Define Your Type for Acting

What’s your type for roles? Can you use it to your advantage?

Unfortunately, most Production teams cast actors based on types – on appearances, style, mannerisms, personalities, and demonstrated character. You need to know your type because once you identify and focus on cultivating it, you can use it to your advantage or identify components of your type or style to cultivate your personification or acting personality to a sellable type. But still, with this exciting framework to begin your creative work, you can only work with what you have – what you already are. For example, a 40-year-old bald man with a long nose wouldn’t be cast as Romeo in the film industry; maybe in some experimental theater, but not in a Hollywood movie.

We can break it down into two definitions: your Inner type and Outer type.

Inner type

Inner type is who you are as a person — your behavior, reactions to specific situations, charisma, etc. Your inner type is the embodiment of your inner expression specific to you. Projections from your inner-self, sense of identity, needs, and wants.

Outer type

Outer type is how you present yourself out to the world, how others see you — your visual look.

In combination, these expressions are how your friends, family, the public will see or come to know you. But for you, as an actor, it is important to be aware of who you are and how you portray or express yourself both in the private and public eye. Since casting directors don’t know you, their opinions are based on first impressions from a headshot and an audition—first impressions matter. First impressions (outer type) can differ from who you are within (inner type). It is your responsibility as an individual artist, role/job seeker, and performer to execute this delicately and with mindfulness.

How to find your type for acting?

If you don’t know your type, here is one exercise on how to find out. Go and ask strangers. Yes, easy as that. Wear what you perceive to be neutral clothing, not distract one’s perception with your attire’s decoration. Grab a paper and a pen and go to the streets and ask strangers a few questions such as “If I were a fruit, what I would be?”, “If I would be a genre of music, what would I be?” etc. More questions, more anchor points to find out your type. You can make up as many questions as you want — brand of car, an animal, an element, type of tree, beverage of alcohol, etc. Or you can also ask what they think you are doing for a living. If you are from the middle or upper class, what is your age, etc.?

Use this exercise as an ongoing thing

Ask new friends you’ve just met. Ask your close friends and compare answers from strangers with responses from your friends. Everything helps to find your type. When you have enough clues, look for the most common, and there is your type for acting.

You can also change elements of your type. A man with a beard, without a beard, or with a specific beard style are different types—the same but with different haircuts. So you can change your type a little, but still, it will be you, so you have to accept yourself as you are. It is you! As Dr. Seuss proclaims, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you.” Everybody is unique and beautiful, and yet we are connected beneath our Outer types. Let this settle your sense of separateness and fuel your confidence in identifying, cultivating, and proudly embodying your type. Find your type, accept it, and use it to your advantage.

About the author:

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I am a never-ending fighter for the perfect ART, enjoying the process of unperfectness. I am many things and nothing, but my main focus is acting. I've studied at the Vancouver Academy of Dramatic Arts. I've been an actor in Theater Around The Corner, Moravian Theater Olomouc, Theater DiGoknu, or Mlada Scena II. And I am working hard on my craft.

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