How many of you struggle with knowing your type?
I recently have worked with a couple of clients who had the goal of getting new representation and before we got into repackaging their marketing materials, creating a target list, and all the necessary prep work that goes into it when I asked what their type casting was – I began to see a theme.
Many actors don’t know what their type is and they leave it up to the industry to decide it for them.
So before we could jump into more of the administrative tasks needed to seek new representation we had to work on knowing their type.
Admittedly so, when I was first introduced to the idea of knowing your type, I immediately would think – my dream role of playing the lead in a feature film.
It wasn’t until I got to LA that I realized real quickly that I had some credit building to do before I would even be considered to be brought in to an audition room for a leading lady role in a feature film.
Have you played this game in one of your acting classes where the teacher has you come and sit in the front of the room so everyone can start staring you down, judging your looks from head to toe and all of a sudden the other students start shouting out “types” they think you would be perfectly cast as?
In two different acting classes now, I’ve had to sit through this uncomfortable put you on the spot exercise and these are the character types that have stuck in my head through the years:
Now there is nothing wrong about playing any of those roles, but I couldn’t help but be shocked and somewhat offended vs. feeling like I got really good feedback.
Um first, bisexual is a sexual preference, not a type. Actors who are bisexual too need to get to know their type for casting.
Prostitute um, neither day was I dressed scantily clad so I couldn’t help but think, “Really that’s what’s coming to your mind vs. a nurse, teacher, the best friend, etc.?”
And lastly drug addict, uh yeah – I couldn’t help but question that one too – as I was the only black student in the class so it was hard not to think was that based on my race?
Needless to say, that exercise is not my preferred way for anyone to get to know what their type casting is. If you want to get another’s opinion, I would ask your family and close friends because they know you best and won’t just start throwing out a bunch of what felt like – stereotypes.
I was not inspired to know my type from those experiences, but it did make me begin to question what it was and as I became more serious about finding representation and getting into the casting rooms, I knew I needed to come to some conclusion.
Don’t feel bad if you don’t know your type, it took me the longest time to figure it out for myself too.
Through the years of building my career in LA, here’s what I have learned and want to pass on to you.
Getting to Know Your Type
Knowing your type gives you power:
You take yourself from up under the mercy of your representation and casting telling you who you are and where you fit in. Remember you ultimately call the shots on your career.
What roles are you comfortable with playing? What roles do you need to say no to?
Knowing your type also gives you direction:
– You will have the ability to map out what type of headshots to take. And there will be no wasting your time and money shooting a professional lawyer shot because all your other actor friends have one when you know you are more of a surfer dude or a blue collar type.
– You can decide what type of scenes to shoot for your reel. For example, if you know you got the nurse game down as a type – you can easily go shoot a Dr. and nurse scene for your reel. Help make casting’s job be easy while giving yourself an easy foot in the door.
Knowing your type gives you confidence:
– When you know your type it helps you to know what you bring to the table when meeting with potential new reps and when having a general meeting with a casting director.
– It puts you on the map with being called in for co-stars and guest-star roles because your headshots, reels, and clips will showcase that.
– CDs also get to feel confident to call you in for a nurse role, mom role, Dr. role, as they have seen you play it before. It can even lead to a direct booking.
More about Getting to Know Your Type
Why “Type” is in the Plural Sense:
We play many roles in life so getting to know your type is more than just saying OK I play mom roles well so I guess that’s what I will get cast as, let’s just hook myself up as a mom all around, marketing and all.
For instance, as I started building a nice amount of credits my type has come out to be the following: hot girl(literally the co-star credit on IMDb reads hot girl number 1), nurse, doctor, mom, legal assistant, and bridesmaid.
Your Type will Vary and Change:
– The industry will also become a guide for you. As your credits build so does the confidence of your reps and casting directors and they will begin to trust that you can handle meatier roles with more than 1 – 5 lines.
I’ve gone from typecasting it out with the sweet and nurturing roles to now going in for the judgy mom and mean girl types. How fun!
– Due to various hairstyles(totally gives you a different look and feel) you may have in your headshots – you will get called in for different types.
Once I started rocking my curls, I got called in more for character roles and began to book costars seemingly easier.
– As you age your type will go from a college student, bestie, legal aid, to lawyer to young mom, mom/dad, to grandma/grandpa. I say embrace it all – if you wanna continue to work.
How to Figure Out Your Type
– When starting to own your type know that your type comes down to your qualities, personality, and essences.
– As you watch TV or the big screen see what small roles excite you and resonate with you and make you think, “I could totally play that to start and build my career.”
So my actor friends, I leave you with this…begin to know and own your type, know how the industry sees you, but never put yourself in a box.
P.S. Ready for your career to start unfolding for you with more ease? Get coached. Book a Flow Session for your own easy – to – follow action plan. Just click here.