most of these people, however, might be biased, so be aware of that. Try going to various gatherings and parties and talking to strangers you’ve never met.
Ask them the same kind of questions. Request objectivity and accept whatever you get with a smile.
Also, get into a habit of asking this question, particularly when you meet new people. It’s not a big deal, since the question can be quick and simple: “By the way, what parts do you see me playing?” or “How old do you think I am?”
One thing to remember is that whatever answer you get from people around you, and even your own assessment from when you’re in your most “honest” mood, might not be the answer you were looking for. Be aware that what you want isn’t always what you get.
Your actor type could be the complete opposite of what you really are in person, or what you have initially expected it to be. Get enough answers to draw a more concrete conclusion, and embrace your type – whatever it is.