Auditions shouldn’t be stressful. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. All you have to do is be reasonably prepared with your material and come into the room calm and confident enough to let your real self shine through.
Unfortunately, far too often, very good actors don’t get parts that they should because they find ways to sabotage themselves during the audition process. Here are a few of the biggest ways that actors get in their own way during auditions.
- Psyching themselves out/putting too much pressure on themselves
It always seems like the more you want something, the worse you will do in the room, or at least that’s how it seems with me when I audition. Sure, a lot is riding on it, perhaps (but perhaps not), and, on the other hand, what do you have to lose? The more you can reframe the audition process and think of it this way — here is something I made for you, here is what I can do, take it or leave it — the better off you will be. This goes along with No. 2 (preparation) below, but if you are prepared and think of the audition as an opportunity to perform, rather than a situation where you’re just going to be judged, things will be a lot easier for you. And there will always be another audition opportunity that comes your way. This is not “it” for you — I promise! And if you think this is “it” for you, contact me for a pep talk — I will give it to you!
- Not preparing enough beforehand
It’s really best for an actor to prepare well in advance of an audition and to know how to work efficiently. If you don’t know the right way to work, it’s probably time to get some good acting training under your belt and to work with an acting coach (or at least an actor friend you trust to give you good, constructive and non-judgmental advice). The short answer is that you need to work to find a deep personal connection to the material and understand very well the given circumstances of the scene or monologue that you are preparing. And if you are only given the scene the one to two days before the audition, or the night before, or merely hours or minutes ahead of time, you need to be able to work efficiently under these time constraints.If you are in charge of putting together a monologue package for yourself, do not wait until a few days before your audition to start working on a new monologue. Give yourself plenty of time, which will reduce the pressure on yourself the day of.
- Over-rehearsing the day of auditions
But wait, you just said in No. 2 to be prepared! Exactly, but I find that over-rehearsing too much on the day of your audition can get you into your head on the day of the audition, and the best place for you to be in order to nail an audition is prepared, relaxed, and ready to play. Getting yourself too into your head on the day of an audition will keep your focus inward instead of outward, which is where we want you to be. We want you refreshed, relaxed, and the best version of yourself on the day of an audition, which is why I recommend getting as prepared you can be in the days leading up to the audition, and the day of the audition maybe do a quick refresher, but put the focus on relaxing, warming up, and give yourself plenty of time to get to the audition so you are not rushed. Also, do something fun ahead of time that gets you into the head space that you need to be in order to really feel ready. For instance, if the character that you are playing is a bartender, maybe you can wander in to have a cup of tea (not a cocktail) at a dive bar a few hours before the audition and observe the atmosphere.
- Not warming up/relaxing ahead of time
A lot of actors shoot themselves in the foot by not warming up before an audition. What does “warming up” mean? It can mean a lot of things, but mainly involves doing some vocal and/or physical exercises to make sure that your body and voice are warm, and not cold. Your audition performance should not be the first thing you do with your body and voice that day, so do whatever you think will be helpful to you in order to really feel ready, whatever that means to you. I highly recommend some breathing exercises (a good one is to lay on the ground and just breathe for 10 to 15 minutes), humming to warm up your voice, or a few easy vocal exercises that you feel comfortable doing without strain, and something physical, such as stretching, jogging, or yoga sun salutations (the perfect warm-up to marry the breath with the body). When you get to the audition location, arrive early so you can do some deep breathing ahead of time and/or some stretching so that you can release any unwanted tension prior to walking in the room.
- Punishing themselves afterwards
All of us have been guilty of punishing ourselves if the audition didn’t go well, or, if you’re like me, even if it did go well. Let’s not do that to ourselves! This is why I recommend that you do something nice for yourself after every audition—it can be something big like taking yourself out to dinner or a movie after the audition, or something small like getting yourself a small size your favorite latte afterwards. Maybe it’s time to go back to that dive bar and finally have that cocktail! Whatever it is, make it something fun, and along the way encourage yourself to let go of any judgmental thoughts about “how it went,” because it’s over now. Time to let it go, give it up to the universe, and live in the moment.