One thing many actors struggle with is how to determine their age range when it comes to seeking out appropriate roles. Oftentimes, casting directors will list a range the character portrayed can be rather than a definitive age. Even if a single age is listed, there is often some wiggle room depending on an actor’s appearance. We all know that certain someone who is 40 but looks 25. We may also know someone who is 40 and looks much older. Because appearances differ so vastly, age range tends to be open to interpretation. So, how can you ensure you aren’t missing out on viable roles and appropriately decide what your age range should be?
The bottom line is this. Agents, casting directors, and directors want to work with professional actors who understand their range and the characters for which they will be the best fit. It is important to not only understand that it will be very difficult for a middle-aged mom to land the role of an elderly gentleman (makeup can work wonders…but?). Just the same, it will be futile for a 20-something to state their age range is 18-60. At some point, you just have to be realistic, and you’ll need to narrow it down a bit, too.
In fact, professional actors do not state that their range is any more than a five-year span. The only exceptions to this rule are children and senior citizens who often can play a wider range. Therefore, it’s important to specify an appropriate range within five years of how old you actually are.
You might also want to consider “aging up” rather than trying to pull off younger roles. Physically, we all go through a lot of changes in our teens and early 20s. So, if you’re in your mid-20s and want to pull off 15, this is going to be really tough once you’re sitting next to other teenaged candidates. Again, being a professional means being realistic. If you still feel 15 inside, great, but your range needs to match your physical appearance.
You also want to consider the direction your career is headed. Where do you want to be in a year, five years or ten? Certainly, if you want to have a solid understanding of what your career goals are, and you cannot possibly get there by getting stuck in the past. In other words, you shouldn’t be continually seeking out roles that may have been appropriate in your earlier years. At some point, someone is going to tell you enough is enough. It’s best if that someone is you.
When you’re thinking of a realistic, appropriate age to give industry professionals whenever you’re asked, take a good look in the mirror and own the image staring back at you. You can even ask others what they think, and it’s probably best to get insight from those who you’re not close with so you can ensure you’re getting a more objective opinion. Whatever the age is, own it! Be confident in who you are and seek out roles designed for your range. If you’ve determined the magic numbers, you’re likely to start getting booked…a lot.