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Backstage Experts

Why Knowing Your Type IS Important

Why Knowing Your Type IS Important
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I have a love/hate relationship with being typecast. I don’t think I’m alone in this thinking. Many actors endeavor to break away from being cast in the same roles over and over again. I think I speak true when I say it’s the actor’s dream to be one of those few who is known for breaking the mold. Gary Oldman comes to mind, the man is a chameleon.

However, I think it is important to take note of your type. Here’s why.

Knowing your type is important because it can broaden your horizon.
We all have our own presupposition of the type of characters we should be playing. However, we’re not always as perceptive of the vast pool of character types we could go for.

For a long time, I only saw myself as the best friend or the quirky girl on the sidelines. Not as glamorous as the leading lady types but still fun characters for a lifetime career as an actress.

Then in one acting course, my classmates and I were asked to spend a full minute silently staring at each other to think up the types of characters we could see that person playing. I loathed it, but soon learned how beneficial it was to have an idea of how others saw me.

During the session, my preconceived ideas were broadened to reveal a new bunch of characters I could try my hand playing. Knowing this helped me to branch out in my acting too.

READ: 3 Reasons It’s Time to Ignore Your Type

The same can happen for you. Maybe you have a small circle of characters you think you’d be good for, but ask fellow actors what roles they could see you in. Then use that information to your advantage by workshopping scenes with these types of characters. Not only will it help you grow as an actor, but it may help you go for auditions you would never have before.

Knowing your type is important because it can save you time.
As someone who has been a casting director on two independent features, I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing your type. You’d be surprised how often I put out a casting call for a specific character, giving information on the age range and look, only to have a heap of actors apply who clearly don’t fit. My favorite is when I have twenty-somethings asking to audition for a character who’s six! (True story.)

It’s a waste of my time and a waste of the actors time.

When an actor knows the types of characters to audition for, it frees up their time to go for roles they actually fit verses waiting on auditions for roles they don’t. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend a day auditioning for characters I actually have a real chance to play instead of ones I don’t.

Sometimes it can be disheartening to hear what type others think, but take what they say with a grain of salt. Learn where you can and dismiss it where it hinders. And don’t see it as part of who you are; it’s not your identity, it’s like a skill or tool for your trade. That’s it.

Knowing your type is important and can definitely be beneficial to your career but at the end of the day, go for the roles that inspire you.

Charis Joy Jackson is an actress, casting director, director, and producer. She’s been working in independent film for 10 years and teaches an intensive three-month acting school. Read her full bio here!

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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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