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Auditions: it always seems like there is so much riding on them. They are the key to us getting work as an actor, and also seem to be the gateway to unlocking our dreams. If they go well, we have a shot! And if not, then, at least temporarily our hopes are shattered and egos bruised. But Acting is a career, and careers are not born or lost in one day or afternoon. Webster’s defines career as: “an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress.” So you can count on many auditions over the course of your acting career. And, like any career you are going to need practice, resilience, passion, determination and more practice.
Whether you are at the start of your career, and this is new information, or you are further down the road and you just need a solid reminder and a pep talk, here are a few things every (new) actor should know. These are truths that I have learned personally and/or have been given to me by casting directors over the years. These tips are to help you take your passion and channel it into a successful career.
1. Rehearse on camera
When you’re preparing for an audition, it’s always a good idea to record yourself and do a “dry run” on camera. Try on the clothes you’re going to wear. How do they read on camera? Does the overall give the picture of the character you want to portray?
See what you like, and what you don’t. What it really working for you, and where could you tweak it a bit? If you can get a friend to read with you, even on FaceTime (separate device) all the better! No one available? Jump on WeAudition . You’ll find me there reading with other actors almost every day.
2. Have an Opinion and Make Strong Choices
In real life, we have an opinion about EVERYTHING. If someone says it’s cold outside, you have an opinion – maybe you agree, maybe you disagree. Maybe you don’t care about the temperature and wonder why they brought it up? On EVERY line you say and EVERY line you hear, have an opinion.
3. Listen, React, Listen Again
Acting is as much about listening and reacting as it it about expressing and doing. Back to what I said above; in real life we have an opinion about everything! Really listen to the other person in the scene with you. The lines will come so much easier if you are engaged and involved.
5. Research Who and What You’re Auditioning For
In any business, if you were going to take a meeting, you would want to know about the other person and the company, and acting is a business. Find out who you are auditioning for – the casting director, director, studio, show. What do they like to see in auditions? If it’s a show, what is the overall feel? What is the writing style? If you can find out a little bit about the people on social media, even better! It’ll help give you a sense of the energy in the room before you get there.
6. Don’t Let the Reader Throw You
In an ideal world, all readers would be perfect, great actors and highly engaged. But that’s not always what we get. Of course, if you can, get the reader to connect with you. If you can’t, don’t sweat it! Keep acting your little heart out. What do you think actors are doing who are acting on green screen, or their scene partner is an animated character that is going to be put in later? Hope for an amazing reader, prepare for a lousy one, and never use it as an excuse for a sub par audition.
7. Keep it Professional
You want to be friendly, but not overly so. Crossing that line and you can suddenly become “that crazy actor who…”. Keep small talk to a minimum, don’t get overly personal, and definitely not too close outside of the audition room. I had one casting director tell me about an actress who followed her into the ladies room to talk – when ya gotta go, ya gotta go! That is not the place for chit chat.
9. Never Shake Hands
Eeeewwww! Yes, it’s true, we’ve all become germaphobes. And for a casting director that may see over 100 actors in one day, it’s logical, reasonable and rational. Let me ask you this – do you want to be the first person they shake hands with or the 97th? Get the idea? Unless someone offers their hand, don’t extend yours. But if they do, germaphobe or not, TAKE IT!
10. It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
The idea of hundreds, if not thousands, of auditions, may seem daunting, but back to what I said at the beginning…. this is a career, and careers, by nature, take a long time. Will you feel like giving up along the way? Probably. Every sane person does. But it’s a business, and business is a marathon, not a sprint.
As an actor, and as a human being, we all evolve and change because of our experiences. Every experience holds within it the potential to make you a better actor. If you fall in love, it will make you a better actor. If you have your heart broken, it will make you a better actor. Going to an art show, learning how to surf, losing a couple of hours in an engrossing movie – anything that moves you, challenges you or changes you, will make you a better actor. So hang in there. Don’t give up. That goes for auditions too. Learn from every one of the, but leave your performances in the room and move on to the next. Don’t ever let a bad audition impact the next one. Every experience helps you grow, hone your skills and master your craft. This is where the real love is.