Imagine any other profession where you put yourself out there and get rejected - constantly. It just doesn’t happen, no one else would put up with it! I give every single person who walks into a room and lays out their soul for all to see. We actors seem to have pretty tough skins, but no matter how much you understand the odds, no matter how many times you tell yourself not to focus on the big pay check on the other side of the audition, if you’re not careful that little voice inside your head telling you you have to book this, will eat you alive and sabotage your audition.
I spent the first 2/3 of my career walking into the audition room with a giant weight on my shoulder. I realize now that it was desperation. I was desperate to book so that I could prove to everyone in the room I deserved to be there, prove to my friends, family and teachers that I was really an actor and prove to myself that I wasn’t wasting my time and that I am good enough. With all of that baggage I wonder how I even managed to get myself there in the first place!
Then one day I had an “Ah Ha” moment. I finally got to the point where I just didn’t give a f**k anymore (mind my language). Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean I stopped caring about my acting or my craft. I didn’t stop caring about the work. What I did was I stopped giving a s**t about the result. My job as an actor is to audition - its not to book. Booking is what happens when all the things in the universe align but for them to align you have to do your work. Everything other than your work is out of your hands and quite frankly not your problem.
Well, we’re human right? And even though I thought I had mastered the audition room, there was still something I was missing. Until now.
I believe that every single actor needs to be a reader in an audition session. I did it for the first time ever this past weekend and it gave me a totally new understanding of the process. Here are a few things I picked up and some tips I’d like to share with you:
1. Every single person in that room WANTS you to be good! If you are “it” then they are happy.
2. Everyone has a great respect for actors and what we do. They respect you and your ability to get up there and share a piece of yourself. So don’t give them the power.
3. Sometimes reality sucks. You can do the best audition but might not have the right look. Or you might not match the other actors they have in mind. What does this mean for you? It means that once you’ve left the room its out of your hands and just because you didn’t get the part doesn’t mean you didn’t do good work. So just keep doing good work and eventually you’ll fit the part - or you’ll blow them away to the point that they’ll re-write the role for you.
4. Come prepared! Oh my goodness I couldn’t believe people who came in, not knowing their lines and clearly hadn’t done any work on the script. It was SO boring to read with them. One guy didn’t look at me once - or off his paper for that matter. It’s fine if you drop a line or forget what you’re saying as long as you stay in character. It is SO unprofessional to be unprepared. Know what you’re doing. Period.
5. Connect with your reader! There were actors that connected and affect me and there were actors who said their lines and didn’t even look in my direction. Guess who had the better audition?
6. We Canadians are SO polite. No LA actor would ask if they could use the chair, or if it would be alright if they did this or that - they would just do it. So just do it. If you want to use the chair, use the chair! If it’s there you can use it. This is your time, you own the room. Come in and do you thing.
7. Speaking of doing your thing. TAKE YOUR TIME! Almost everyone came into the room and just ran right into their scene. And when you have more than one scene, it’s okay to take a beat in between - especially if your scenes are emotional polar opposites. In fact, if scene 2 is really emotional and the other ones are light, I would prep scene 2 outside and then do that one first, that way you can get yourself emotionally connected.
8. Be respectful. If you are respectful of the people in the room they will be respectful of you.
9. Don’t use props - unless its something you would have on your person. If you are on the phone, use your cell. Other than that just forget it, props are unnecessary. And NEVER bring a gun. Seriously, if you pull a gun (even if it’s fake) in an audition room you will never work again.
10. Have fun! The actors that came in the room prepared to the point that they could let it all go and just have fun and play with me were the ones with the best auditions.
I hope this is helpful, this is my experience, take it with a grain of salt and go out there and figure out your own way in the audition room.
Jeb Beach happened to also post on his blog about auditioning. He has great insight, check it out!