As I understand it, a “type” is to me a combination of the required criteria when casting a role: gender, age range, physicality (e.g. race or the basics: short, tall, thin, heavy, light, dark), role title (e.g. mom, lawyer, cop, spy, teen, criminal), personality trait (quirky, serious, intellectual, sexy, loud innocent). Actors who know their type(s) will know how to market themselves appropriately and therefore give themselves a leg up in audition situations.
How to Figure Out Your Type
Here are some simple objective questions to ask as many people as possible (yourself, your family, your friends, neighors or yes, even strangers). The more data your have, you can begin to sharpen your self-perception and how others perceive you.
- Based on how you look AND sound, what's your age range?
- What sort of roles could you play based on how you look AND sound?
- What ethnic types do you pass for? (Certain roles are geared towards specific ethnicities)
- Based on how you look and sound, what sort of occupations do you look like you might hold? Start with archetypes and then get even more specific with probing questions. E.g. Do I look white collar or blue collar? High end or low end? Understand the difference in the look and feel between e.g. a retail assistant at Gucci versus a retail assistant at Giordano. (High end blue collar Vs. low end blue collar). A lawyer at a high powered law firm vs a clerk in a legal office (High end white collar Vs. low end white collar).
- What unique physical or emotional traits do you have that makes you, you? E.g. character, charisma, personality
- The more objective you are in asking questions, you will see a pattern emerge.
Once you identify that pattern, you can begin to watch movies, TV shows, plays, read scripts, book etc. that help you to hone in on that character type, what their inner and outer motivations are and how you can find ways to immerse yourself in the world of that character type.
Actors are also entrepreneurs. Their work is what generates revenue. The better prepared they are for work (e.g. training, knowing the business, networking etc) the more ready they are to work.
Whilst colorblind and genderblind casting is still something the industry worldwide is coming to terms with, perhaps it might help to understand what “typecasting” is. Then we can figure out how to play to it or subvert it. Actors go through several auditions in a month so why not spend your time efficiently instead of wasting it on the parts you simply do not fit.
Going against typecasting for the sake of it (which usually only works when you are an established name in the industry) is probably not the wisest thing to do when you’re still navigating your way through the entertainment industry. I’d dare say when you’re just starting out, all the more you DO want to be be typecasted and be known for certain things in the entertainment industry.
When you know your actor type you will:
§ Be more effective at marketing yourself.
§ Present yourself more accurately during online submissions;
§ Know exactly what parts to go for and raise your chance of booking them;
§ Avoid wasting your time and others’ time with auditions for parts you are not suitable for.
Of course, you always want to explore the full range of roles that your acting abilities allow you to play. The downside of being limited by a particular type (i.e. casting agents and directors keep putting you in the same few roles) is that you very quickly get tired and unmotivated to play the same roles. Actors in these situations often rely on a bag of finely honed tricks. Preparation for the character deteriorates, and the work ultimately suffers. This is why it is very important for any actor, from all backgrounds, to constantly challenge himself or herself and try other character types.
The Singapore Monologue Slam is a platform for all actors to do just that – challenge themselves. You pick the material you want to work with, and present them to a live audience. Performances like these become a statement for the actor, and an opportunity to expand the actor’s acting range.
With Hope Towards the Future,