I find myself blogging more about auditioning than anything else. I could probably devote an entire blog to auditioning because, and I’ve said this before, as actors, we are professional auditioners.
A salesman hears 10 No’s for every 1 Yes, and I believe that’s true for actors as well.
We’ve talked about building relationships over booking roles, which I would argue is the most important goal in auditioning. But what about the aftermath? How can we best handle those moments after we walk out of the room?
We’ve all had bad auditions. It happens. We aren’t perfect, so of course it happens. I have two thoughts on this:
First, I’ll say it takes a lot to get blacklisted from a casting office, so give yourself a break. Biggest rule: Don’t be an ass. A well-respected casting director in Chicago once told me there’s only 1 actor she’d never call back, and it’s someone who made anti-Semitic comments in her office. This is a casting director who has seen everything in the audition room, but this is the only person she would never invite back. Casting directors look at you and wonder if they could spend 12 hours a day with you on set. Do you think sending an actor who is outwardly anti-Semitic to set is a good idea? Just don’t be an ass. And thank those actors who ARE asses because they get you one step closer to booking the room AND the role!
Second, and this is an important one: I encourage you to ask yourself this very important question, after not-so-perfect and even closest-to-perfect-as-possible auditions:
How did my audition prep serve me?
I love this question. It’s something Chicago actor and coach, Janelle Snow, asks during every one of her classes.
Let’s forget about all the uncontrollables for a minute and focus on the controlled: our prep. As a professional auditioner, you wear a lot of hats. You are your own stylist, dramaturge, director and of course, actor. Let’s break this down:
Stylist: Does what you wear to your audition enhance the character? I’d shy away from wearing full costumes, but if you’re called in to play a scientist, you may want to wear a button-down shirt instead of shorts and a t-shirt. Then again, if you’re called in to play a middle-class college student, maybe a t-shirt and hoodie is perfect. Whatever you wear, make it intentional.
Dramaturge: Do your research on the role and project. If it’s a show, iMDB and Youtube it. Is the dialogue fast-paced? It is single or multi-cam? Sitcom or drama? Do the characters where their hearts on their sleeves, or do they keep it under control? Check out the director. What else has she or he worked on? Make sure you can pronounce every word correctly, and know the product you’re selling if it’s a commercial. Don’t say Clarinex if you’re selling Claritin! (Believe me, these mistakes happen.)
Director: Make your choices specific and intentional. Add some humor if it’s appropriate. Focus on relationship and environment. Don’t throw spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks. Be focused and specific with your choices.
Your prep is your prep. I’m not here to tell you what to do, and I’m definitely not here to tell you there’s only one way to prep, but I will say this:
Make sure your prep best serves you and your audition.
The next time you walk out of the audition room, ask yourself that question. Did you do everything you could have done to be best prepared in the room? If so, fantastic. Keep it up! If not, go back to your prep and make it work for you.
As long as you don’t make amateur mistakes (continued tardiness, continued unmemorized auditions, being an anti-Semitic ass), you will be invited back. But don’t lean into that. Instead, lean into your prep and let it serve you best.
Be your own boss, like the boss that you are.
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