In the LA Times this morning I read an article about typecasting. The article highlighted some of the hundreds of schools, classes and groups devoted to helping aspiring actors in the city. The article focused on programs which teach actors and actresses who haven’t had their big break to embrace their “type” as their best asset. It is, according to Bonnie Gillespie, their “bull’s-eye” – the one thing they do best by just walking into the room.
This made sense to me. We all make a first impression that, correctly or incorrectly, defines who we are. That first impression will determine if there is or isn’t a next step in the relationship – whether it be social or business. We all do it. Someone is walking toward us and we, based only on what we see, jump to conclusions. The first, and perhaps most critical, is – is this person a danger to me? If we determine they are, we take certain actions. If we determine they are safe we go on to the next series of questions – are they attractive, are they young, are they old, are they educated, are they wealthy, are they someone we’d like, etc. It all happens in a split second.
The article described some of the “types” the students identified with. They included – Hunk, Hippie, Druggie. It becomes the lynchpin if asked ” so tell me about yourself.” Emily Alpert, the reporter for the LA Times, provided some examples of answers to this question which were derived through type casting. I particularly liked, “I’m a tempestuous tomboy, fiery and wild. Hanging out with me is like getting blackout drunk.”
The types are not determined by the students themselves but by feedback from their fellow students and in some cases, strangers on the street asked to participate by giving unbiased feedback. A glimpse at the list of characteristics they have to chose from include: cynical, outspoken, aggressive, ugly, shy, earthy, unpretentious, scary, proper, awkward, quick-witted and wholesome. The results of the feedback allows each student to embrace their “miracle of identity.”
I can see how being given insight into how you are perceived would be empowering. It got me thinking about my type. I want to be sexy and smart mouthed. I doubt given a feedback card anyone would check off either of those for me. I would be curious what people would say. I can guess it would be sweet, nice, pretty, petite, confident and youthful. As much as I want to get away from some of those adjectives, I can’t. They are my miracle of identity. Perhaps it is time to embrace those. Maybe accepting my type will, as with these acting students, lead to greater success.
I should clarify. Learning your type is not the end, it’s just the beginning. Students are told to brand themselves with their type. They need to make sure their wardrobe, their language, their grooming all support the type – the way a corporation will make sure all their actions support and are consistent with their brand.
I’ve been unhappy with my wardrobe and I think now it is because I buy clothes that fit the type I want to be and not the type I am. Then I don’t wear those clothes because they aren’t me. I need to stop buying clothes that fit a fantasy rather than my type.
I don’t have a class to help me realize my type so I will, based on things I’ve heard people say about me to others and what they have told me directly, decide on my type. I will be classy, conservative, nice, sporty, confident and competent. Not a sexy, flirtatious, clever, witty, funny or enticing in the group. Oh well.
If you’re interested in reading the article – go to LATimes.com – Calendar section. Also Bonnie Gillespie offers information about type casting at – BonnieGillespie.com/blog/