So you got an audition, and you’re excited to go in and strut your stuff but you just know that the casting director is going to ask you, so tell me about yourself?
But why do casting directors do this? It’s pretty common in commercial auditions and actually really helps the casting director to get to know you. It shows a lot about your personality and whether or not you appear natural on camera when telling a simple story – this is super important for commercial auditions. It’s also a great way to break the ice!
So what exactly do you say?
Here are nine easy to follow tips to follow to make this fun and entertaining.
1. Stay away from business stuff.
Keep in mind that they do have your résumé in front of them, and they’re not necessarily asking about business stuff. They deal with business stuff all day and add a glance can see what you’ve worked on recently and what classes you’ve been taking. This is show business, so add a little show! Don’t go over the top, but try to keep the story engaging and entertaining.
2. Keep in mind what they don’t want to hear.
Absolutely stay away from anything that is negative, political, or could be personally sensitive in any way. This includes stories about the tummy troubles you had last night after eating that gas station sushi, or the terrible traffic on the way into the audition. Think about what you would want to hear…? Keep it light, keep it fun, and keep it engaging!
3. Come prepared with a few options.
Have a few personal stories that are ready to go at a moments notice. If you plan on being an actor for a long time, plan on auditioning for a long time and being asked this question again and again. What are your hobbies? What is something that you’re passionate about right now? Are you taking cooking classes? Are you super competitive and beach volleyball? If you’re genuinely excited about the topic, no Acting will be required and you’ll be naturally engaging. Also, if you can find a story that is light and has a little bit of humor to it that goes along way. Remember, casting directors listen to hundreds of these! Don’t try to stand out in a weird way, but if you can entertain and engage them and even make them smile or laugh, they’ll really appreciate it.
4. Be honest about your current abilities.
Casting directors have incredible minds for details, and yes they will remember these things. If you tell them that you’re an expert bull rider doing the rodeo circuit, they’re definitely going to write that down! Be honest about your current abilities and keep the bragging in check, unless you want to be called in to tame a bull sometime soon.
5. Be engaging but don’t overdo it.
Casting directors audition hundreds of actors every day, day in and day out, so they hear the story again and again. As I mentioned earlier if you can keep it engaging and entertaining them and even light, playful, and cheerful, they’re going to really appreciate it! You don’t have to put on a vaudeville show, but absolutely let your personality shine through.
6. Cut to the chase.
When casting directors say, “tell me about yourself”, they’re not asking for your life story, or for you to carry on for 10 minutes about your road trip across the country to visit your favorite aunt. If you get one whole minute to share your story, consider that generous! And trust me, a minute goes by fast. Be concise and consider starting with the most compelling part of your story, and then work backward from there.
7. Rehearse this.
Yup! You got it this is part of the audition. Put together two or three stories that you can use again and again and then rehearse them. Practice saying them and record yourself. Watch and see if you would want to hear it again, and this will give you a really good idea on timing – remember, one minute or under.
8. Trust your intuition
If you forget what you’ve so carefully prepared, or if something new and interesting pops into your mind that you think would be a better story to tell at the moment, then go with that! Keep in mind that you still want it to be engaging and to keep the pace moving along.
9. If you can tie it into what you’re auditioning for, even better!
Do you have a story that somehow relates to what you were auditioning for? If you’re auditioning for the role of a chef, and you genuinely enjoy cooking, this would be a great time to share that. The flip side, if you are a terrible cook, you might want to skip that and talk about a great meal you had out recently instead.
I have literally done hundreds of auditions over the course of my career, and answered this question hundreds of times. And yes in the beginning, I gave some pretty dreadful answers! I wish I had the tips above when I first started out and could have put together something that was a little less cringy and embarrassing.
Give yourself an hour one afternoon, brainstorm three great stories… And it helps if they are all interesting and different topics so you can pull out the best story in the moment. Then work out the details and try them out.
Want more? Read: How to Answer the Dreaded “Tell Me About Yourself” Question for Actors
So … “tell me about yourself”! What is your story? Share it in the comments below!
Like this post or love it? Tweet it. Post it. Pin it. Share it with actor friends! It’s a tough business and we could all use a little help!