A New Type

Photography by Ash Crow

For my final class in this round of Barry Shapiro's On-Camera Commercials Course, Barry asked each of the dozen or so actors attending to cast judgments on each other. Having spent five weeks together acting and reading commercial copy, we has a pretty decent sense of which roles the others might play well, which products they might sell, and generally how they come across,  personality-wise, in a first impression.

In this exercise, each of us stood in front of the group, taking turns as the whole class scrutinized and wrote on little pieces of paper which roles they thought we would best play. Some received the types of "next top model" and "quirky tech girl," while others were told "goofball frat boy" or "serial killer." Obviously, these types aren't necessarily who they are in real life, but who they might portray easily.

When I saw that my pieces of paper read "informational, professional, uptight woman" and "tough, no-nonsense CEO," I have to admit I felt a tinge of denial and disappointment. I didn't mind "overworked office lady" or "nutritional yoga products," but eventually I had to admit that I come off as a more serious actor who can excel in types that frankly, less people seek to play. In comedy, I could do the more serious types like Angela from "The Office," and drama comes very easily to me. From the scenes in my demo reel, this information should not surprise me at all.

In life and in acting, our perceptions of ourselves often color what we pursue. If inaccurate, success might wait in the wings for a long time until we come to face the way the world sees us - and perhaps the way we truly interact with others. Although I appreciate that one member of the class saw me as a "nurturing young mother," I suspect I will pursue the characters who live more savory lives than sweet. From now on, I'm breaking away from the ingenues and the "girl next door" to something a little more real and honest. Seriously.