Acting Basics: Find Your Authentic Casting Type | Ed Darling | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Acting Basics: Find Your Authentic Casting Type

teacher avatar Ed Darling, Actor, Speaker & Creator

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (30m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class Project: Overview

    • 3. Your Job as an Actor

    • 4. What Exactly is a Casting Type?

    • 5. Class Project: Part 1

    • 6. How a Casting Type Gets You Work

    • 7. Class Project: Part 2

    • 8. Turning Flaws Into Features

    • 9. Class Project: Part 3

    • 10. Key Takeaways & Conclusion

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Class Overview:

Are you an aspiring actor looking to build a career in film, theatre and TV?

In this short class, I'll teach you to show up as a professional in the industry, and fast-track your career by honing in on your unique and authentic casting type.

Here's some of what you'll learn:

  • What your job really is as a professional actor.
  • A clear understanding of how the acting industry really works
  • Exactly what a casting type is (using real-life examples)

  • How a clear casting type propels your career.
  • The big mistakes most actors make when guessing their type.
  • How to look at yourself objectively & turn your "flaws" into features.

And finally, in our Class Project…

I’ll walk you through a 3-step process to discover your own authentic casting type, using feedback from the community right here on Skillshare.

Why Casting Types?

As a working actor of 10 years, I've learned first-hand that having the wrong casting type (or on at all) can cost you years of wasted time and money.

Your casting type is the foundation upon which the rest of your professional profile is built. It informs your headshots, showreel and even the work you audition for. 

So getting it right is critical, and the earlier you do so, the quicker you start getting seen for the right roles - and building your career.

About Your Teacher:

I’m Ed, a professional actor with 10 years’ experience starring in award-winning film, professional theatre, TVCs and Voice-over. I’ve performed professionally in the UK, USA and Europe; and trained at the Manchester School of Acting.

I entered the acting industry with zero skills, experience or contacts, and along the way I’ve had to learn many lessons (often the hard way!)

The acting industry is notoriously complex, competitive, and difficult for “outsiders” to get into. 

So in this course, I’ll be distilling my 10 years of professional experience to give you everything you need to know about starting your career the right way, and marketing yourself effectively by finding your authentic casting type. 

Who This Course is For: 

If you’re brand new to acting or still finding your feet, this course will teach you fundamentals of the “business side” of the acting industry, and allow you to understand your casting type BEFORE rushing into headshots, showreels, etc.

If you’re already a working actor, I recommend doing this course as soon as possible to refresh your ideas, and ensure your casting type is accurate, authentic, and working for you. 

The principles in this class can be applied to any acting industry, so whether you’re working in the UK, Europe, USA, or elsewhere, implementing this advice will benefit your career.

Necessary Skills / Terminology List:

No advanced knowledge or skills are required to take this course, but we’ll be using certain acting terminology that you’ll need to be familiar with. Here’s a quick list to help you out:

Agent - Someone who works with you as an actor, to find you auditions and submit you for castings.

Casting Call - A brief description sent out to agents and actors by casting directors, letting them know about specific roles they are looking to cast and inviting them to submit.

Casting Director - A casting director is responsible for finding and auditioning actors for a production. They are usually hired by the production company and work closely with agents.

Showreel - Short clips of an actor's work, used to highlight their talent and casting type.

Headshot - Professional head-and-shoulder images which actors use to market themselves.

Submissions - When an agent puts forward one of their actors for a casting call.

Download Your Worksheets & Say Hello!

In the Project & Resources tab, you'll find a 3 page PDF worksheet available to download. This contains a complete guide to our class project, and instructions on how to complete each part of the 3-step process to finding your casting type.

(We’ll be walking through this together during the class, but have your worksheet downloaded to use as a guide)

You can also use the Discussions tab to ask any questions, introduce yourself, or share any thoughts or feedback you have on the class.

Are you ready to find your authentic castign type and start building a succesful acting career?

Let's get started!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Ed Darling

Actor, Speaker & Creator


Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: As actors, we often think that being versatile is the key to success. We want to be able to take on any role, any character, and make it believable and memorable. But in the competitive business of acting, highlighting our versatility doesn't always help us. Instead, what we need is to define our niche, find our authentic casting type, and then market ourselves in a way that agents and casting directors can clearly understand. Welcome to this class on finding your authentic casting type. My name is Ed and I've been a professional actor for over 10 years. In that time, I performed in theaters around the UK, Europe, and the United States. I've starred in award-winning films and worked professionally on both commercials and in voice-over. During my time, I've learned many lessons and definitely made many mistakes and these classes are my way of distilling those 10 years of real-life experience as a working actor into the exact training which I needed when I was starting out. I chose to start with this class on casting types because it's the foundation upon which everything else is built. Most actors want to dive straight into headshots, show reels, and auditions, but before all of that, it's crucial that you understand exactly what product you are trying to market. Because if you don't know what you're selling, no agents or casting directors will be buying. In this course, I'll be teaching you exactly what a casting-type is and six attributes from casting breakdowns that make up your type. How your casting type helps you to get seen for auditions and get ahead in the industry. The big mistakes that most actors, including me, make when we're trying to guess our own casting-types, how to take our perceived flaws and turn them into our biggest features. This is really important when it comes to owning our genuine casting-type. Finally, in our cast project, I'll be taking you through a three-step process to figure out exactly what your authentic type is by utilizing real feedback from your fellow classmates right here on Skillshare. As well as this, I'll be sharing with you my own best tips and insights about how to really build your own acting career. The casting-type process that we'll be doing in today's class is one that very few actors get to do. By doing this now, you'll not only be setting yourself up for a successful career, but you'll be potentially saving years of wasted time and money when it comes to getting the right headshots, the right show reels, agents, and so on and so forth. Whether you're a complete beginner to acting or already working professionally, by the end of this class you'll have a much better idea of what you bring to the industry, a more accurate understanding of how things really work, and a clearly defined casting-type, which you can immediately use to start marketing yourself correctly and getting the roles that are perfect for you. I'm really excited to get started. We've got lots of interesting things to cover, including some honest and slightly embarrassing stories from my own journey, which I hope you'll appreciate. In the next video, I'm going to give you a brief overview of how the class project will work and then once that is done, we will jump straight into the first lesson. It's great to have you here. Let's get started. 2. Class Project: Overview: In today's class project, I'll be taking you through a three-step process to find your authentic casting time. To help you with this, I've created a PDF worksheet which has prompts and reminders for each of the three steps. Please print this off after the video and have it ready to use. For now, here's a brief overview of what we'll be doing. In Step 1, you'll be completing a self-review using your worksheet. This first step is about understanding where you see yourself as an actor and the type of roles you believe you could play. In Step 2, you'll be enlisting the help of friends and family to get a second point of view on your own opinions and then add their own ideas into the mix. Finally, in Step 3, I'll be inviting you to share a headshot or selfie onto the projects tab right here on Skillshare, where you get the most precious feedback of all the unbiased, objective, and specific data on how other people who don't know you or anything about you view your casting time. This last step is crucial as it's going to give you the closest idea of how agents and casting directors are going to see you in the industry. Now, with your own opinions, those of your friends and family, and your fellow classmates here on Skillshare all align, you're going to find an accurate and honest starting point for your own time. Which isn't based on ego or guesswork, but on genuine research and feedback. In a few minutes we're going to dive into everything you need to know about your casting time. But before that, I want to make a wider point to you about what your job is as an actor. That might sound obvious, but you'd be surprised at how many people will have this back to front. Take a moment and ask yourself, what is your job as an actor? Then head over to the next lesson and we'll compare notes. 3. Your Job as an Actor: What is your job as an actor? To learn lines? To give a great performance? To be famous? People have very different ideas of what it means to be an actor and what our job actually is. Before we go any further in today's class, let's just clarify this key point. The acting industry sits within the broader entertainment industry. We are in the business of entertaining people. Our customers are our audience, whether they are in a cinema, at the theater or sat home watching Netflix. Our job as actors and the job of everyone else who we've worked within production, from the lighting technicians, to the director, to the producer, to the writer, to the script supervisor, to the casting director, is to serve our audience by telling an engaging and believable story. That is it, that is our job to serve the audience by telling an engaging and believable story. The media and the way Hollywood represents it, we have this idea of act as being the most important thing, but really we know the audience is the paying customer and we work for them. When it comes to our job as actors, remember that it's not about who you want to be or the roles you want to perform. First and foremost, it's about telling stories in an engaging and believable way and making it all about our audience. Now the engaging part comes down to your talent and performance as an actor, which is for another class. In order to be believable and therefore allow our audience to be captivated by the story and transported into the world that we are creating, we need to understand what we have to offer as actors. That starts with knowing our authentic casting time. In the next lesson, we'll be clarifying exactly what a casting type is and looking at some real life examples. Once that's done, we'll be starting the first step of today's class projects. Please make sure you have your worksheet ready and I'll see you in the next lesson. 4. What Exactly is a Casting Type?: Playing to type, playing against type, being typecast. All of this industry terminology can seem confusing, but it's really talking about the same thing. Your type is quite literally the characters that you already look like, the roles that the real everyday version of you is most naturally suited to playing. Imagine you rolled out of bed, put on your typical clothes, and walked into an open audition. What kind of role would you be likely to be casting? If you get cast in that role, it's called playing to type and if you keep getting cast in those roles, it's called being typecast. Let's look at some famous examples that we've all heard of. Here we have Ryan Reynolds, who I'm sure you will all know. Based on appearance alone, you might say 30s to 40s, handsome male lead. But his personality and his energy is really quite silly, even sarcastic. We might say instead, the quirky, handsome guy, although geeky, attractive leading man. This is exactly the type that Ryan Reynolds plays in the majority of his work. Here we have Lena Headey, who stars in Game of Thrones playing the Ice Queen Cersei Lannister. This is definitely playing to her type. She just has this look and expression that says strong, regal warrior queen. The fact that she's trained in fighting and archery probably helps with this too. Final example, Samuel L. Jackson. Now, he has this intensity about him, doesn't he? The star. You get the feeling that he doesn't suffer fools, and he speaks his mind. Now he doesn't always play the villain, but we could describe his type as the bad *** with a temper or the no nonsense action lead. Again, in the majority of his roles, this is exactly the type that he is playing. Now you may have noticed some themes in how I was describing those casting types just then. I often mentioned things like appearance and personality. But in total, there are actually six different attributes which can affect your casting type. Let's look at each of these in a bit more detail. Firstly, we have gender. Obviously this plays a big part in your broadcasting type. Then we have your playing age as the next thing. This, typically speaking, should be no more than 10 years. You could, for instance, say 20 to 30 or 40 to 50. Next is your physicality and appearance. Are you tall, short, muscular, skinny? What's your hair type, your eyes, your voice quality? Think about it this way. Almost everything about you says something about your casting type. Next up is your role-type. From everything that we've just covered so far, gender, age range, and appearance, what would be the stereotypical roles that you might suit? For instance, you could be the stay-at-home mom, the grandparent, the student, or the police officer. These are the broad character types that you can easily be slotted into. Next is your personality. If your role-type was the girlfriend, are you the upbeat, bubbly girlfriend or the quiet and brooding type? That was a bit of my acting there, hope you liked it. Personality includes any descriptive words that describe your energy and your temperament, so things like intellectual, sexy, shy, quirky, aggressive. Finally, the last thing is your unique skills or experience. For instance, if you have worked in the military, if you can ride horses or you can perform magic tricks, then specific skills like these are also worth considering because they can often play into a specific casting type. That is the six attributes that can inform your casting type. Now the reason we use these six specific things is that they are what most commonly appear on casting briefs or breakdowns. In other words, when a casting director is describing what kind of actor they need for a specific role, they'll do so using exactly these six attributes. Let's look at typical casting brief that you would see for a role in TV, film, or a commercial. Samantha, female, 30s, attractive and smart, looks like she could be a lawyer or similar working professional. Ideally blond or light hair and with a neutral British accent. Must be able to play tennis to a high standard. Notice how that included each of the six casting attributes we just mentioned. We have gender, age range, appearance, personality, and we even got a specific skill mentioned in the tennis. You're hopefully starting to understand why having a clearly defined casting type is so important. Now if you're a famous A-lister, as well as frequently playing to type as we saw in the examples, you will also have plenty of opportunities to break type and play a non-obvious role. Samuel Jackson did this in the film Unbreakable and Lena Headey did it in Imagine Me & You. But if you're just starting out or still working on your career, these opportunities are going to be much fewer and further between and you won't have an established brand yet. What we need to do instead is narrow down your niche as much as possible and give you a crystal clear casting time. In the next lesson, we'll begin this process by completing Step 1 of today's class project. But first, let's just summarize what we've learned so far. [MUSIC] Your casting type is quite literally the roles which you are most naturally suited to. It's based on the six key attributes: your gender, playing age, appearance, personality, and unique skills. Every actor has a casting type, but the earlier you are in your career, the more important it is to know clearly where your type fits. Now that we've explained what a casting type is, it's time to start peeling back the layers and figuring out where your own authentic type sits. Join me in the next lesson to complete step 1 of today's class project. [MUSIC] 5. Class Project: Part 1: In this lesson, we're going to complete Step 1 of the class project by completing a short self-assessment on how you view your own casting time. Using page one on your worksheet, I'd like you to write down your own ideas about where you see your casting type in relation to the six key attributes that we just mentioned. This is going to give you a really good baseline which you'll then be able to add to and to refine later in the class during Steps 2 and 3. Try to answer the questions on your worksheet as honestly as you can, but also please remember that at this stage, there isn't really any right or wrong answers. The more ideas you can get down on paper, the more you'll have to play with and explore later on. In the next lesson, we'll be drilling down even further into why your casting type is so important as a professional actor and how it helps you both get seen by agents and casting directors and to build a successful career. If you do need any help completing Step 1 of the class project, then please just click the "Discussions" tab below where you will be able to leave any questions and I'll be able to reply to you. Once you've finished, head over to the next lesson and we'll pick things up from there. 6. How a Casting Type Gets You Work: Welcome back. I hope you got on okay with the first step of our class projects and you should now have clarified your own ideas on roughly what you're casting type is. Like I said at the start of the class, as actors, we all want to be versatile. That's probably what drew you to acting in the first place. The idea of being able to step out of reality and become different people living vastly different lives. Now, it's great to be versatile when it comes to our performances. But in terms of the business side of acting, what we really need is specificity. In fact, we want to find out what box suits us best and then use that to market ourselves to the rest of the industry. How exactly does a clear casting type help us? Firstly, it gets us in the room for auditions, and secondly, it gets us the right type of work. As you probably know, the acting industry is extremely competitive and there are often hundreds of actors in the running for a single role. Despite this, casting directors, producers, agents, and other industry professionals usually have incredibly tight deadlines to work to and so they need to quickly understand who you are and where you can be placed. To put this in perspective when reviewing actors for a role, casting directors will often have a matter of seconds to consider your head shot and usually less than a minute to watch your show real. Without a clear casting type to help them understand what we're offering, we only make their job of casting goes even harder. Let's look at how this plays out in the real-world by taking our actors hats off and putting on the hat of a casting director. I don't think casting directors really wear a hats but it sounded good. Imagine we've just been tasked with creating a brand new TV series. One of the roles is of a police officer and from the 52 actors who were submitted, we've narrowed it down to just two profiles to choose from. Actor A is Mr. versatile, and his profile shows this off. His head shots credits and real showing us a vicious gangster, a kind and comedic father and a stern teacher. Now, this is all very impressive. But can we guarantee that he'll be the perfect fit for our police officer role? Actor B has found his niche and knows that his casting type is around professional, serious, and strong. His show will includes him playing a businessman and night security guard and also a police officer. Each role has got a similar energy. It's all congruent around his casting type and he plays them all very convincingly. We can look at his profile and very quickly work out that he is a solid match to the role. Now this is a bit of an obvious example to make my point, but you can see how the realities of the casting process with a huge amount of actors applying and the very limited time available to casting directors means that a solid casting type gives us a huge advantage. In other words, versatility and variety work against us, specificity and simplicity work for us. Now you're authentic casting type will be as close as possible to who you actually are as an individual. Therefore, your casting type helps you to realistically and reliably perform the roles that are exactly suited to you. For instance, if you're someone who is naturally quiet or shy, it's going to be much easier and more natural for you to play characters that have those qualities. Your performance is going to be more honest and more nuanced because basically you've experienced feeling and behaving this way firsthand. Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, but Ed isn't the whole point of acting to change ourselves, to be different, to play other people? Yes, absolutely and there's no problem with playing against your type. I love playing the villain, even though in real life I look about scary as your local coffee barista. But remember in the business side of acting, we need to play to our strengths. We need to be strategic. If you're casting type helps you to be seen and cast in specific roles and then you do a brilliant job in those performances because they fit you, more offers are going to come and soon enough you'll get opportunities to break your type and show off your versatility. It's for these two reasons that our casting type is so important when it comes to showing up as a professional actor. Firstly, because it helps producers, agents, casting directors, etc, to quickly and efficiently understand who we are and what we can offer, which leads to more auditions and more work. Secondly, because when we get work that is right for us, we're more likely to do a great job and get even more offers. But if casting types are really that important, why does so many actors get this critical part of their career all wrong? In the next lesson, we're going to address what is usually the biggest obstacle to accurately defining your own casting type ourselves. This is one of the reasons why actors gets stuck without work and then give up on their dreams. Once you're ready, I'll see you in the next lesson. 7. Class Project: Part 2: We're now going to complete Step 2 of the class project by enlisting the help of either some friends or family to give us their opinions on our casting type and to see if their thoughts and ideas align with our own. On Page 2 of your worksheets, you'll find more instructions on how to do this and the type of questions you can ask, as well as some space to jot down any feedback that you do get. If you don't have anyone around to discuss this with in person, I recommend sending your headshot or a picture to your friends and family by either email, WhatsApp, or Messenger, and asking for their feedback this way. This is a really important step to ensure that the casting type that you decide on isn't just based on your own opinions. Check the worksheet for prompts and take a few minutes after the lesson to ask people for their thoughts. It's also worth saying that you might receive some feedback that you weren't expecting, and maybe even you don't like. That's okay. Because in the next lesson, we'll be looking at another major issue that many actors face, judging ourselves negatively and how we can turn our perceived flows into our greatest features. Good luck with Step 2 of the class projects. Try to be open-minded about any feedback you get. I'll see you in the next lesson. 8. Turning Flaws Into Features: Actors or not, we are all human and we all have things about ourselves that we don't like. People can get really hung up on having too big of this or too small of that. Add to that, working in a competitive and appearance focus industry, and that we're performing on camera for all the world to see our imperfections magnified on screen, and is it any wonder that we can become overly critical of ourselves as actors. I used to be really insecure about both my teeth, which was slightly crooked, and my nose, which I thought was too big. Now, I've become really self-conscious when having to speak on camera. Particularly, I'd be worrying about whether my teeth were being lit up the right way, whether you could see that they were crooked, and needless to say, not only was this affecting my self esteem, but also my ability to perform. Fast-forward to now, I eventually decided that I would change my teeth, so I paid for braces, had them straightened, and now honestly, I no longer feel any of that same self-consciousness. It was the right decision for me to take. My nose, which at one point I used to agonize over, I literally never worry about even for a second. In fact, I haven't even thought about it for years until making this course. If had opted to change it, which is quite dramatic surgery, I would have almost certainly regretted that decision. Whenever issue or insecurity you face, there were only ever two options that do us any good. Either we accept it or we change it. Again, this is about being really honest with ourselves. If there's something in your appearance that you're really not happy about that's deeply affecting your quality of life and that you absolutely cannot accept, then maybe it's the right choice to change it. But make sure you thoroughly think it through first because so much of the time, what we think of as flaws can actually be our best features. Now, it's easy to think that perfection is the norm enacting and that it's almost a prerequisite to have a strong jawline and perfect skin. But it's worth reminding ourselves that plenty of successful actors out there have what we might call flaws, which for them, have become a defining part of a unique look, and even of the casting time. Forest Whitaker, for example, his casting type includes the gentle giant and also the kind of menacing street-wise roles. He famously has what's called a lazy eye on one one side, which many people would assume would make it hard for him to succeed as an actor. But which actually has given him a unique, uneven, and iconic look in many incredible roles. This is Tommy Flanagan, a Scottish actor known for roles in Gladiator, Sons of Anarchy, recently in Westworld. Now, he got his facial scars after being attacked in his 20s, and honestly, you couldn't have blamed him for ending his career there. But he actually went on to build an incredible career. Again, those imperfections, those scars have become a feature that directors actually seek him out for. To summarize, if there is something that you really want to change and you can, then maybe that is the right choice for you. But don't ever be too quick to judge your own imperfections or to assume that they will hold you back. Thinking about our casting type and especially asking other people for their opinions about how we look can sometimes be an uncomfortable process to go through. But often if we can accept the things that we don't like about ourselves and really own them, then those perceived flaws can become our greatest features, and even something that we are remembered for. With that said, it's time to wrap everything up and complete today's class project. Gather your thoughts, take a moment to reflect on your own features and what makes you special, and when you're ready, head over to the next lesson and I'll see you there. 9. Class Project: Part 3: Right, it's time to finish our class project. By now, you should have completed step 1 which was conducting a self-assessment of your casting type, and step 2, by asking some family or friends for a second opinion. Now it's time to get feedback from the community of other actors right here on Skillshare. Click the project and resources tab, which is just below this video, and there you will see all the headshots posted by other class members and also be able to share your own. If you don't yet have professional headshots, then don't worry, a selfie will be fine as long as it's a neutral head and shoulder's image. Along with your headshot, share with us any thoughts or ideas about your casting type that you've already had, to see if other class members here agree, or if they have different new suggestions. As I mentioned before, this last step is perhaps the most important because getting as many outside opinions as possible will help you to drill even deeper down into precisely what you're casting type is and also to understand whether your headshot is giving the right impression. If you need any further guidance, I've included a step-by-step guide on page 3 of your worksheet. I can't wait to see your headshots, and I'll do my best to give you my own personal feedback too. When you're ready, let's wrap up today's class by summarizing everything we've learned so far and the key takeaways that I'd really like you to remember. 10. Key Takeaways & Conclusion: Let's recap some of the key points from this class. Your casting type is the type of roles and characters which you are most suited to playing. It's based on the six key characteristics that most commonly come up on casting briefs which is your gender, playing age, physical appearance, role types, personality, and unique skills. Understanding your casting type is crucial to your success as an actor, because it allows you to market yourself effectively, which enables agents, casting directors, and other industry professionals to clearly understand what you can offer and where they can place you. All of this leads to a greater chance of getting seen for auditions and to a more natural and authentic performance when you do get cast. Meaning we open ourselves up to even more work by being reliable and effective actors. Ultimately basing our casting type on simply our own point of view is very risky, as we don't often see ourselves as others do. So getting as much objective feedback as possible is key to helping you find the most accurate answers. It's also important to remember that we're not chasing perfection, we're looking for reality. That often what we think of as flaws could actually be our greatest features. Remember once you have your casting type figured out, you want to use this to directly inform all of your other career choices, including getting the right head shots, creating a standout show real, and choosing the right work to go from. Now if you want to learn more about this next step in your acting career journey, I'm planning a brand new class on this very soon. Watch out for that right here on Skillshare. For now, I really hope that today's class has helped to debunk some casting type myths and give you a head start in building your own successful acting career. If you haven't already, please share your head shot in the Project tab to receive your personalized feedback and complete the class project. If you have any questions, you can ask them in the Discussion tab and I'll do my best to get back to you as soon as possible. Finally, if you enjoyed this class, please consider leaving a review. Thank you so much for joining me today. I really look forward to hopefully working with him again. I'm Nate, and this has been my class on finding your authentic casting type. Bye for now.