Monday, June 10, 2013

9 Secrets to Figuring Out Your "Type" Before You Shoot a Head Shot

She probably needed at least two head shots

Reduce Rejection in Auditions.  Don't Go if You Aren't the Type

TV and film actors do themselves a huge favor by spending serious thought, research, and consideration of their type.  Do a little test.  Take your current headshot and ask random strangers what they see.  What profession?  What age?  Girl next door or enginue?  Hard working lawyer or hamburger flipper. 

No matter what your type, there is plenty of work.  Who'd have thought just a handful of years ago that there would be so many different faces on TV, from every age, ethnicity, and lifestyle.  Even nerds get roles today. 

But if you are a nerd, there is no sense showing up for the role of sexy private eye.  If you look like a lady lawyer, don't think you'll get selected for roles as a au pair.  If you have worked out your specific type, you can redo your head shots to bring that idea home.  Wear clothes, hair style, and give the look that works with the type.  You might even be able to fit a few very different types.  Do head shots for each, then dress the part and wear your hair the same way for auditions.

Carolyne Barry, a casting director, working actress, and director, is considered by agents, casting directors and students, the best Commercial Audition Acting Coach in Los Angeles.  She gives the following suggestions in a recent article:

I suggest you wait to start defining or labeling yourself until you have completed at least six months of professional, not academic, acting training. Your initial training will help because:
1. Acting workshops expose you to a range of characters you might be right for.
2. Professional Commercial and Theatrical on-camera classes will give you a good opportunity to objectively see and study yourself.
3. Many scene-study and on-camera-technique teachers often cast you in roles that they believe are indicative of your look and personality.
4. Improvisation classes will teach you to trust your instincts and work through your blocks, which will help to free you up so an authentic you can be present
During your investigation, you must honestly look at the following things.
1. Age. You don't have to necessarily look at your real age but instead at the age range you can authentically play.
2. Physical Appearance. Are you physically an ingénue? A young leading woman? A young leading man? A leading woman? A leading man? A character/comedienne? Then there is more specific typing, such as a young character, a character leading man or woman, upscale, country, hip/trendy, urban, etc.
3. Personality. Are you energetic, funny, serious, silly, playful, shy, emotional, quirky, cool, nerdy, friendly, expressive, spontaneous, introverted or extroverted? The list goes on.
4. Essence. Is your essence strong, powerful, delicate, arrogant, humble, sophisticated, earthy, vulnerable, fragile, offbeat, contemporary, classic, lower class, middle class, upper class, city, suburban, country, executive class, working class, intelligent, intense, competent, independent, soft, hard, winner or loser? Again, the list goes on.

Know Your Type
Linda Fionte has worked for many years as a casting director.  She offers the following in an article in  You must determine which one of these is you:

Models: You are gorgeous, thin, and without blemishes. If you’re a female, you’re at least 5’ 9”, if a man, at least 6’ and you are generally 16-25 years old. These “bikini” or “sexy” types often do perfume, lingerie, or car ads. Your beauty intimidates the world.
Lifestyle Models: You are beautiful, but not threatening. Also called “commercial models,” or “Proctor & Gamble” types (because P&G used these models for decades). You are in good shape, 25 years and older, and exude health and wealth. These actors play moms and dads, businesspeople, athletes, and yuppies.
Real People: You are the girl or guy next door, very attractive (although you may have a flaw or two). Even though these people play average types (the neighbor, the friend, the secretary, etc.), they are more beautiful than the average person.
Character: You look like 99.9% of the world. Fat, short, bald, and crooked nosed are all selling points in this category. Generally, these people have a sense of humor and a large personality. They play, according to Linda, “sports fan, detective, trailer-park inhabitant, biker, salty dog…funny grandma/grandpa, crazy neighbor, etc.”

The article in goes on to offer this final bit of advice.

Don’t trust your sense of yourself of what your friends and family say about what type you are. Go to a public place – such as shopping mall – and ask strangers what job they think you have. That will tell you a lot about how the world perceives you, and will give you an objective sense of your type.

In the book, Acting in Television Commercials for Fun and Profit, Squire Fridell listed some basic commercial types:

The Housewife
The Young Mother
The Girl Next Door
The Fast-Food Counter Girl
The Cosmetic Model
The Ditzy Blonde
The Wolf Whistle Bombshell
The One Calorie Girl
The Female Executive
The Granny
The Spokeswoman
The Young Husband
The Father
The Guy Next Door
The Fast Food Counter Guy
The Cosmetic Model
The Lumberjack
The Handsome Man
The Athlete
The Male Executive
The Granddad
The Spokesman

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