I may call myself a Failed Actress, a term most actors should embrace and accept with a sense of humor, but I have landed a number of roles, and those experiences have taught me a few things about auditioning.
The Seven Most Important Rules of Auditioning:
1). Arrive early. Never, ever come late. If you do, you will not be cast, period. They will toss your expensive headshot in the trashcan once you walk out of the door (though they might do that anyway).
2). Be crazy prepared. Have at least three different styles of monologues fully memorized. Some people say to have six, but I have never needed more than three. Know them so well that you can casually improvise if you stumble on a line. Many castings prefer having you read from sides these days. Treat sides like you would a monologue and memorize them so you are not glued to the page. If it’s a cold read, you’re either really talented or you’re really screwed.
Also, have a professional headshot. Casting directors have no patience for photos taken by friends that you had blown up at Rite Aid. Again, they will be tossed in the trashcan.
3) Dress The Part (Within Reason) You want to show that you can easily pull off the style of the part you want. You want makeup that subtly adds drama to your naturally fabulous face. But whatever you decide to wear, don’t be that person who shows up in Elizabethan costume or a poodle skirt.
4) DO NOT TOUCH THE CASTING DIRECTOR or LOOK AT THEM DURING YOUR MONOLOGUE! This one is important. Smile, acknowledge them when you first walk in the door, and when you exit, but DO NOT shake their hands, hug them, or focus on them whilst performing. They don’t want to be touched, and actors are especially germy. Staring at them makes them feel awkward. The one exception of staring is when they are reading a scene with you, but still, don’t touch. During your monologue, find a focal point in the general direction of the casting director, pretend it’s a person, and talk to it.
5) Never Apologize or Make Excuses Nobody cares. Nobody cares if you are sick. Nobody cares if your grandma just died. Nobody cares if all the subways in Manhattan stopped running due to a bomb threat. Plus you don’t want to be that guy or girl who says “I’m sorry” all the time. Again, headshot in the trashcan.
6) Stop Giving A Shit Some of my best auditions were when I just didn’t give a shit. People perform better when they are relaxed and don’t get too attached to a part. There are hundreds of auditions a day, so move on, and don’t quit your bartending job just yet.
Also, VERY IMPORTANT: Any truly professional theatrical or film audition has probably PRE-CAST the most significant roles. Trust me, I’ve been on the other side of the audition room many times. Also, most Equity and Non-Equity cattle calls are a waste of time. If you have ever been cast through a massive cattle call, please feel free to correct me. Otherwise, don’t bother with them. Unless you just want to have the hilarious experience of watching hundreds of hopeful actors re-applying their makeup and doing theater warm-ups in the hallway. That can be funny.
7) Break a leg! Literally. Because then you’ll be so distracted by the pain of your leg that you won’t even remember the pain of not being cast. Plus, you’ll get painkillers from your doctor.