Getting more auditions or meetings with agents and managers are every actor’s concern. When actors are idle for too long, usually the first thing they typically think about is getting new headshots.
I sometimes see social media posts by actors who update their photos every six months, or more if they’re offered free or super-cheap sessions by brand new photographers trying to grow their business. More headshots is not going to solve the problem. So what will actually help?
Knowing your archetypes!
In life, there is often a disconnect between how we view ourselves and how others view us. And it couldn’t be even more true as an actor in the entertainment industry.
As actors, we think we can play any and every kind of role, which, of course, is true in theory. But agents, managers, casting directors— and everyone—will see you as a “type” or “category.” If you really want to crush it, knowing your specific types or archetypes, and being laser-focused on marketing yourself as such— and only pursuing those types of roles— will get you way further, way faster than trying to be the every-woman, or thinking that you’re a “badass detective-on-the-edge” when what you’d truly be cast as is the “sardonic cyber-expert.”
You not only must know your archetypes, you must also love them, or at least learn to embrace them if you truly don’t see yourself as such. Sometime actors can feel bad because they think they’re not being seen as who they believe themselves to be.
Keep this in mind: When the industry doesn’t know you yet, they don’t care about who you are as a person or what roles you think you’re right for, they care about: are you castable as the type they see you as. You might be a sweet, down-to-earth person, but if you look like you’d play a killer or an ice-queen— partly based on your looks/genetics— then market yourself as how they see you.
Imagine if you got feedback from trusted friends, actors, coaches, and industry people you have relationships with about how they see you in terms of type. You’d be get specific headshots, you’d run your social media a bit differently, you’d market yourself to the specific roles that would be right for you which may better your odds at getting called in.
This is called playing to your strengths! It’s an asset, not a curse, because it gets you and keeps you working!
Typically, an actor has three main archetypes they’d play, especially when they’re just starting out. You’ll often hear reps tell actors to get “3 different looks” when getting new headshots, and they’ll hopefully suggest the looks. They’re actually referring to your archetypes.
For example they’ll say “young mom” or “business woman” or “blue-collar.” And even though that’s helpful, archetypes need to be more specific because “young mom” could mean a wealthy mom who lives in Beverly Hills and drives a Bentley, or it could mean a trailer-park mom. Know who you are (meaning who you’d play on TV or in films).
When you market yourself to anyone in the industry and you know who you are, the people who could rep you or cast you will get you immediately. They can see you in those roles, which means you’re more likely to get more auditions.
Also know that all of this doesn’t mean you can’t and won’t play other roles. Of course you can. But when you’re starting out or currently building your résumé, you have to focus on the strengths of your archetypes to break in and level up. After you build a career you can change everyone’s minds by producing your own film so you can showcase a different side of yourself.
Look at the career of Reese Witherspoon. She started out playing the ingenue, and then she played the”sweet girl-next-door-type”during her twenties and much of her thirties. Then she started producing, and she was able to play a wide variety of characters. But she started with— and maintained— her “sweet” characters fro most of her careers.
And then there are some actors who play their main archetype their whole career, like Seth Rogan. And he works all the time, including as a producer, and he plays the same kind of guy in every movie, and he’s built a career, gained industry respect, and amassed a fortune.
When you play to your strengths and people “get you,” you’ll increase your chances of getting into the rooms you need to get into. Your main archetypes are the key to your success. If get to know them and embrace them, so will everyone else in both the industry and the audience. ?
I’d love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment below 👇🏻
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I’m a multi-award-winning filmmaker & producer, serial entrepreneur, author, and artist.
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