“Who am I?” Now there’s an age-old philosophical question.
Well, once upon a time, in an alternate universe, I was the perfect Peter Pan type: a sprightly, high-spirited tomboy who
Okay, so what does that tell us? Your type can and will eventually change. Age range alone will see to that.
Type can be elusive in this business for a number of reasons. For instance, you may discover yourself growing into a type you’ve never played, or graduating out of a type that once felt the most comfortable to you.
The bottom line is: How you look speaks volumes before you even utter a sound. Your face, your build, already has an entire performance built into it. Your presence, whether you realize it or care to admit it or not, says so much. Hopefully, it’s saying what you intend it to say. (Now there’s the rub.)
As stage actors we’re generally taught we’re supposed to be everything. You’re expected to be as well versed in Shakespeare as Arthur Miller, as comfortable with comedy as you are with pathos, able to tackle Euripides’ Medea and, just as easily Tyler Perry’s Madea. How’s that for a stretch? For what it’s worth, each of these tasks
No wonder so many aspiring young
If you don’t watch much TV, do a quick search of the top 25 shows you may have heard of but have yet to see. We just had the Emmy’s so this should be easy!
This is important for a variety of reasons, not the least of which: pop culture references are used most at auditions to give talent a better idea of what those casting are looking for. (“We’re looking for a Jon Snow meets Don Draper type.” To which I have to say—so am I!)
If you’re at a loss, watch a good eight hours of programming a week for a solid month. For instance: the Today Show,The Big Bang Theory, Ellen, NCIS, The Voice, the evening news (as depressing as that may be), The Simpsons reruns on Fox, something on HGTV, something on the Food Network, TLC, History Channel, Animal Planet, and maybe a little something on IFC (Independent Film Channel) or AMC like Better Call Saul,or The Good Place. The idea is to study a good cross section of material. Look for commercial examples that cover nearly every demographic as well.
When you play back the show, pause and rewind again and again as you go. Take copious notes, regardless of whether you’re familiar with the program or not.
Make note of the following:
- What is the spot for?
- Is the commercial for a product or service you’d find nationwide? Or is it local?
- Do you use the product/service the commercial is promoting?
- Do you wish you used/had the product/service (but maybe can’t afford it—yet)?
- Are you personally opposed to the product/service?
- Would you appear on-camera in the commercial, film, or TV show?
- How many voice-overs are on the spot? Is there more than one?
- Is there an unusual character affectation in one or more of the voices, or is it a more natural delivery?
- What is the overall emotional tone of the spot? Is it solemn? Hopeful? Sarcastic? Playful? Stoic? Confident? Is it edgy? Is there an attitude? Is it witty?
- Does the delivery seem realistic, personable and conversational?
- Is this a commercial voice-over style you feel you could easily play?
- Is this spot airing during a show you watch frequently? Or a program you’ve never seen and maybe might never watch?
- If you’re pursuing on-camera work, observe what the principal actor(s) in the commercial
arewearing. Do you have these styles in your closet to wear to auditions?
- Observe the commercials you got lost in more closely. Make note of what drew you in.
- Does the voice talent’s age seem to coincide with the age the commercial, film, or program is geared to reach? Or is it the opposite?
If like most you stream everything you watch, and you don’t have cable and a DVR, check out iSpot.TV. Of course, you won’t readily discover which commercials play during the shows you prefer, but you will be able to view many current commercials and have the luxury to observe some of the details listed above.
What you’ll likely discover is: being yourself is what is required of you a bulk of the time, and far more interesting than watching you desperately try to be something you’re not. An actor shoehorning themselves into something that doesn’t suit them is an effort to watch and ultimately counterproductive. And why I’m fine with the fact I’ll never play Peter Pan again as long as I live. I can live with that.
Copyright © 2018 by Kate McClanaghan All rights reserved.