The Most Sought-After Type

By Kate McClanaghan,

Do you know what your ‘type’ is?

In other words, are you fairly aware of how people see you and what type of roles you’d most likely be considered to play?

Well, are you thought of as a warm, approachable, mom or dad-type? As a rebellious teenager with a lot of attitude? As a wise, albeit somewhat awkward professorial-type? These are all types.

The fact is type can be elusive in this business probably because reality is relative. But you should know, how you read as a talent and what you innately bring to the table can speak volumes before you even
utter a sound.

Your attitude, how you look (your face, your build) have an entire performance built right into them. Your presence, whether you realize it or not, says a great deal. Hopefully, it’s saying what you intend it
to say. Therein lies the rub.

“How you read as a talent
and what you innately bring to the role
speaks volumes before
you even utter a sound.”

In advertising, we identify with a product or service by its brand identity. This identity is carefully sculpted and established through well-planned promotion and product placement. It often takes years just
to come up with a name like Häagen-Dazs (which is absolute fiction) or Lunchables, for instance. It can take even longer to establish a reputation like McDonald’s or Bloomingdale’s. These things don’t come about on their own, although they’re certainly expected to appear that way.

Branding allows you to differentiate yourself as a talent from the competition and, in the process, to bond with your audience and create loyalty. Further, branding is the process of making something
distinctive in the marketplace. To communicate effectively in a mass
medium, you must be able to convey your point quickly, distinctly, and
directly, otherwise your communication may overwhelm, confuse, or repel
the viewer/listener.

The term ‘identity’ comes from marketing. The idea here is if you can easily identify with the product/subject in order to readily determine its value. (Hmm. Sounds more like casting at every turn.) If
you find the subject is something you can identify with rather quickly,
you are more likely to embrace it. It will somehow appear familiar,
even if it may be something new. This is primarily why establishing
type is important.

Okay, so identity and branding deal with making a product recognizable and representative of something specific. Determining your type as a talent, for both on-camera and voiceover, utilizes many of
the same features as developing a brand identity. That’s what we do
when career counseling you and producing your demos at SOUND ADVICE, right down to art-directing the graphics on your promotional materials. Everyone conveys a type of some sort.

So, as most talent may wonder: is there a single most desirable type over all others?

In a word, yes! And that would be you being you, naturally. You, honest. You, interested and playful. This is appealing on a variety of levels, so building a true comfort zone for yourself can never be under
estimated. You can change a whole lot of minds with a confident,
personality driven performance. This is the case regardless of your
gender, age, size, race or performance medium. The fact remains this
industry has a demand for all types, rather than maintaining a strict diet of only ‘young, perfect-Barbie-doll blondes’, for example.

As actors when we first start out in the talent business, it’s comforting to learn no one does what you do. You’re unique. That’s a fact.

You may have thought, “I’m the only one of me. I don’t want to be compared with anyone else.”
To be honest, that’s not the issue at all, because you’re right!

However, while it’s true no one does what you do quite the way you do it, you are, certainly at first glance, perceived as a specific type, such as ‘the best friend’ or the ‘romantic lead’ or the ‘action hero’ by those auditioning you or who might potentially hire you. You will
be remembered by association with something familiar to those
auditioning you, no matter how unique you truly may be.

So, whether you embrace how you’re perceived or not, you may as well like it at least a little bit, because without type no one will be able to identify or relate with you or get a handle on you in order to
establish your value to their future production. And that, my friend,
is a cold, hard fact.

Embracing who you honestly are, rather trying to become something or someone you’re not, will ultimately make your job as a working talent infinitely easier. Isn’t that a relief? Regardless of what ever you
may hear to the contrary.

The truth is there is nothing more valuable than you… being YOU!

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Comment by Melanie Haynes on March 12, 2010 at 9:52am
Ah, yes. Good Advice, Sound Advice! We often get so caught up in trying to be whatever we think we should be for a particular audition, etc., that we lose sight of this..... thanks for the reminder!

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