Contributed with curiosity by Faculty Member Kana Sato as part 3 of a 4 part interview series with Alberto Bonilla.
How can I find my type?
When trying to nail an audition, or book a part, it is helpful to keep in mind what your “type” is. While an actor can focus on playing a range of characters, they sometimes struggle with finding the right part based on their strengths.
Finding out what your “type” is seems like an impossible task sometimes.
Alberto Bonilla: We do a whole exercise in my class about finding that. We break it down and figure that out. I tend to believe that your “type” is made up of three things:
- Physicality: Things you can and cannot change—your hair color, height, weight, ethnicity.
- Temperament: Your personality, your mood—are you happy, or do you have a chip on your shoulder?
- Essence: The innate history that you bring into the room— do you come from money, a rough neighborhood, Midwestern, etc. It doesn’t have to be exactly what your upbringing was—some people come across very classy and grew up in extremely difficult neighborhoods. Look at Kim Kardashian, she comes from a lot of money, but I don’t know if you’d call her classy.
All three of those things combined is how I define type, and every actor needs to explore these three things specifically as themselves before arriving at what their type is.
Essence is the harder one for actors to accept because they may want to be one thing but they are fighting their upbringing. Other actors that really accept their essence can find work faster when they aren’t fighting their type.
Is essence very apparent on screen?
Alberto Bonilla: It’s apparent when someone walks into the casting room. If you’re in a bar as a single person and somebody walks up to you and starts hitting on you, you immediately assess if they’re your “type”. People do this all the time. This happens on the street. At a party. You scan the room and drift towards “your people.” We are in constant observation of type. But type starts with you first, not with what is out there.
You are your own type. Our first step is to discover our type, and then we need to accept our type. Accepting is hard. I will never get to play any role that Brad Pitt plays, so that’s a negative point of view. But then you can say, Brad Pitt will never get to play a role I get to play.