“Who the bloody hell are ya?” – Lara Bingle, 2006, Tourism Australia. That was the quote wasn’t it? Hmm. Either way, it’s kind of important to know who you are, especially as an actor, artist, writer, director or StageMilker. But, in saying that, I’m a little torn when it comes to an ‘actor’s type’.
I think I’ve made up my mind on 2 things though: a) you gotta know what your type is, so you can wurk it, flaunt it, and tear up the casting room, and b) then who gives a darn.
So how do we figure out what our type is?
Go forth, open up an excel spreadsheet (love me some excel spreadsheets) and fill out my little acting-type-version-of-an-e-harmony profile:
- What are your physical characteristics?
- What is the quality of your voice?
- What are your special skills? (PG-rated please)
- What age range can you play?
- What are your strengths & weaknesses?
- What do other people say about you? Including friends, coaches, mentors, your grandma and even your enemies.
- Now, make a list of all the Films, Plays & TV shows you love, and the character’s that you think you could have realistically auditioned for (realistic being the operative word here…)
- Write down 3 words or phrases that describe each of those characters. E.g. lonely, vulnerable, wants to be loved, or fierce, stubborn and needs to be in control.
- Have an opinion – this is the only piece of dating advice you’ll find on StageMilk. People with a strong, unapologetic, unashamed point of view are incredibly sexy. Don’t be afraid to disagree with people, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. That’s why we’re human beings and not seaweed at the bottom of a deep lake. We get to make up our mind about ideas, emotions, thoughts, questions – honour that gift, and don’t beat around the bush (or seaweed?).
I think you see where this is going: Use your e-harmony profile answers, and put them up against the other characters and actors in the productions you love. You should start to get a solid idea of where you fit into the performing arts industry environment.
Putting it to good use
Use what you’ve discovered here to help you find showreel script material, and for visual references for when you’re getting your headshots taken. Great headshot photographers, and experienced showreel producers work with your type, not against it. If you can provide them with this knowledge and a solid understanding of who you are as an actor/character, you’re going to get the best results out of your shoots.
The important thing to take away here is; know your type, know yourself from the casting director/agent/producer/director’s perspective, and then don’t think too much about it. If you’re just starting out, it’s important to play to your strengths, but don’t write yourself off for roles that are maybe a bit of a stretch for you. You can do it, I believe in you. There are so many actors that go way against type, and it works, but I’m betting they knew exactly who they were first.
* Here’s a little golden nugget – as soon as you know who you are, other people will know too. You don’t need to tell them, you can just do you (Boo).
**Oh, and another one – read scripts, and then watch the production – what were your instincts with characters, genre and style, vs. how was the production cast in the end? It’s really important to develop this skill, so when you receive a script for a brand new production, and there’s no information available, you’ll have a good idea of the tone, genre, character types etc. This will definitely give you an advantage in the audition room.
That’s all I have for now, I may update this in a few weeks when I change my mind about the whole thing. But hopefully this helps you figure out who you are/become a better lover.