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  • Writer's pictureAndi Matheny

Why is it so important to understand the genre of the show you're auditioning for?

Elizabeth Banks as a bank teller in "Catch Me If You Can"

A lot of actors are looking to book their first TV or movie role, and if you're lucky, you'll get an audition for a small, costar-type role that will build your resume. Let's say it's for a bank teller, two lines. That should be pretty easy, and once you understand the technique of auditioning for costar roles, it actually is.

But, are all bank tellers are created equal?

Not exactly. Even for a small role like a bank teller, it's vitally important you understand the genre of the show—which is the category of a film or TV show, like a dramedy, night time drama, procedural, sitcom, etc. And within a genre, each show has its particular tone—how the dialogue is written, the acting style, the pace of the dialogue and action, how it's shot and so many other factors. "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and "Barry" are both considered dramedies (blend of comedy and drama), but they're very different.

So, a bank teller cashing the check for the lead in a Hallmark movie may have a completely different vibe than a bank teller on a procedural, or a sitcom. There may be a different attitude or energy, given the tone of the show and the circumstances. These are all of the factors that can make or break your audition.

How do you know what genre your show fits into? By doing your research. Watch lots of TV, even shows that aren't your favorite. Pay attention to everything I mentioned above—the pace, how the dialogue's written, the acting style. Some night time dramas have a heightened acting style. Some are grittier, more realistic. Some single-camera comedies are played very deadpan. While you're watching the actors, imagine yourself in those roles and take notes about the choices you'd make. This is so important that in my book "Act ALIVE: The Essential Guide to Igniting and Sustaining Your Working Actor Career," I have not just one but TWO chapters about it!

So, get on your couches and start doing your research. We have the greatest job in the world—we get to watch TV. Now go book those costars!


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