Although getting type-cast is frustrating, it is also frustrating going to auditions and never getting booked. By embracing their type, actors can spend their time wisely at auditions and get noticed faster.
The first step is identifying your type.
Once you have your type more or less pinned down, you can attend the right auditions and have a better understanding of how you are perceived at auditions. With that knowledge, you can have more control over your choices and feel confident that you are the right person for the job.
There are so many character types, but looking at lists such as Wikipedia’s list of stock characters can help you whittle your options down to the right age group and work from there. Remember that your age group is the age that you can portray or appear, not your actual age. When you are selecting characters from this list, try to avoid picking only characters that you want to be. Instead, be really honest with yourself and pick characters that you know you are a good fit for even if you don’t particularly enjoy playing these roles. Consider your body type, facial features, hair color, vocal range, etc.
Be public about your journey to discover your type.
Get help! Print out a list of character types that fit your age group and ask friends, family, and mentors to circle the types that give an honest “first impression” of you. Do yourself a favor and don’t ask anyone who will give you a biased opinion or be overly flattering to make you feel good; those responses won’t help you at auditions.
Better yet, make a day of it and go to a public place such as a library with a friend and bring many copies of your character list printout along with pens. Getting true “first impressions” from strangers will give you a perspective your friends and family cannot. Bring some busywork with you and keep yourself occupied. Meanwhile, have your friend politely point you out to strangers, quickly tell them what you both are trying to achieve, and ask them to briefly circle their immediate impression of you from across the room. By having them fill it out from afar, you are allowing them to make a pressure free, anonymous, and honest judgement, as opposed to filling it out right in front of you.
If you’d rather do it on your own, but want to get a stranger’s opinion, try using online surveys! There are many survey sites that will let you create free surveys, but Toluna is a great resource primarily because Toluna rewards it’s users for taking surveys regularly. So creating a poll on their site will pull enough traffic to get some relevant results.
- To do so, we recommend doing the following:
- Create a free account with Toluna, at https://us.toluna.com/
- Click on the blue “Create” button in the top right corner
- Click on “Poll”
- Upload a headshot of yourself in the top line. Make sure to use a photo that best reflects the “look” you usually have at auditions.
- In the “Share with the community” line, write “My first impression of this person is…” or “This person would most likely portray a…”
- Underneath, fill each opening with character types (ie: Bad Boy, American All-Star, Girl Next Door, Soccer Mom, etc.)
- For Category below, select “Lifestyle” or “Other”
- Select “Multiple” at the bottom and publish the poll.
Toluna will give you notifications and detailed results on the poll, to help you get a feel for what a stranger thinks of your “look” and initial thoughts.
Use the information.
Sometimes, you will find through your research that you are perceived as a type that you aren’t especially excited about. Although nothing is set in stone, you may find luck mastering your type and landing some roles with it so that you can establish yourself and build some success. Many actors work on reversing and changing their character type once they have become established, and some find success with their new types as time goes on.
Use your type, study your features, and take full advantage of how you are perceived so that you benefit from it at auditions instead of trying for roles you aren’t suited for.
Looking for more?
We were also inspired by the New York Film Academy’s discussion on “How To Find Your Type As An Actor”, which has great information for people looking to nail down their type. Check it out!