If you are an aspiring actor, it’s important to know, realistically, what kind of roles you’re going to get. Part of the joy of acting is that you get to pretend to be anything you want. Look, I can be a nerd. I could be a jock. I could be a drug dealer, a burnout. I could be anything you want me to be.

But in real life, very few actors get to be anything. They want to be like Meryl Streep. She gets to take any role she wants, but most other actors are just playing a version of themselves, something much closer to who they really are in real life.

So if you were a nerd in high school, those are the kinds of roles you’re probably going to get. Just to give you an example, and you’re not gonna like this, but years ago when we were auditioning in person, now it’s all kind of done online; I remember we had a small part, like three lines. You know in the beginning, if you go out for a part, you’re gonna get small roles, they’re just three lines. And so the part was for a popular girl who thinks she’s all that. We read a bunch of women and, you know, some were quite talented. And then, towards the end, one woman comes in, and you could just tell she was pissed from having been kept waiting.

How dare we keep her when she didn’t say anything, but you could, you could just see in her eyes. And she did the part. And I leaned over to my partner. I’m like, oh my God, we found our girl. And she did the part and she was great. You totally got that. She was, you know, kind of a mean girl. I felt bad giving her the role when there are so many other lovely women. Don’t you want to help out someone who’s nice? But the truth is, on TV you only have three seconds. You have that quick shot to establish the role. And it’s just so much easier if the audience looks at that woman and goes, oh yeah, I know who she is before she even opens her mouth with dialogue. I know who she is.

You know, if you were a nerd in high school, I was a nerd. Like I can’t shake that. I can’t convince people. I was a jock. People go look, you were a nerd. So it’s the same thing with you, whatever you were in high school, that’s who you are kind of now. And that’s what you want to lean into to get the parts that you want to get. So don’t run away from that. Embrace it. For more tips, especially on acting, follow me here, on Facebook, on Instagram, and everywhere @MichaelJaminwriter.

Michael Jamin, Showrunner, TV Writer, Author

Michael Jamin

For the past 26 years, Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner. His credits include King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Wilfred, Maron, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD and many more.

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