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5 Steps to Determining Your Type as an Actor

5 Steps to Determining Your Type as an Actor
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In “Sunset Boulevard,” Norma Desmond famously said (or sang), “I can play any role.” As actors, that’s our job, and we believe that we can. When we get casting breakdowns, we submit ourselves for anything we seem remotely qualified for. (And maybe even a few things that seem like a long shot, just for good measure.)

Maybe this method works, but it’s time consuming. And if you end up getting called in for an audition for a role you aren’t right for, it’s counterproductive. A better way to make use of your time and energy (and that of your manager’s and agent’s)? Getting really clear on your brand, starting with knowing your type.

This means niching down on the best roles to submit for to increase your odds of success. Luckily, you have all the tools you need to figure this out in the next your.

First, let’s focus on finding your type aka the roles you typically get called in for. Here’s a five-step method for niching down on your type:

What you’ll need:

  • Audition breakdowns for roles you actually auditioned for
  • Pen and paper

Step 1: Gather your audition specs
Go through your e-mails, casting website alerts, dig through your files, and find the specs for auditions you went out on in the past two years. If you’re just starting out and haven’t gone on many auditions yet, look at the characters you’ve done well with in scene study class and any feedback you received.

Step 2: Make two lists
Review each audition spec and make two lists. List A should be job titles that appear in the specs. Nurse, firefighter, doctor, teacher, housewife, father, executive, etc. Every time you see a jobs on a spec, make a tic mark next to that job title.

List B is attitudes. Look for words describing the personality of the character, such as caring, intelligent, angry, persistent, sarcastic, etc. This gives us a flavor for how to play the role. You may need to group similar words together. Again, make a tic mark next to the adjectives as you see them recur.

Another thing you may want to note is age ranges. Sometimes these are quite broad (25-40), but sometimes they are fairly specific (“18 to look younger”). Whether or not it’s your actual age, you’ll need to check your vanity at the door.

READ: How to Embrace Your “Type”

Step 3: Look for patterns
Examine your lists. Are there certain jobs or descriptions that occur more frequently than others? You may need to group similar words together and see if there are clusters. What are the top 2-3 in each list?

Step 4: Your Type = age range + jobs + attitude
Look at the roles and descriptors that floated to the top of your tallies. These are a representative example of your type. Mix and match some of the items on this list. They should feel like casting specs you are right for because you pulled them directly from your own auditions.

Step 5:  Submit for your type
Armed with this list, you can drill down on casting breakdowns to home in on roles that are truly right for you.

Not every actor is right for every role, but we can be strategic about what roles we go after and how in order to increase our chances for success. The better we know ourselves as actors, the more we can focus on what’s important: delivering a great performance. And, the better we’re able to communicate what we can do to our agents and managers, the easier we make it for them to send us auditions that are a good fit, thereby increase our odds of booking.

This is just one way to figure out your “type.” I’d love to hear from you: After going through this process, what type are you? What are other methods have you used to discover your type?

As an actor, Ratana has performed in commercials, video games, animated features, as well as many industrial narration projects. She has also coached and mentored voice actors as they begin their acting careers. As a brand strategy coach and consultant, Ratana has worked with clients from very diverse backgrounds at all levels, from Fortune 500 teams, to entrepreneurs, artists, high school and college students, and many others. She specializes in helping artistic entrepreneurs identify and communicate their brands authentically in order to establish and grow their presence. Connect with Ratana on Facebook, Twitter, and ratana.net.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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