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The Business of Auditioning

Auditioning is the job; acting is the fun. You will spend more time auditioning than you will performing, so get comfortable with auditions so you can put your best foot forward. As a director, I have cast many different shows and seen hundreds of actors in auditions. I can't tell you how many times an actor was not even considered for a job because:

1. They walked out of frame.
2. They were clueless about the script.
3. They didn't listen to instructions.
4. They dressed poorly.
5. They forgot their headshots.

All the talent in the world won't help if you get cut before you even open your mouth.

The following steps can give you an advantage over other actors. They have nothing to do with talent, but are about the business of auditioning:

1) PREPARE FOR THE AUDITION - Get the script in advance, know your lines and understand the genre and the story line. Each of these elements are critical to giving a strong audition. Memorization is not necessary, but you have to really understand the character.

2) DRESS TO SUGGEST - You don't need to come in a nurse uniform or priest robes. Wear something that will suggest the character, not be the character. If your role isn't clothing specific, dress nicely. Don't show up in torn jeans and a t-shirt. Treat this like any job interview. Believe me, you will stand out if you wear a pair of slacks and a button up shirt or nice blouse.

3) BRING SEVERAL COPIES OF YOUR HEADSHOT - There may be more than one person that needs your headshot and resume. Don't assume they will have one on file, even if you or your agent sent one in.

4) BE EARLY - If an actor is late, I automatically think that they will always be late. Show respect for the casting director and come 10-15 minutes early. This will allow them greater flexibility when pairing up actors for scenes or helping smooth out a tight schedule. It also gives you a chance to settle in and relax. You can't get centered when you race into an audition.

5) USE YOUR TIME PRODUCTIVELY - When you arrive early, make sure you get any information you may need for the audition. The assistant who signs you in can be a wealth of information, so learn that person's name, be upbeat, and treat him or her with respect. The assistant will know of any changes or instructions from the casting director. They will also note any negative behavior on your part: if you are difficult while waiting for the audition, you will probably be difficult on the set.

6) BE CONFIDENT - When you walk into the audition room, be confident in your abilities. Your first impression can make or break the audition. Watch your body language. Stand tall, keep your arms open, look people in the eye and let them know you are prepared and ready to do this. The casting director really wants you to be good. I have never known anyone casting a production to want an actor to be bad. They are on your side, so use this to your advantage.

7) LOOK, LISTEN AND LEARN - Let them tell you what they need to and make sure you LISTEN. Look around the room and get your bearings. Before you begin you should know:

a) What the framing is (how much of you will be seen).
b) Where your mark is.
c) Who will be reading opposite you.
d) Where you should put your focus.
e) Where the microphone is.
f) How you should slate.

8) DON'T RUSH - Take the time you need (within reason) to begin and don't rush the scene. Take time with the beats and react to the situation. Most actors rush their auditions and look bad because of it. Take three deep, slow breaths before you begin your audition. This will help bring you down from your nerves. YOU are in charge in the audition.

9) USE WHAT YOU KNOW - This is where you take everything I've been writing about, make it all your own, and DO IT!

10) WAIT TO BE DISMISSED - Don't rush out of the audition room after your reading. You could be asked to read again, given different direction, asked about your resume or other experiences. Usually there will be a pause after you finish while the casting director decides what the next step will be.

11) SEND THANK YOU NOTES - You should always send a thank you note after an audition. Make certain you include a small picture, like a business card, with your name and contact information. Personalize the card with whatever you enjoyed about the audition.

These may seem like these are small things, but believe me when I say they are important. And considering that most of your audition tapes will be reviewed on fast forward, you need to do what you can to separate yourself from the rest of the pack. Just make certain you do it in the positive way.

By Robert Stewart. Robert is co-creator of iActing Studios.

Article printed with permission from and Rick La Fond. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. - iActing Studios is a premiere provider of Online Acting Classes. They feature hundreds of hours of in-depth classes; hosted by professional instructors and coaches who've taugh some of Hollywood's most famous A-listers.