Auditions Can Really Be That Bad

I wrote last week how being on TV is fun.

Auditions, however, not so much.

Have you seen the Academy Award winning movie La La Land? I rented it last weekend and was charmed. And more than a little horrified by a couple of the auditions Emma Stone’s character, Mia, had to endure. True, I’ve never had a casting director take a phone call in the middle of my highly emotional audition…yet, being an actor, I can imagine what that would feel like. (By the way, Stone deserved her Oscar for that scene alone, in my humble opinion, not to mention all that singing and dancing, and how impressed I’ve been by her work in other films.)

I’m writing this after an…audition. Across town in north Portland. For a short film. I believe the audition went well, even though I flubbed some words. The director said encouraging things. But then I felt my last short film audition went great, too; that director also said encouraging things, and I didn’t get the part. I really wanted that part.

Sometimes you just don’t know. And the truth of the matter is…if you fit the “look” the director has in mind, that’s 75% of the battle; regardless of how talented or skilled you are as an actor. Sometimes you’re just not right for the part physically. Other times, you just blow it. And you know you blew it. That sucks big time.

While I’m awaiting the results of my audition, here are four things to remember – not just for auditions, but for anything in life you want, but you have to go through something you don’t want – to get there. Like a job interview. A public presentation. Meeting the potential in-laws. Or your new gynecologist…or dentist…

  1. Do your homework.

You’re often sent “sides,” select pages from a script or screenplay, before the audition. (I’ll leave monolog auditions out of this, as I haven’t done them often and apparently don’t excel at them either.) Read the sides. Familiarize yourself with the director’s work, and vision for the play or film, as much as possible ahead of time. Put yourself in the character’s shoes and feel what the character would feel. Read the lines aloud with emotion.

  1. But don’t over-prepare.

Once you’re cast in a show, there’s no such thing as too much preparation. You have lines to learn, rehearsals to attend, and will be doing the same scenes over and over until the right balance is achieved. Repetition is your friend, as long as you stay fully present, creative, and open to new ideas throughout the process.

When it comes to auditions, however, trying to nail down exactly how you’re going to “do it” ahead of time will kill your creativity and spontaneity. You’re already nervous. You don’t want to be a perfectly prepared cardboard caricature; you want to be a receptive and generous human being, sharing the emotions running through your body.

  1. Remember to breathe. Deep belly breathing calms everything, including performance anxiety. Here’s a reminder of how to properly breathe, from my 10-minute mini-voice lesson. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjUERjaRIv8&feature=youtu.be.

I also recommend Josh Pais’ Committed Impulse program: http://committedimpulse.com/. It’s from Josh I learned the four key reminders: BREATHE, SEE WHAT IS IN FRONT OF YOU, FEEL THE SENSATIONS IN YOUR BODY, YOU’RE BACK. His process is brilliant.

  1. Do what scares you a little, and do it often. The only way of getting over the fear of auditions is to audition. And I know from personal experience it doesn’t work if you only audition once a year.

Honoring your inner actor really means honoring the full expression of your inner authentic self and voice in the world.

PS: I just found out I, again, didn’t get the part. This time I called the director and asked why. He said while I’d read well, and he appreciated how my tears came at the end and everything…only one of the six actresses he’d read jumped right off the page and into the character, exactly as he’d written it, with the right vibe.

To me, this means it wasn’t the right part for me either. Mia, in La La Land, ended up writing a one-woman show. Even though it seemed like a disaster at first, that show lead her to her true purpose.

How can you do that this week? Let us know on the blog!

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If the idea of speaking in public about your business or non-profit leaves you wanting to crawl under the covers and hide all day, e-mail me at laurahanj@comcast.net to learn more about Authentic Performance for Speakers: Speaking with Impact! Speak about your passion with passion and inspire people to work with you.

Authentically Yours, Laura