In our quest to be a successful, recognized, possibly award winning actor, we always have to be aware of what the people who are hiring us, i.e. casting directors, are looking for. At first thought this can seem extremely difficult. But after eleven years of auditioning, screen tests and eventually booking, I’ve come up with a few things that will make a casting director never forget you.
One of my greatest mentors, who was an actor that booked over 500 jobs in his career, once told me: “If you’re going to succeed in this business, you need to leverage everything you can to help you stand out.” He later explained that, if ten million people are vying for the same roles that I desire, it has to be my obligation to help the casting director want to give me the job. This made so much sense to me because, let’s face it, as an actor we need every advantage possible to help us rise above the rest of the pack.
If you’ve read this far, then I know you are ready to embrace your uniqueness as a performer and find yourself cast in a multitude of projects.
The very first thing you need to know if you are going to stand out is the concept of CONNECTION. Connection is not only something actors need, but human beings also. By studying psychology, I realized that if I can establish a connection with anyone, they’re going to be drawn to me.
Great news is, this is easier than you think! One of the easiest ways to establish a connection with the casting director you’re auditioning for is to do your research before you go into an audition.
I utilize this concept at an audition for a major television show once. This was a casting director who was widely known for her work in television, but I knew through different interviews and articles that she was most proud of her independent films. At this point, you have to be thinking how can I create the advantage? I strategized and realized that the first thing I was going to do was mention her latest independent film and how well I thought the cast had gelled to create an awesome project. I found the film, watched it and made specific notes that I would use. When I entered the room, I could tell she was tired. Here’s another important point you need to know as an actor.
It’s of great significance that you always raise the energy of the room you’re walking into. For the people on the other side of the table, seeing the same audition over and over can be exhausting. They are hoping that you can come in with a spark and light the room on fire. That’s exactly what I did. I walked in with a big smile, joked about the energy of the room and mentioned the independent film. It took all the guts that I had, but if I was going to book, I had to be a step ahead. It worked perfectly. I watched as the casting director went from indifferent to extremely interested in my performance. Funny thing was, it wasn’t even my best audition, but I established connection in the most unique way and that left an indelible impression.
We all have the ability to make anyone laugh. It all comes down to staying authentic to what the moment gives you. This is true comedy. COMEDY can win anyone over, especially a casting director.
In the aforementioned story, I touched on how I joked about the energy of the room. The people who were exposed to it were completely receptive and we all had a laugh. It broke the tension that previously existed. Keep in mind that this was an audition for a television drama, but when we are relaxed as actors, we open up the playing field to be authentic. When we’re authentic, anything is possible. So after establishing connection, see if there’s an opportunity for comedy.
If there’s one thing you need to know if you’re going to succeed with this, it’s that great laughs come when you call out the elephant in the room. Think about the best job interview you have ever had. You likely experienced a plethora of emotions and feelings. From seriousness to compassion to funny, the interview came full circle and you got the job. Auditioning is no different. Own the room with your energy, tell a joke, connect on a deeper level with the casting director and win the job. It’s a simple process when done right, can go a long way. If you can make the person behind the camera or table laugh, you are one step closer to the most important step of this process, creativity.
CREATIVITY is when you tie it all in a bow.
You were called in to audition because of your ability to act and this is where you’re going to seal the deal. I want to open your eyes to something. Chances are, the role you are auditioning for has either hundreds or thousands of other actors aiming for a chance to be cast. From my experience alone and building relationships with casting directors, I’ve found that 95% of those actors will do the audition the exact same way. Hence, why casting directors are likely exhausted when you walk in. Can you imagine watching the same show one hundred times? Neither can I!
So here’s how we go a step above the rest and get into that 5%.
Get creative with your script and your delivery. Don’t pay so much attention as to what the scene is giving you, but focus more on what can I do differently? Meditate on this if possible. By doing so, you will open up your creative capacity to think outside the box and excel through the auditioning process.
To give you a specific example, if the script calls for angry emotion, choose indifference. If the script calls for sadness, choose happiness. This is one of my favorites because how many times have we seen people receive bad news, they start to laugh and act happy before they break down. Although just an example, it gives you the perspective that you can hit your mark from an unlimited number of ways.
Don’t just stop there.
Another awesome way to get creative is just to ask yourself all the time, “HOW CAN I MAKE MY AUDITIONS STAND OUT.” You won’t always get an answer immediately, but you will always receive the answer in the form of hunch or corresponding circumstance. Ultimately, when you can stay mindful through the auditioning process, the creativity available to you will be immeasurable.
Use it and become unforgettable to every casting director you encounter.
Being the best that we can be as actors is just a matter of putting ourselves in the most optimal position to succeed. The more I act and the more I coach actors, I find that success is just a matter of finding unconventional ways to create connection, comedy and creativity.
When we can establish those concepts for every audition, callback or meeting, we ensure that every casting director we see will never forget who we are and the dynamic talent we can potentially bring to any production.