[quote]“Once you label me you negate me.”[/quote]
I like to think I’m a chameleon. Drop me in pretty much any setting or context and -- with a little advance notice, due diligence, and the right costume -- I feel confident I can “play the part.” Others, however, are more generally typecast. What distinguishes the chameleons from the “types”? How are we typecast in our lives? And how do we break type?
NPR’s “Pop Culture Happy Hour” recently explored the concept of Hollywood typecasting after the passing of perennial gangster, James Gandolfini. They identified 3 main elements that lead to typecasting: 1) playing an iconic role (think superheroes), 2) being a demographic type and therefore being limited by your physicality, and 3) having a narrow range or specific skillset.
For some actors, being typecast is their biggest fear (though, from the the goofball to the girl next door, plenty of stars prove it can still be lucrative). But does being typecast help or hinder us in our everyday lives? Playing one role can facilitate trust and a recognition of competence -- you’re experienced, you’ve demonstrated your prowess, and your position and esteem continue to escalate. Or it could undermine the full range of your potential and send a signal that you’re a veritable one trick pony.
The way you “costume” yourself greatly determines how you’re typecast. Do you know a hipster and understand their lifestyle when you see one? (This Pharrell Williams video on stereotypes says no.) Are all prepsters part of the WASPy elite? (Not anymore.) But perception reigns supreme, making self-awareness paramount.
Want to better understand your type and potentially play a different role? Here are some tips:
Read: Learn more about the link between stereotypes and identity in Claude Steele’s book, Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us And What We Can Do.
Watch: Check out these against-type roles for inspiration in breaking your own type.
What’s your “type”? Tell us how you are typecast or evade typecasting, and how it works for or against you.