TYPECASTING: WHY IT IS IMPORTANT EARLY ON IN YOUR ACTING CAREER
Human beings look at the world and, in a nanosecond, compare what they see to what they know. Commonly known as “generalizing,” we are hardwired to categorize the people we meet and compare them to our past experiences so that we may more easily understand them. Stereotyping takes this one step further, and promotes these generalizations as truth. We start to make instant assessments of people until they prove the opposite, rather that keeping an open mind to all of the possibilities. And, we do this in a split second, as if via instinct. So, how does this affect our work as actors?
Since acting involves the art of conveying the human experience, and human beings experience the world in generalizations, it stands to reason that acting would involve generalizations as well. Actors have come to know this as typecasting, and most actors cringe at the mere mention of the phrase. But typecasting is responsible for most of the work you and I are blessed to do. The trick is knowing yourself well enough to know what “type” you default to, making choices about what kind of work we want to do, and then making sure these two things are synchronized perfectly. Actors who hate typecasting are the ones who lack control over it. If you control your type (or in marketing terms, your “brand”) you can take advantage of the human tendency to generalize and use it in the audition room.
Here are a few basic starter tips for creating your own type/brand:
1. Start by thinking about what kind of medium(s) you want to work in: film, TV, theater, musical theater, commercials, industrials, etc...What are the similarities between the actors in this medium? What are the differences? Where do you fit in?
2. What kind of genre(s) are you interested in: comedy, drama, horror, thriller, romance, etc. Again, look at the main players and see how you compare. Is there anything lacking in your work/skill set that you think would be useful?
3. Who are some of the people who have the career you crave? What do they have going for them that you could add to your arsenal? And more importantly, how are you different? How can you stand out?
Ignoring typecasting is not going to make your career any easier; the more you can take control over your career and present yourself in a clear, unique, and easy to understand fashion, the easier it will be for you to do the kind of work that inspires you.
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