We all have types, whether it’s romantically or in terms of our business and/or personal branding. As actors, we must know our types! In fact, we should know them prior to even going in for our headshots, as knowing our “type” will inform our looks that we bring to that particular appointment. Basically, you need to know how to stereotype yourself.
Typing Yourself Out
Hear me out - stereotyping or generalizing other folks is not a normal, everyday practice we should partake in, though I would argue it’s human nature to judge others; doesn’t make it right, but it doesn’t make it untrue, either! That being said, in the acting world - particularly in the film acting world - stereotyping is a good thing. Knowing your type means that you know your brand, and that only helps you play to your strengths.
How to Lean Into Your Look
For example: if you frequently get cast as The Girl Next Door or The Jock, those are character archetypes that you should lean into. Bring outfits to your future headshot appointment that fit whatever your brand is. I often go out for Girl Next Door, Hipster, or Mean Girl roles. If I’m going to a headshot appointment and have booked three looks, I would bring one “main” look that could be dressed up or down with accessories - so, a brightly colored shirt that brings out my eyes that I can add hipster glasses on to (be sure to buy cheap, fake glasses that you can pop the lenses out of!). That way, I’ll get a “normal” headshot and a headshot with my “look” or “brand” in it. In fact, in some headshots I took a few years ago, I’m wearing a bright blue shirt that I bought just for the occasion (I kept the tags on and returned it!) and a leather jacket, so I would have a headshot for a “Mean Girl” character.
To nail down your type, start talking to your teachers, coaches, and fellow actors. Ask what they think your type is. There is legend of a class in Los Angeles, where, on the first day, the actors sit in a circle, and write down the type of each of the other actors. They are told to be brutally honest. While it may be hard to hear what your type is, trust me when I tell you that it will only help your acting career. Knowing is half the battle. The other half is leaning in.