Inside Out: Knowing your typecast

When we buy Coca Cola in a supermarket the first thing we look for is the brand – the label, Coca Cola. If it wasn’t clear to us what the product was we would spend ages in the beer department thinking every brown bottle in the store was a bottle of coke. It’s the same for actors. You need a label, otherwise you could be anyone, anything.

I spent most of my teenage years thinking I would nail all the pretty girl princess-next-door roles, when my typecast actually is gritty, emo-goth lesbian. You must wonder how on earth I could have mixed the two up but trust me, understanding your branding is much harder than it seems.

Try labelling who you are. Not just your skills or how you like to define yourself as a person, but what are you exactly? Are you a Juliet or a Macbeth? It’s very hard judging your own looks and deciding on a branding for yourself, especially if you are not Natalie Portman – it’s hard to accept you’ll be cast as the chubby best friend or the angry punk teenager, but there’s nothing wrong with not being the next Bond babe. The industry needs all types and often the supporting roles are the most fun.

I recently attended a ‘branding’ workshop and the teacher made it clear to me that understanding your ‘product’ is the most important thing about being in the industry, and what makes the difference between an actor who works constantly and with rave success, and one who has three side jobs. Understand how to sell yourself as a product in a hungry industry and you’re halfway there – talent isn’t always the key.

It’s like the supermarket – it’s full of various products which are all viewed by the customers, in this case the agents, casting directors, producers etc. If you are a can of tuna but try to fit yourself in on the baked beans shelf you’ll never get picked. But if you are on the tuna shelf and make yourself really shiny chances are they might put you in their basket.

It’s so important knowing which type you are to save yourself – and possible employers – precious time. It will certainly help you understand lots of “nos” if you discover you’ve put yourself up for parts that were just wrong for you. It’s brutal, yes, but it’s all about types. If they want a blonde Bond babe they won’t hire a brunette hipster because she’s a better actress. They want their type just as you don’t want to settle for Philadelphia chocolate when you asked for Nutella.

Image by: DeusXFlorida

Camilla Gurtler

Camilla is a director and writer originally from Denmark, now living in London. She trained on the Young Directors' Programme with StoneCrabs Theatre Company and is currently doing her MA in Directing at Drama Centre.