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If you're new to the auditioning process, here are the five most important tips for a successful audition.
1. Show up on time. Lateness reflects badly on you as a professional. (How will you make rehearsals/shoot dates if you can't even arrive on time for the audition?)
2. Bring your headshot and resume. Have it readily available.
3. Be prepared. Whether you have to read a segment of the script (called "sides") or perform a monologue, be sure you are ready to go from the moment you step into the auditioning room.
4. Be respectful...even when the auditioners aren't. The fact is that some auditioners are downright rude. It may seem to you that you're not holding their interest or even you're being ignored. Do not let this affect your performance.
5. When you're finished, say thank you...and then leave. Do not linger and discuss your life, the piece, how much you enjoy the character, etc.
Your audition is your first impression. Make it a good one.
One of the biggest stresses of auditioning is not what to prepare, but how to prepare. What you say or do during an audition is just as important as how you present yourself. If you're uncertain about what to wear or how to look for an audition, consider these points:
Remember that interviewers are looking for someone to work with, not someone to take care of. Actors who appear desperate or pushy in auditions are not often hired. Be self-assured and interested during the interview, and avoid any behavior that may make you seem difficult to work with. It is important to look like you are taking the interview seriously. Do not ask for a callback or inquire about when you may be notified about the job. If they want you to come back, they'll be sure to find you!
Make sure that you are as informed as possible before going into an audition. You should always know as much as possible about the director and his or her previous work. When selecting a part to audition for, think of the audition in terms of your past and future work. Be sure that you “fit” the part that you are auditioning for. Whenever possible, read the entire script -- not just your part -- so that you are able to discuss the piece, if necessary.
Auditions for which you are handed a script and asked to perform a scene are called "cold reads." Many actors fear this type of audition because they feel they do not have time to prepare. There are ways of preparing for these types of auditions, however! If you already know the piece you're auditioning from, find it in a library or bookstore and read it ahead of time. Get to know your character. If the piece is an unproduced script, your auditioner will most likely give you a brief background of your character. Here's where all your human observation skills are put to the test, so it's best to start honing them now! Overall, be positive: Cold reads can often be thrilling experiences, as you don't run the risk of being over-prepared or burned out.
As you would for any other interview, seek to make the best impression during an audition. There are a few main points you should keep in mind: Be prepared. Dress appropriately. Have a positive and friendly attitude. The goal is to attain a critical level of likeability and confidence. You have the potential to build a professional relationship with the director(s) by presenting yourself as a reliable and stable actor.
It's important to construct a proper wardrobe for all your auditions. Wear simple, clean (!) clothing that suite your build. For on-camera auditions, remember that contrasting patterns and stripes don't look good on camera. Blue is the best color to wear in this case. A casual ensemble can be dressed up with a soft wool sweater. Suits in navy or grey are your best bet. When selecting shoes, choose a pair that is sensible yet fashionable.
The material you read in an interview affects the impression you make. Use material that is representative of you, in terms of both age and type, and that will make you look your best. Vary the material that you use in an interview; reading the same piece over and over again will make your performance lose its edge. Concentration is key during the reading phase of the interview. Some general auditions ask for a classical and a modern piece. It's best to have two of each in case you are asked to perform another.
First impressions are incredibly important in an audition. Proper training will help you to be flexible enough to meet the challenges of any audition. Make sure you have ample time to warm up before you enter the audition space. Get as much rest as you can the night before. Be well-groomed and alert. Remember that a good impression stays with a director. Even if you are not right for the role you're auditioning for, s/he may consider you for a future production.
The audition is the only part of the process that you have immediate control over. Before going in to the audition, set a few goals for yourself, and then work to achieve them. Don't become stressed thinking about the audition's aftermath. Focus on the situation at hand, and seek to bring life to it. Don't worry about the competition; that's the auditors' job. Remember that it is you and you alone going in to the audition. Do your best, then let it go.
Professionalism goes a long way in auditions. Not only does that mean dressing professionally, it mean acting professionally as well. You should be prompt and courteous during your auditions. If you receive a callback, be sure you are available for rehearsal and/or shooting dates. You don't want to waste the director's time by auditioning even though you already know you have conflicts.
Don't panic if one interview goes bad...and don't let one bad interview spoil the next one. You'll be meeting a lot of agents and casting directors throughout your acting career. Having one bad experience with an auditor does not mean that you'll always have a bad experience. remember that every experience makes you a stronger performer, a stronger artist. Take an objective look at what went wrong and make note of it in order to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Above all, remember you're human! Kicking yourself too much is just as damaging to your art as being arrogant.
If you have had a bad experience with an auditor, when do you know it is “safe” to meet him/her again? You should only go back if you have shown improvement in some way. This can be either through additional training or additional acting experience. If the auditor previously offered any feedback, show that you have taken his/her advice to heart and incorporated it in to your acting. You should be able to show that your acting skills have evolved and improved since your last meeting.
When dressing for auditions, keep in mind the role you're auditioning for. There's no need to go all out and wear full costume, but dress with the essence of the character. If you're auditioning for the role of a young suburban mother, you may wear a nice twinset and slacks or a skirt. For a business man role, you might wear a suit or at least a sports coat. If your audition is a screen test, steer clear of wearing white, as it washes you out. The best color for screen is a medium blue. Remember the audition is to showcase your acting talent, not your wardrobe (they hire people for that!).
Always come prepared to a reading. Make sure that you know the material that you have been given beforehand. If necessary, ask pertinent questions about the character you are about to portray. It's expected you have done your homeowrk, so keep any questions brief. You don't want the auditioners' time to be wasted. If you are given direction during or after a read, follow it exactly, even if you disagree with it. Directors sometimes work in mysterious ways, so it's best to go with the flow.
Simple things can go a long way in an audition. Showing respect, for yourself, for your fellow actors, and for your auditors in an important component for any first time audition. Your resume and headshot should be well assembled. Show that you put some thought into your application. It's best not to speak unless you are asked a question (or are performing your audition, obviously). If you need to ask your auditors anything, keep it brief and relevant.
On occasion, an auditioner may wish to talk to you after your technical performance. While many professionals weigh the actor's performance more heavily, the interview is still very important. Whatever you do, don't "act" during an interview. Be yourself. Be professional and courteous. Present yourself well, in terms of both dress and demeanor. Feel free to answer any questions that are put to you in an honest way, but be careful of talking too much. It's always good to leave a little mystery so that they'll want more!
A crucial part of the interview process is conforming to current industry trends. Right now, commercials and film are often given a very “natural” look. (Perhaps this is the result of the popularity of reality television programs!) Keep this in mind and be comfortable with yourself and your identity during your interview. Allow your natural personality to show during the interview. Have trust in yourself, and you will come across as confident, calm, and poised.
Auditors note your character traits during acting auditions. Be sure that you present yourself as a person that they would want to work with. Show that you communicate well. Should any conflicts come up, try to mitigate them amicably. Make sure that you confirm and commit to audition times; auditors will not look favorably upon you if you keep changing dates. Show up on time (or early, if possible) so you have plenty of time to sign in and get comfortable with the environment. Do not use your audition slot as a chance to warm up! Do this before you set foot in the audition room.
Don't panic if you find yourself in an auditioning slump; acting auditions can be tough. Slumps usually present themselves following a period of auditioning success. After you have found what works to land a few roles, your auditioning can become mechanical, leading to a slump. Get back in the game by focusing your training regimen and attacking each new audition. Slumps can also result from disillusion with the auditioning process. When this happens, it is best to take a week or two off to refocus other aspects of your life before returning to acting.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|