5 Types of Acting Roles (Plus How To Find the Right One for You)

Despite your talent and versatility in the world of TV and film, you have a type when it comes to acting on camera, and probably more than one. An actor’s type can be determined by the variety of roles they can consistently play. Of course, you can take on roles outside of your “type,” and occasionally, castings will be made that are not typical of you. You want more than sporadic chances of getting the part when choosing your headshots or prioritizing auditions. Knowing your acting style will help you land roles and maintain employment.

Your physical appearance is a big part of your type. Children who are tall for their age often have roles that are too old for them. As well, younger roles are frequently cast for smaller-framed actors of all ages. The blonde pretty girl may play the silly blonde cheerleader. Type-casting, which refers to using an actor in a role that requires traits similar to those of the performer, is when the blonde pretty actress frequently plays the silly blonde cheerleader. The extraordinary and gifted Brittany Ross, one of our acting coaches, has achieved great success by being aware of her personality types.

Brittany is a skilled, educated, diligent, and uniquely gifted actress who gives her all to every role, so it goes without saying that she can do more than just play these types. An actor’s type is not a limit. It is a tool, and being aware of it will help ensure that your efforts in pursuing your acting goals are successful.

One of my students, Clayton, is big for his age. His agent sent him out for bully-type roles after he showcased and signed with a talent agency because she believed he would perform best in that role initially. He gave every audition his all, and casting directors were impressed by his character and abilities. Yes, he was cast as a tough, pint-sized bouncer. He was also portrayed as the victim of bullying who triumphs (see Clayton’s story and interview here). Clayton continues to take acting classes for children in Los Angeles to hone his abilities and broaden the range of roles he can consistently play.

I highly recommend embracing your types. Take advantage of typecasting, particularly early in your career. Our Los Angeles acting school assists students in identifying the kinds of acting roles they will probably play. As your earning power increases over time, you can and will diversify your game and play against the grain.

Young actors and the parents of young actors should consider apparent age when choosing an acting style. To help determine your (or your child’s) apparent age, it’s a great idea to look at a young actor’s peers or classmates. Children who are a foot taller than the rest of their classmates can anticipate that others will mistake them for being older. Average-height boys and girls can still appear older or younger than their peers if they have baby faces, higher- or lower-pitched voices, or more or less muscle (slight vs. “filled-out”).

Tom Welling, an actor best known for portraying the young Superman on the CW network’s “Smallville,” was 24 when he was chosen to play a 14-year-old high school freshman. Tom was about ten years older than the role he had been given. His softer appearance (at least to his face) was beneficial. He also benefited from the fact that he was portraying a high school freshman who also happened to be Superman, so his physique and height were appropriate for the part despite the fact that his actual age was far beyond that of a high schooler.

Your actor type also includes your apparent ethnicity. Most frequently, you’ll be cast in roles that reflect the race you most closely resemble. Fair, blonde, and blue-eyed ethnic Latinos may not be selected for positions that require Hispanics. You may be cast as a completely different ethnicity. I am aware of Korean actors who are frequently cast in Native American roles. The need for “ethnically ambiguous” actors to play characters with a mixed or ambiguous ethnic and cultural heritage is also very prevalent today. He looks like Tom Welling, according to casting directors for the CW’s Smallville, but what does a male alien orphan from Krypton look like, anyway?

The bullies, bad guys, and serial killers are played by some of the most kind people you’ll ever meet. As soon as they appear on screen, their appearance and demeanor make them look bad. The actors I’ve worked with, however, struggle mightily to appear mean. Once more, appearance is the reason, but attitude is also expressed through our faces, voices, and body language. What makes one person in an acting class appear arrogant while another appears shy? What makes one person in a dark alley seem like a victim while another person in that same alley seems creepy?

You need to understand how those around you perceive you in order to comprehend your apparent attitude. At the 3-2-1- Acting School in Los Angeles, we practice improvisation through the exercise “I See You As.” One student from the class stands in the center of the circle and addresses each actor, saying, “I see you as…friendly, angry, shy,” etc. Our acting students enjoy playing this game and learn a lot about how others perceive them as well as how changes in attitude, posture, and expression affect how others perceive them.

Before you even arrive at the audition, casting directors can see you in the role they’re casting thanks to good headshots that highlight the types you fit best. Keep in mind that an actor type is made up of both your attitude and your physical appearance. They want to see whatever they see in the headshot during the audition. Therefore, if you sent your brooding, gloomy appearance to a project, be sure that’s the attitude you bring with you when you enter. If you submitted your best smile, flash those pearly whites.

You’ll notice the terminology used to describe various roles when you examine scripts or breakdowns. These evocative adjectives and vivacious nouns can also assist you in determining your best fit. Knowing your types will especially help you improve the focus, effectiveness, and success of your self-submissions.

Start by identifying your type by considering words that best describe you. Ask your friends to describe you in four words. Make a list. Or, to get you started, check out this fantastic list (FREE PDF download). Knowing your types will make it easier for you to display those qualities during auditions so casting directors (and directors!) can see them. Therefore, if you’re playing the bully, the annoying blonde cheerleader, the bad guy, or the teacher’s pet, have fun with the role because you get to do what you love—act!

How to find your preferred type of acting role

Before applying for auditions, it can be useful to think about what kind of acting role you might fit with best because there are many different kinds. You can follow the steps listed below to locate the kind of acting role you prefer:

1. Consider your physical appearance

Physical appearance can have a significant impact on the roles an actor gets because a large part of an actor’s job involves being observed by production teams and, eventually, audience members. For instance, a tall, muscular actor may have a better chance of landing roles as villains, athletes, or superheroes who are meant to be physically intimidating. When considering your physical appearance, think about the following characteristics:

2. Look for roles in different types of media

After considering your own appearance, start consuming media to look for roles that seem to reflect your personality. You can accomplish this by watching motion pictures and television programs, as well as by going to live performances of plays, musicals, and art installations. Look for actors in other performances who share your physical characteristics or who employ your acting style. For instance, you might think about applying for roles if you notice that actors who appear to play investigative-type roles, like detectives or police, match your speaking tone and personality.

3. Consider your previous acting roles

Think about the roles you’ve played in the past to get a better idea of your acting style. This can assist you in identifying trends in the types of roles you receive and the roles in which you seem to perform the best. You might succeed as a background actor in film projects or as a performer in front of live audiences, for instance, if you review your acting history and find that the majority of your prior roles were in the ensemble of stage productions.

The same reasoning can be used when considering character types, such as whether you’ve primarily played villain roles, clever roles, or comedic relief roles.

4. Ask your peers

You can also ask your peers for advice on what kind of actor you might be. If you have friends or family who are actors, they may be able to provide specific guidance about how they perceive your acting and performances in relation to the entertainment industry.

Friends or family who have seen you perform before in various roles can be a great resource as well because they can provide feedback on which roles they believe you were most successful or impressive in. Afterward, you can use this knowledge to look for jobs with a similar scope in the future.

5. Attend an acting class

Taking an acting class can be beneficial as you try to determine your acting style. An instructor with specialized knowledge of the entertainment industry and certain types of acting is typically present in an acting class. This means that enrolling in a class and asking a qualified instructor about what roles might best suit your abilities can help you determine the kind of acting that you excel in from the perspective of industry professionals.

5 types of acting roles

Five of the most typical acting roles are listed below:

1. Background role

A background role is one where the actor usually moves around the scene’s background and interacts with other background actors. Background roles are also known as extras or atmosphere actors by some actors. These are typically non-speaking roles, so the actors don’t memorize or recite lines for them. In movies, TV shows, and live performances starring large ensembles like musical theater productions, background roles frequently appear.

2. Cameo

A production team will often write a part with a famous actor in mind, which is known as a cameo role. These roles frequently serve a particular celebrity and occasionally serve to make a specific joke or reference. For instance, the creator of a superhero comic book might make a cameo appearance in the movie adaptation of the comic book. Cameo appearances frequently have brief on-screen times because they typically take place in just one or a few episodes.

3. Recurring character

A smaller part that typically appears in several episodes of a television program is known as a recurring character role. The main distinction between recurring characters and side characters in a show is that recurring characters are not members of the main cast, whereas side characters are. Recurring characters frequently share the same number of lines as side characters. Additionally, recurring characters could show up for a few episodes before disappearing for others before reappearing later in the season or series.

4. Side character

A supporting role that occasionally follows its own plot is played by a side character, also known as a co-star or day player. These kinds of roles can be found in movies, plays, and television programs. Compared to lead characters, side characters typically have fewer lines of dialogue and appear in fewer scenes. There are also some side character roles that serve a particular function, like providing comedic relief or introducing a love interest for one of the main characters.

5. Series regular

A series regular is a cast member who consistently appears in a television program throughout its run. Most of the time, these actors have contracts that guarantee them work for a specific amount of time or episodes. Although many series regulars play lead characters, it is also possible for regulars to play supporting roles. Being on set for the majority of the filming can require series regulars to frequently memorize lines and movements.

Figuring Out Your Acting Type – Make Typecasting Work


What are different types of acting roles?

5 types of acting roles
  1. Background role. A background role is one where the actor usually moves around the scene’s background and interacts with other background actors.
  2. Cameo. …
  3. Recurring character. …
  4. Side character. …
  5. Series regular.

What are the four key types of actors?

The four main categories of actors are personality actors who carry their persona from role to role, actors who deviate from their persona, chameleon actors who can play a variety of unrelated roles, and non-professional actors who give stories realism. You just studied 15 terms!.

What are the 5 of acting?

The Stanislavski Method, The Chekhov Acting Technique, Method Acting, Meisner Acting Technique, and Practical Aesthetics Acting Technique are the five main types of acting classes and techniques.

What are the different levels of actors?

Think about where you’re at, and instead of despairing, look at the steps ahead of you, and which direction you should be travelling.
  • The Training Actor. Every actor’s career should begin with training.
  • The Emerging Actor. This is a great phase. …
  • The Hustling Actor. …
  • The Working Actor. …
  • The Celebrity Actor.

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