Written by Graeme Petrie
How to become a Shark in the audition room.
Becoming an actor means having to audition, which can be a nerve-wracking experience. Most post-secondary full time acting programs will include a component covering auditions. For those who have not enrolled in acting classes before or are not on a Talent Agent’s roster, here are some things to think about if you get a chance to audition for a role or commercial.
1. Do your research
When attending an audition you’ll usually know in advance what you’re auditioning for. Make sure to research the show or film ahead of time to familiarize yourself with the characters, their tone, time period, story, theme, etc. If it’s a commercial audition, check out previous commercials for the product to see how they want to come across and who the target audience is, since those are the people you want to appeal to.
2. Dress appropriately
You don’t want to distract from your performance. You are not dressing to impress, you are dressing to book the role. Play it safe by wearing casual or plain clothing. Take chances with your acting, not clothing. If you get a call back, wear the same clothing again.
3. Arrive on Time
Arrive at least 15 minutes early and have your professional package ready to hand over (headshot 8” x 10” and resume attached to the back). Bring personal information (i.e social security number, agent contact information etc.) and complete the sign-up sheet.
Collect yourself, settle in and shake off the butterflies. Avoid interacting with other actors, they too will be nervous, and this can be infectious. Remain composed and focused about how you want to come across in the room.
4. Be Prepared and Know your Lines
Usually you’ll be provided with a scene to prepare in advance. Put in the necessary time (no matter how long it takes) to get your lines down and memorized, since you’ll only have a couple of minutes to perform them (sometimes less). Most Casting Directors will not give you a second chance, but if they do, try putting a bit of a different spin on your performance the second time around.
5. Remain Positive and Be Yourself
First and foremost, you have to remember to enjoy your audition. Be your authentic self and let your personality shine through. You are not there to get approval, so don’t try to please.
Leave your baggage outside, stride into the room with confidence and make no excuses. Show those who are watching, you’ve got this!
6. Cold Read Audition
For many actors doing a cold read (being given material to perform only a few minutes beforehand) can be a frightening experience. Firstly, arrive early as your lines may be available to look at ahead time. Any extra time you have to look them over is a huge plus.
Try not to look down at the paper and read off the script, while rocking back and forth. Stay with your reader (the person reading lines opposite you or scene partner). If you lose your line, come down to the page to remind yourself, then come right back to the reader (or camera) with your head up, and deliver your lines with feeling. It is unlikely you’ll get the lines perfect (and those running the audition know that). The circumstances of the scene are more important than the lines. Focus on who you are talking to, where you are supposed to be, and what just happened, the rest will fall into place.
7. Remember to Smile
No matter how the audition goes, exhale and smile. Embrace and appreciate the opportunity you just had to do what you love most. Acting. Realize that your life does not depend on the success or failure of this one audition and that there will be many more to come, if you chose to become a professional actor. Accept the fact that sometimes it was just not meant to be, take what you can from the experience, and move on.
Be sure to continue your acting training and work your acting muscle. Find an acting school in Vancouver (or wherever you live) that you can take ongoing scene study or audition evening classes from experienced actors (working in the industry now) to stay sharp.
Lastly, always make sure your Headshot, Cover Letter and Resume with relevant training, skills and industry contacts and Demo Reel (if you have one) are updated, in order to be ready for your next chance.
Break a leg!