Ready to become an actor or become an actress? Here are some great tips to get you started.

“Type?” you may be asking. Yes, type. The word typecast brings about fear in many actors. The reality is that typecasting is here to stay, especially for actors in the beginning of their careers. Instead of fighting typecasting, an actor should learn to love it and use it. Knowing and taking advantage of your type is one of the biggest casting secrets in the industry.

When a casting director is casting for the part of a professional boxer who grew up on the streets and you walk in lacking muscles and looking like a high-dollar attorney, you do not stand a chance of getting the part. You are wasting your time and the casting director’s time by showing up for that audition. Casting directors appreciate agents and their actors who know their type and audition for roles that fit.

Typecasting does not mean you will never be able to break out of your type. If you make it as an actor and become a box office star, you will be able to choose your parts. Until then, knowing your type will help you along your acting career by giving you a clear place in the talent industry.

Now you are probably thinking, “How do I determine my type?” One way is to ask casting directors. A better way is to go straight to the movie going public by doing your own market survey.

Get yourself a clipboard, a pen, and a few sheets of paper. Write “Male” at the top of two of the pages and number from 1 to 50 down the left hand side. Then, write “Female” at the top of two more pages and repeat the numbering from 1 to 50.

Put on some neutral, non-descript clothing so your outfit will not influence the answers to your questions. Head out to your busiest local movie theater near show times. (You may want to ask the theater management ahead of time if you can stand outside the movie theater to complete your survey.)

As people arrive, ask if they will answer a short, three-question survey. Most of the time people are happy to help. If not, move on. For those who will take your survey, ask the following questions:

1. How old do I look?
2. What ethnicity do you think I am?
3. What do you think my job is?

Write the three answers down on your paper on the appropriate line and on either the male or the female pages. If people answer that you are a student for the job question, ask what they think you are studying. Thank the survey participants and keep going until you have surveyed 100 people (50 males and 50 females).

Then comes the fun part, it is time to compute the results. First, add up the ages and divide it by 100 to come up with the average age people think you look. Second, calculate the ethnicities to determine what people perceive. Lastly, sift through the jobs. You should be able to come up with a general range of jobs and characters.

Use this information when shooting your headshots. Go for the look of the job, age, and ethnicity most popular in your survey. You are “right” for acting in these types of roles.

If you were surprised or disappointed about how the public perceives you, do not be upset. You can do things to change your appearance, but it is usually best to be who you are and go for the type of acting roles perceived than struggling to be something you are naturally not.