Have you ever imagined yourself as a movie actor? If so, what roles do you play? More importantly, how similar are your imaginary roles to who you are in real life? I ask because I think the world of acting offers us a useful lesson in career success.
One of my friends is an actor who is carefully building his career. Fortunately, he has a great day job and an award winning film to his credit. Recently, during dinner in LA (where else?), we talked about personal branding for actors. During this and a subsequent conversation in Atlanta, I learned some things that seem to have broad application to pursuing success in other industries.
According to my friend, getting started in acting is often based on your type; specifically:
“… typecasting … [or] the process by which a particular actor becomes strongly identified with a specific character; one or more particular roles; or, characters having the same traits or coming from the same social or ethnic groups.”
Type is no small matter. In fact, it can make a big difference in launching a successful career. [Tweetable] As my friend explained, “I’m a young Indian guy who fits a limited range of types and roles. So, while I can play an IT consultant with a heart, I will likely never have the lead role in a Hollywood-produced action movie.”
He pointed out that type is often based on the qualities that make for first impression; and get further defined in the initial phase of getting to know someone. Specifically, he went on to explain, visual and vocal style, body language, facial expressions, clothes, physical characteristics, emotional range, and other attributes all matter. As well, what someone can do as an actor is further defined by essence.
Least this sound merely artistic, it’s sobering to know that the ideas he shared are very much grounded in the hard business realities of running an acting career. This point is powerfully made in a post by Hollywood writer Bonnie Gillespie.
So, how does this apply to you?
Like an actor, your success in work and life is often all about playing the roles that come most naturally to you. And your ability to convincingly play those roles will be based on some mix of talents, attributes, beliefs, and life themes that have shaped your experiences. Call it type, or call it personal brand, if you want to be (more) successful, you really need to identify the very best roles for you.
You probably know that you can’t be all things to all people. The question is, how much does this principle guide your choices? If you aren’t already doing so, take the time to figure your best-fit roles and use those insights to pursue opportunities that are truly for you – and where you can be the star.
What’s your type and what roles are you pursuing? If you want to share, I’d love to know. Just leave a comment.