How racism & stereotype can help get you cast

Ajay Naidu has a new movie coming out.
Most people won’t know Ajay by name (I didn’t), but you’ll probably recognize him right away if you’ve seen the movie Office Space.
In Office Space he plays Samir, a guy who (if you remember the movie) has a very “special” relationship with the office copy machine.
Ajay’s new film is called Crazy Famous, and he plays a ‘Mad Scientist’ psychologist trying to struggle to control a patient who is desperate for fame.
In an interview to promote the film, Ajay was asked if he thought there were more opportunities opening up for Asian-American actors. He responded that he felt like there actually were far greater opportunities, the range of Asian-American talent that could fill and portray those roles with dignity was still pretty minimal.
He said that even though there’s a lot more roles and a lot more people vying for those roles, “the cream will still rise.”
I thought this was a pretty interesting statement.
I’m not in tune with the number of Asian-American actors and roles available these days, but if what Ajay says IS true then it represents a huge opportunity for the Asian-American actors with real talent.
And the same goes for actors of all race, age, and type–IF they understand how to use typecasting to their advantage, and IF they have the talent to back it up.
One of the most important things any actor needs to get a handle on right away is their “type”–basically, when casting directors, producers, and the general public look at you and interact with you, how they identify you based on your age, race, sex, physical characteristics, and personality type.
Like it or not, this is an extremely important part of the business of acting.
Because the truth is, most people WILL categorize you by first impressions, both as an actor and a human.
If I were a 6′ 3″ guy with a shaved head and tattoos and showed up to an audition wearing all leather, I would probably have a hard time getting cast as a meek, geeky science teacher. Even if that was more my personality type in real life, it wouldn’t match people’s impressions of me.
One could make the case for saying that it’s pretty stereotypical and probably somewhat racist that Ajay is frequently cast as an Indian doctor, or an office worker in a tech firm. But even if Ajay spent most of his free time collecting shotguns and riding a Harley, it would be really hard for him to get cast as a scary biker guy. Most people will just never see him that way.
But instead of fighting against type, Ajay has learned to make this work for him. He goes after roles that he knows are they kinds of roles that people can see him playing. And because he’s a talented actor, he frequently gets what he goes after.
Smart actors frequently use this to their benefit, and you can, too.
But it all starts with making sure that you nail your type, so you are going after the right roles to begin with.
But before you rush off to try and figure that out, take two minutes now to watch one of my favorite scenes from Office Space: ( )
-Brian ( )
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