What is Type?

By Webmaster

  • What is Type?

    You have to know exactly what you’re selling in order to consistently make the sale

    (by Tonya Tannenbaum)

    An actor’s “type” generally refers to the category or categories that the actor is loosely placed in for purposes of casting. An actor’s type is useful for narrowing down which actors, among the vast sea of potential actors, might fit the breakdown of a role being cast. Sometimes referred to as an actor’s “niche”, type is also useful for actors in their understanding of where they fit into the market, relative to other actors.

    Breaking down “Type”

    All theatrical presentation is based on an audience’s ability to suspend disbelief. That is, audiences understand that the production they are experiencing is make-believe. They understand the character in The Martian, for example, is not really on the planet, Mars, and that the character, Mark Watney, is actually the famous actor, Matt Damon. But the audience suspends their disbelief in order to accept this imaginary world and enjoy the story.

    However, this suspension of disbelief can only go so far. The imaginary world still must be genuinely believable. Otherwise the audience will reject the imaginary world altogether.

  • What if, for example, the role of Mark Watney in The Martian was cast, not with Matt Damon, but with an actor who looks 18 years of age; too young to realistically be the astronaut, Mark Watney? The audience would, of course, reject the story wholesale, because the 18-year-old astronaut is simply not plausible in that story.

    This is where type comes into play. An actor’s type plays an essential role in the casting process. Because, no matter how talented an actor is, he or she can only, believably, play a limited number of roles.

  • Criteria for “Type”

    As an actor, you probably already know what criteria generally make up an actor’s type. They are the key physical and personality factors that are usually laid out in breakdowns. They include things like:

    Gender – male or female

    Age range – whether an actor appears to fall within the general age range of the character

    Race – whether an actor appears to fit within the racial background of the character

    • Physical build – whether an actor fits the size, height, weight and overall dimensions required for the character

    • Look – whether the audience can immediately identify an actor as fitting with the character’s personality and profession, such as lawyer, doctor, grandfather, geek, affluent, arrogant, etc.

  • Type is important for casting

    Casting must choose actors who can believably fit the roles being cast. While there is lots of room for creativity and deviation, casting, nonetheless, must choose an actor who fits the breakdown well-enough for audiences to take the character, and the overall story, seriously.

    Type is one of the first things casting directors examine when determining from whom to request a self-tape or to bring in for an in-person audition.

    If an actor does not fit the essence of the character as described in the breakdowns, the casting director will likely move on to the next actor.

    While there are always exceptions made during the casting process, actors rarely get cast outside of a small collection of roles.

    Type is also important for casting because it narrows the field of potential actors, making it easier to find and cast the right actor in a role that is right for them and for the story.

  • Type is important for actors, too

    Understanding “type” is important for actors, as well. Since actors can only believably play a limited number of characters, knowing your type is essential to effectively finding and competing for the roles that are right for you.

    Auditioning for roles that you’re not right for is usually a waste of time, since it is very unlikely that you’ll be cast in a role that doesn’t fit your type.

    It is the proverbial fitting of a square peg into a round hole. If you constantly audition for roles that don’t fit your type, your success rate will suffer, no matter how talented you are. There are just some roles an actor cannot do or, at least, cannot do nearly as well as another actor who better fits the type that the role demands.

    It is also a waste of resources. Auditioning for roles that don’t fit your type is a waste of money, effort, and focus. Knowing where you effectively fit into the marketplace – your type – makes it easier to concentrate your resources and to find success. In other words, you have to know exactly what you’re selling in order to consistently make the sale.

  • You Might Also Like:
    What is a “Cold Read”?


    Recommended Posts

  • Ad

  • What is Actors’ Equity Association?

    What is Actors’ Equity Association? Demystifying the guardian of theater professionals (By Jim Webb) In the world of live theater, actors, stage managers, and performers rely on an organization that champions their rights,…

    The Basics of the Alexander Technique

    The Basics of the Alexander Technique How the Alexander Technique Can Empower Actors (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Karolina Grabowska | Pexels) Acting is a demanding craft that requires not only exceptional talent but…

    What is a Director of Photography?

    What is a Director of Photography? Demystifying the Role of the D.P. (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Vanilla Bear Films | Unsplash) In the world of filmmaking, a symphony of creative minds comes together…

    15 Types of Voiceover Acting Work

    15 Types of Voiceover Acting Work Your Guide to a Diverse Industry (By Jim Webb) (Photo: Gianandrea Villa/Unsplash) The world of voiceover acting is a dynamic and diverse field that offers a wide…

    Important Theatre Definitions Every Actor Should Know

    Important Theatre Definitions Every Actor Should Know Familiarize yourself with these key theatre terms (By Javier Guerra) (Photo: Cottonbro | Pexels) As an aspiring actor, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with key theatre…

  • Ad

  • What is a Commercial Headshot?

    What is a Commercial Headshot? The importance of a commercial headshot (By Jim Webb) (Photo: Marcelo Chagas | Pexels) A commercial headshot is an 8×10 photo that is designed to help an actor…

    Theatre Acting vs. Film Acting

    Theatre Acting vs. Film Acting What’s the main difference? (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Erik Mclean/ Unsplash) The same habits you picked up as a theatre actor may cause you a lot of pain,…

    What is Improv?

    What is Improv? Is improv good for acting? (By Carmichael Phillips) (Photo: Cottonbro | Pexels) Improv is short for improvisation or improvisational theatre. It is a type of theatrical performance that is unscripted….

  • Ad

  • Demo Reel vs. Showreel: What is the Difference?

    QUESTION: Demo Reel vs. Showreel: What is the Difference? (By AM Staff) (Photo: Bruno Massao | Pexels) QUESTION: What is the difference between a demo reel and a showreel? ANSWER: A demo reel…

    What is a Survival Job? 

    What is a Survival Job? What are some typical survival jobs? (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Elevate | Pexels) For actors, a survival job is a job that, quite literally, helps you to survive….

    What is the Meisner Technique? 

    What is the Meisner Technique? “Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Edmond Dantes | Pexels) The Meisner Technique is the revolutionary approach to acting that was first introduced by…

    What are Beats? 

    What are Beats? Recognizing the important shifts in the story to deliver a more powerful performance (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Alex Green | Pexels) A beat is a slight shift in the thought,…

    What is Pilot Season? 

    What is Pilot Season? A few notes about pilots and pilot season… (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Rodnae Productions | Pexels) A television pilot, also referred to as simply a “pilot”, is a test…

  • Ad

  • What is an Avail? 

    What is an Avail? Explaining this important, non-binding agreement (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Andrea Piacquadio | Pexels) You (or your rep) submitted your materials in response to a breakdown. You secured an audition….

    What is a Casting Director? 

    What is a Casting Director?  The essence of their job is in having an “eye for talent”  (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Emmy E | Pexels) A casting director is just that. They are…

    ACTING TECHNIQUE | What is a Button? 

    ACTING TECHNIQUE What is a Button? Putting the finishing touch on a scene  (By Carmichael Phillips) (Photo: Anastasiya Gepp | Pexels) You may have heard the expression, “Put a button on it!”, in…

  • Ad

  • What is an Audition? 

    What is an Audition? What is the purpose of an audition? (By Jim Webb) An audition is a brief acting performance by an actor or actress in hopes of landing a role in…

    What is Global Rule One? 

    What is Global Rule One?  Breaking down one of SAG-AFTRA’s founding principles  (By Tonya Tannenbaum) Global Rule One (GR1) is a rule within the guidelines of SAG-AFTRA that declares that an actor who…

    What is an Audition Reader? 

    What is an Audition Reader?  Who, in an audition, plays the other characters in the scene? (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Vanilla Bear Films | Unsplash) An audition reader is the person in an…

    What is SAG-AFTRA? 

    What is SAG-AFTRA?  (By Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Andrea Piacquadio | Pexels) SAG-AFTRA is an American labor union that represents actors, particularly in the areas of film and television. Additionally, the union represents other…

    What Are the 5 W’s of Acting?

    What Are the 5 W’s of Acting?  Defining your character’s given circumstances  (By Jim Webb) (Photo: Cottonbro | Pexels) Who are you? What do you want in life and why do you want…

  • Ad