How to Determine Your Age Range as an Actor

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Photo Source: Photo by Paola Aguilar on Unsplash

For an actor to create and sustain a career, it’s important to know exactly who they are in the eyes of the industry—which doesn’t always line up with who they want to be. Part of this is developing a brand and pinpointing their specific type. Agents, casting directors, and directors want to work with professional actors who are confident in what they have to offer. An important element of this is knowing the age range they can reasonably perform.

What should I consider when determining my acting age range? 

Here are four considerations when determining your specific age range.

1. An actor’s age range is no more than five years

Most importantly, your real age must be within that five-year span. The only exceptions are kids, who only get a two-year range because they change so quickly, and senior actors (75+) who are usually all clumped together in the “older actor” category.

2. Age up

Why does everyone want to be so young? There are characters of all ages in film and television, yet it is common for actors to want to play younger. Even if you think you look “young for your age,” odds are that there’s something that will give your true age away. If you’re saying that you’re 16 and you’re actually 24, when you come in for an audition and you’re sitting next to a true 16-year-old, the CD could look at you and think, It’s been a rough 16 years—or worse, Who do you think you’re fooling? 

Yes, there will always be every generation’s version of “Glee” or “90210” where actors are playing high school age when they’re actually in their 30s… but that’s not the norm. Err on the side of authenticity.

3. Where are you going? (Not where have you been)

So many actors get stuck in the past: that year they booked a couple nationals, when they got that movie role and three guest stars, or the period their hair looked amazing. A working actor looks forward by creating a career arc with attainable goals getting bigger and bigger. If you’re in your 30s still submitting for 20-something roles, you’re cutting yourself off from all of the powerful characters that would truly allow you to shine. Look to the next age category. How can you prepare yourself for those roles? That is a far better path to success than competing against younger actors just because you are resisting the reality of aging.

4. Embrace it. Own it. Present it.

Once you’re able to accept your real age, and identify the most accurate five-year range it falls within, the next step is to present that particular age at all times in your professional life. Watch television. Watch movies. Look for actors in your age category and note how they dress and how they wear their hair. If you want to play on the team, you need to wear the correct uniform.

Any time you have your acting hat on (auditions, meetings, performances), you should look like your real age. This way, you will always be presenting the same image to everyone—and even better, it will be authentic, helping you to land the roles where you best belong.

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.

Author Headshot
Tom Burke
Tom Burke is an image consultant, headshot coach, and acting teacher. After transitioning from a successful print model to an accomplished on-camera actor to a proficient on-set acting coach, Burke focused his wealth of knowledge and keen eye to become one of L.A.’s premier image consultants and headshot coaches, and creator of the Castable Actor, a series of workshops, seminars, and advice designed to help actors open doors to a successful career.
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