One of the most important things for you to learn, as an actor/actress, is what your type is. Think of it more this way. You are a business brand and people expect certain things from that brand.
Just like Coca-Cola (randomly selected since it’s what I’m drinking at the moment). People have certain expectations when purchasing, drinking, and finally enjoying their Coca-Cola. As a purchaser, you look for the red and white logo design with the trademarked contour bottle design. You know it’s Coca-Cola because it looks like Coca-Cola. While drinking your Coca-cola, you expect it to taste like Coca-Cola and not Pepsi (which to me tastes sweeter). You expect it to be effervescent and not flat. While enjoying your drink, you expect it to be cold (you did purchase it cold I hope) and you expect it to totally quench your thirst.
As an actor/actress, the casting directors you cast for have certain expectations also. If the role requires a certain look and taste (AKA type), you better make sure that you fit the expectations if you want that part.
Determining your type is possible by looking at several factors. Those main factors are:
- Physical Appearance: This is an easy one. Look at yourself in the mirror. Look from the front, back, and both sides. Now think about a few words that honestly describe what you see. Are you are you short, tall, big or small? Are you in physical shape or not? Do you look young or old? All of these factors and more make a difference when describing your physical appearance.
- Age: Your actual age is *usually* unimportant. What is more important is the age range that you can realistically portray.
- Personality/Essence: Think of how you would describe yourself to someone you’ve just met. Even though *most* of us never give the real description at first, your agent and the casting director will be able to almost immediately tell your type. Casting directors are magical like that. I think it has something to do with the unicorn horn dust that they sprinkle on their morning cereal. If someone made a list of personality traits, it can list into the hundreds. 638 in fact. An individual named Patrick Gunkel at MIT compiled a list for you already. You can say that Patrick is helpful (#92), kind (#113), and knowledgeable (#114). And that’s just Patrick’s list. As complex as humans are, the list can go on forever.
- Ethnic Types: Same as age above, your actual ethnicity is *usually* unimportant. What is more important is the ethnic range that you can realistically portray.
- Profession or lifestyle: Can you fit the role of a detective, a doctor, or a creative artist? Creative artist you say…now get more specific. Can you play the role of a highly paid graphic designer for a top NYC ad agency or are you a starving artist hocking your wares in Union Square, Manhattan?
By knowing your brand guidelines (you do have brand guidelines for yourself right?) and your specific type(s), we can shoot headshots that are tailored for specific roles and give you a better chance of being booked.
Contact Mark Ellison today at NYC Photo Studio to discuss your brand and to talk more about how we can best help you represent your character type with casting directors and agents.
Special thanks to Patrick Gunkel for his comprehensive list of personality traits: