Show business can be scary. Show business can be harsh. Show business can be rewarding.
Let’s skip the “Do you have what it takes to be an actor” and go right to “Do you have what it takes to go on auditions?”
You can go to classes, watch countless hours of great acting on the screen or at the theater and use your own personal life to create characters.
But can you successfully get through an audition?
You have approximately 15 seconds to impress the people in the audition room.
At primary auditions, you have no idea if there will be just one person or a bunch of people in the room. Sometimes there’s a one-way mirror with people behind it. Sometimes you’re recorded, sometimes you’re not.
It can be scary, unpredictable and even FUN!
If you think your audition begins once you step through the door to meet the Casting Director, you’re incredibly wrong. Your audition starts the moment you enter the waiting room.
The Waiting Room
Usually in the waiting room there are assistants checking everyone in. The assistants work for the CD. They maintain order. They can see how you act as “yourself” while waiting to be called. If you’re rude, disheveled, on your cell phone — they see it all.
So you need to do whatever it takes to make sure you look and feel 100% before you step through the waiting room door. Find a private place, bathroom or look at your reflection in a window to make sure you look the way you want to look as if you were going right into the audition. Do not brush your hair or put on make-up IN the waiting room. Put your cell phone on vibrate.
You need to be ON POINT, on your best behavior, going over your lines, getting into character, basically, focusing on your JOB once you’re in the waiting room.
This can be difficult if there are other actors on their phone (disturbing everyone!) or if someone tries to start up a conversation with you that has nothing to do with the audition. These types of situations can place you in an awkward position.
Dealing with Awkward Situations
You’ve signed in, found a seat and are going over your lines when you notice Mr. Someone hovering over you, smiling. He wants to discuss the character you’re both going up for.
Big “oh no” and also big “no no”. This is an audition, not a table read.
Knowing you’re probably being watched by the assistants, you realize you need to remain calm and politely tell Mr. Someone that you’re not interested. How do you do this? By telling the TRUTH.
Let Mr. Someone know that as much as you appreciate the offer, you need to decline.
Yes, it’s that simple. So many people feel that they have to give the other person a reason for declining, but you don’t. You literally have a few minutes before your audition; don’t waste those minutes trying to come up with an excuse.
Just like if your kid cannot attend their friend’s birthday party, you respond with, “Thank you for the invitation, but Jonah is not available that day. We hope Dale has a great party.” There’s no need to give an explanation of why Jonah cannot attend the party.
How you feel as you’re waiting to be called into the audition room can determine how you do in the audition. If you’re distracted outside, you may unintentionally use up the first 60 seconds of your audition getting focused.
Don’t attempt to shake the CD’s hand; don’t turn this into a meet and greet. Go in, state your name, ask a question if you have one relative to the part, then do your bit. Afterwards, if the CD wants to chat, they will strike up a conversation. (Another reason you don’t want to have a meet and greet before hand is because if you’re in your character’s zone, you don’t want to lose momentum.)
But woops! You screwed up your line! Now what?!
Do not ask if you can start over. There is no second chance. What you can do instead is literally just start over, without permission.
(Actors flub their lines all the time during filming, and it costs money to keep re-doing the scene, so knowing that you have the ability to just start over again while the camera is still rolling is a good thing.)
After the Audition
No matter how you THINK you did, it’s a great idea to send a thank you note to the CD. Some prefer email, some prefer snail mail. Sometimes your notes will not even be seen, but sending out a note is a good habit to form. Just like writing a thank you note if you receive a gift.
You can ask the assistants in the waiting room how and where the best place is to send the CD a thank you note. If the assistant doesn’t know, you can usually find the CD’s snail mail address online (some CDs rent out space for auditions, so be sure not to send a note to a rented space because more than likely it will not be forwarded.)
As a general rule, you don’t want to flood a CD’s email address, so unless you are specifically told to email the CD, it’s best to send a note or a picture postcard through the regular mail. (Really, in today’s electronic world? You betcha’!) If you don’t have a picture postcard, include your picture business card in the note’s envelope. If you happen to have a show coming out, you can add the date and time to your thank you note.
Getting a callback is huge. A callback is not a second chance.; it’s a brand new audition. You may be asked to do the same scene(s) as last time or you may be asked to prepare something different. There may be familiar faces in the audition room or there may be new ones. Just like the first audition, you really have no idea what to expect.
A good rule of thumb is to wear the same clothes and have the same “look” you did at the first audition. After all, you obviously made an impression.
However, be prepared to “change it up” a bit. You may get a surprise request to do a cold reading or even read for a different character!
Most importantly, be polite and have respect for everyone inside and outside of the audition room. Conduct your audition as if it’s the last one ever – make it great!