Hollywood deals a lot with 'types'. As an actor, you have to figure out what 'type' you are and actively market yourself as that. I, for example, sometimes market myself as the quirky, cute, ethnically-ambiguous guy. Other times, I market myself as the sharp and thoughtful middle eastern guy. Depends what is needed.
Some people get upset about types, because they feel like they're being pigeonholed or limited. They think, well, I could play Italian, why don't they see that? The thing is, when you have 3 lines, and the NYPD Blue audience has to believe you're a grieving Italian grandma, you have to project that image as soon as you come on the screen -- you can't say, well, I was *acting* Italian.
So, it's just a matter of getting OK with the fact that you're gonna be typed, and using it. I know I'm gonna be playing some terrorists, for a while. Refusing to play terrorists will only mean more day job work.
But, one funny thing about this type-crazy town is that people no longer know how to critique an actor without using those buzz words. Sometimes they don't even realize that what they're saying is totally devoid of any real meaning. "Be more lawyerly" "Be more of a skater type". What does that *mean*? Do all lawyers and all skaters act the same way?
But it really gets ridiculous when these critiques about type start getting into race and other personal traits. Every black actor I know has a story of an audition in which they were told "Can you be a little more... urban?" Some casting people are unversed in the code, so they just say "Be blacker", which is completely ridiculous. They are black. They can't be "blacker". OK, the casting director will say, "more urban". "more street". "hipper".
And at a recent audition for a gay character, I learned about a new code from a gay friend of mine that I ran into. He often gets, "go really high-energy". "more festive". Very "musical comedy". "Animated". At least most of those are playable and less vague, but they're also kinda creepy, don't ya think? The one that makes me laugh is one my friend and his gay friends came up with: "hands above the shoulders". As in "He's a very hands-above-the-shoulders character".
Anyway, be on the lookout for my Office Depot commercial. My character is very "hands above the shoulders". At least I *think* that's the version they're gonna go with. Til next time!