Concern over “type” is an epidemic among many actors—“What type am I?” “How should I brand myself?” “Am I the type they’re looking for?”
This wastes a lot of energy—energy you could be spending working to be the best and most interesting actor you can be. As “Louie” casting director Gayle Keller puts it, “You don’t need to worry about your type. Just be as prepared, interesting, and as true to yourself in the role as you can be and we’ll worry about your type. The bottom line is that you have to be good.”
There is a question of type that you can answer, however, and it’s the only one that really matters to the casting director and producers:
Are you the type of actor who belongs in the job?
The answer to the question goes far beyond just the typical issues of type and includes the entire experience that people have of you in the room.
Here are 3 types of actors commonly seen in an audition.
The crowd-pleaser. This actor is insecure with a capital I. They don’t have a way of preparing that gives them the confidence of their own convictions, so they look to the people in the room for approval. This usually manifests as loud and dishonest displays of “confidence.” This confidence is not real, of course, and the actor would be appalled to know how transparent this act really is. The work will almost certainly follow the same pattern. It tends to be disconnected from the actor as well as the reader—pushed and over the top. The crowd pleaser hopes beyond all hope that manic energy and volume will work in place of honesty, connection and focus. This scared and showy performer pleases no one.
The wallflower. This actor walks on egg shells and is unwilling to take control. They enter the room, say hello, and stand there like a deer in the headlights, waiting to be told what to do instead of taking command of their space. They look like they’d rather be anywhere else than in the room.
Unsurprisingly, their work is tentative and cautious. There may be some good things there, but they refuse to commit to themselves or their choices for fear of being “wrong.”
This goes way beyond being shy, which is fine if you own it. The wall flower actually looks like they’re trying not to be noticed—the opposite of what you need to happen if you want the job.
If you’re not willing to put yourself and you’re work out there, don’t go to the audition. It will be a waste of everyone’s time.
The job-getter. The actor who books the job is the one who has prepared in such a way that they can be their true self in the room. With no need to police their work, they are totally present and lean into the entire experience with enthusiastic joy. And why wouldn’t they? Their work is awesome. Their technique has allowed them to explore the edges and the depths of their personality so the choices they have made are personal and specific; they are prepared but still flexible enough to live in all of the moments of the piece. They don’t perform or sell, but instead knows how to turn their work into a dynamic, connected conversation, full of genuine listening, reactions, and job-getting moments.
This is the actor who belongs—an effortless three-dimensional human being who everyone wants to work with.
I worked with a casting director once who claimed she could tell whether an actor was going to be the one who belonged in the job or not based on their first two steps into the room. She saw immediately if an actor was true to themself, energized, genuine, and strong, and knew she was going to see work with the same qualities. She was aware that the opposite was true as well.
So, the next time you’re concerned about your type, be sure it’s not the typical obsession of, “Am I the right type for the part?” but rather, “Am I the type of actor who belongs in the job.” The first is out of your control, the second should be your life’s work.
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Craig Wallace is the creator and award-winning teacher of The Wallace Audition Technique, an audition preparation system that he developed based on his years of experience as a studio executive, talent agent and casting consultant. In his 14 years of teaching, he has seen the careers of hundreds of his students take off. He is also the author of the best-selling book, “The Best of You – Winning Auditions Your Way.”
Craig is currently teaching his audition technique classes and his Meditation for Actors classes in Santa Monica, CA. For more information visit www.wallaceauditiontechnique.com.