Have you ever walked into an audition room and felt that you’re being stereotyped based on your “look” and your headshot alone — even before you’ve uttered a word? You’re not alone!
You know what I’m talking about: you’re quickly classified into a category like the girl/guy next door, the foxy/sexy one, the young mom/dad, the young professional, the wise/older grandparent, the nerd/geek, the seasoned business professional or doctor type, the quirky one, the comic relief or klutz, the badass rebel, the ditzy one that probably dies, or gets killed by zombies, the one that might be involved with the mafia or a gang, etc.. The list can obviously go on, but the point is that casting directors and screenwriters like to put actors and characters in boxes.
What you’ve got to decide is how you can make the industry standards work to your advantage. It is inevitable that you’re going to get stereotyped, so get used to it. But it doesn’t always have to be a bad thing! You know as well as we do that some talents out there make an entire career using one or two stereotypes (we’re thinking of you, Owen Wilson and Seth Rogen). At the same time, other actors can be just as successful as chameleons.
So, let’s help to define YOU. What is your brand as an actor? If you’re versatile enough to be anybody (or anything, with the proper makeup, of course), go for it by taking a variety of headshots, varying up your reel, and performing a monologue chock full o’ different personalities and emotions. On the other hand, if you are good at a couple different types, embrace it! Those are your “money reads” and you should wear them with confidence.
My actor friend, Alanah Rafferty, and I were interested in how people perceived us upon a first impression. Check out our Actor Brand Adventure experiment where we put our similar looks to the test of immediate comparison. BTW, I totally encourage you to design and conduct a similar experiment for yourself, wherever you might be!