The 90% of audition prep work you need to do BEFORE you get the sides (or appointment)
On top of that, you’ve got to learn all your lines, research the show, figure out what to wear, all while balancing your day job and life in general. HOW IS THIS ALL POSSIBLE IN THE 24 HOURS THEY’VE GIVEN YOU?
Well, good news. 90% of my audition prep occurs before I ever get an audition. And so can yours.
Here are a few common damaging thoughts that come up during the audition process that you can learn to tackle in your everyday life so you can stay focused when a last second appointment comes through.
THOUGHT: “I’ll never memorize these sides on time.”
INSTEAD: “I can’t wait to tell this story.”
First of all, lines aren’t as important as the overall story. Scripts change between audition and filming all the time, so don’t feel too much pressure to be word perfect as long as you’re not changing the meaning of the line, or, in comedy, the rhythm or beats. My last 3 film/TV bookings are ones where I messed up my lines during the audition and just kept going. I don’t even know if anybody noticed. Hell, maybe they were like, “Wow! She did something just a little bit different from everyone else. I can’t quite figure out what it is -“ (uh…I made up my own line), “…but it really stood out!”
You are absolutely in service to the story. So, in your everyday life, master the art of storytelling by digesting stories of all kinds. Read fiction novels, watch stand-up, watch documentaries, and, of course, watch TV shows you’d like to work on. Tone, beats, pacing, and story arcs are all things you can learn by binge-watching with awareness. Also, this goes without saying: if you wanna book commercials, watch commercials.
THOUGHT: “I’m nervous. What if I forget my lines/eyelines/name and look totally stupid?”
INSTEAD: “I can’t wait to laugh.”
Nerves are a natural response to the unknown. But I find that they also reveal a lack of self-trust. You doubt that you’ll be able to handle the situation with grace and humor and that you’ll come out a massive failure.
To learn how to trust yourself, I challenge you to do something that makes you nervous every day. It doesn’t have to be something different, it can be the same thing each time (for me, it’s going to a super challenging yoga class where everyone is far more advanced, fit, good-looking, and probably making much more money than I am). I guarantee you you’ll get less nervous every time you make it out alive. Which, hopefully, you do. Let’s not take this challenge too seriously.
For me, I never see my failures as such, because they’re turned into funny stories that I can’t wait to tell all my friends about. If you come out of every situation either laughing victoriously or with a great “this is a[nother] time I totally bombed” story to laugh about (and learn from), then you never lose. So learn how to laugh at yourself.
Oh yea, and have an acting coach on speed dial to help with those eyelines. Do the prep work beforehand, but trust yourself to roll with the punches once you step into the audition room, and everything that happens from that point on is ABSOLUTELY a laughing matter.
THOUGHT: “Omg. Everyone in this waiting room is so more successful than I am. The person sitting across from me is, like, actually famous.”
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Find out where the working actors are studying. Do what they’re doing. In our Elite Program, our community of actors are helping push one another to higher levels of success and learning from what has worked in one another’s journeys. Exposure to people who, in your eyes, are “successful” or have “made it” (both very relative and highly subjective terms) humanizes them, and you realize they’ve got off days and ugly days just like everyone else. Also, you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with (and so is your income), so why not surround yourself with people who inspire you and push you to be the best version of yourself?
Make it a goal to be the least experienced one in a challenging class of your choice, so you have the most to gain. Aim to be Most Improved Player instead of MVP. At the end of the day, you’re only competing against yourself.
Back to my super hard yoga class where everyone’s gorgeous and a couple yogis are actually Insta-famous. After practicing the way they do for years, I’ve surprised myself by being able to do a lot of the poses they can (And even some that a lot can’t! whaaat?!). The point is, we’re capable of developing all the skills of people we look up to. We just gotta set aside our egos and relish that we have a lot to learn and be willing to put in the work to get to where they are.
THOUGHT: “I’m not good enough.”
INSTEAD: “I’ve got a lot to learn and improve on, but I’m proud of who I am and am grateful for my life exactly as it is.”
Before you do a massive eye roll, let me assure you that this “Love your life exactly as it is” BS isn’t coming from a series reg rolling in $$$. In fact, I haven’t had any career-changing bookings at all this year. But although I’m not as far along in my career as I’d like, I honestly feel like I’ve made it already. And that freedom gives me the desire and openness to play in audition rooms.
We’ve all heard the definition of acting as “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances”. I don’t know about you, but the only way I can live truthfully is by being 100% myself. Those imaginary circumstances will be handed to you in the form of sides and maybe a script likely a day or two before your audition. You can deal with that part then. BUT the whole “living truthfully” part is something you can, and, IMO, should, practice your entire life. After all, if you’re being called in for a part, casting, Producers, and Directors, want to see YOU. And wouldn’t that audition be a lot easier and more enjoyable if you were proud of who you are and excited to show everyone exactly who you are in the imaginary circumstances provided you?
This seems contradictory to me, but a lot of actors seem to have resistance when it comes to showing people their authentic selves. There are walls. There is a fear of not being good enough. But that’s what being an actor is all about. Being you. In every imaginable situation.
So how do you learn to love being yourself? By learning to love and appreciate your life exactly as it is.
When you accomplish this, bookings don’t matter. And when you have no attachment to the result, you are free and have fun in every audition room! Afterwards, you get to go back to your amazingly awesome life and you frankly don’t give a crap what happens in the room or what anyone in there thinks of you.
Yes, traffic sucks. Rent payments suck. This heat wave really sucks. And when the hell am I finally gonna get that elusive next-level booking? But here are a few things in life you can control:
- Surround yourself with ONLY positive, supportive, nurturing, and inspiring people. If you don’t know any in real life, find some inspirational blogs on the internet or meet some new friends on Bumble. Or hey, join the supportive, talented, go-getters in the Career ACTivate Elite Program!
- Eat healthy. Ok, writing this makes me a hypocrite. So if, like me, boxed mac ‘n cheese happens to bring you joy, do it. Just…everything in moderation.
- Remind yourself that you get to wake up every day and pursue your dream career, which is a privilege many will never have.
- Recognize that you were called to this career for a reason. The world needs to see you for the unique weirdo you are. So accept yourself, improve what you can, and leave the rest of the quirks in place. They’ll make you stand out from everyone else in the room. Frankly, there ain’t nobody like you at all.
All this is taken care of before I ever get sides and an audition timeslot. But when I do- I can already guarantee I won’t be nervous, I can’t wait to imbue the character with every applicable aspect of my humanity, I’m ready to have fun in the room, and I won’t give a crap about the outcome.
The only thing left to do is a little background research on the project, learn the sides, and pick an outfit. Then go in, kill it, and go right back to living your awesome life as your totally awesome self.