Inspiration for the Aggrieved Actor

I recently scored an audition for a friend for a studio film. She did everything right: had her headshot and resume printed, highlighted her sides, prepared the scenes days ahead of time. She even had me run through the sides with her the night before so I could give her direction. This was her first big Hollywood audition and she was excited. When I showed up to work, however, I was instructed to cancel everyone scheduled that day for the role she was supposed to read for, because an offer was being sent out. I had to deliver the unfortunate news that after all of her preparations, my friend was no longer coming in. She was crushed.

This is a common occurrence in Hollywood. You prepare for an audition day and night, and BAM—just like that, the role is no more. It got me thinking: Where is the respect for actors? After all, you show up early to an audition and end up waiting an hour to get in the door, or you spend an entire weekend with your acting coach to find out that Monday’s audition is canceled because they offered it to some name actor. It can get discouraging and feel like you are constantly being hit with disrespect and disappointment. My advice to you simply is this: keep your chin up. It happens all the time. Sometimes there’s legitimate excuse for the dismissal of an actor’s time and efforts; then again, there often is. It is quite common for films, especially studio features, to offer a role to a “name” even though casting has been auditioning a slew of actors. Casting offices move at lightning speed; offers are made overnight, schedules conflict on multiple projects, and roles are written out of the script.

Rather than becoming dejected, you should use these situations as learning tools and turn them into positive experiences. For example, if you self-taped an audition for a role that is no longer available, and it’s good, save the video(s) for yourself! Often times, if you do not have a demo reel, prospective agents/managers are more than happy to watch a recent audition of yours (see How to Make the Perfect Audition Video for more).  If you feel especially passionate about a role, and have already recorded an audition or prepared the material, you can try sending your video to casting anyway. Assuming that your video is good, you may very well catch their eye for another role in that project, or at least be on their radar for future projects. A word of caution: this strategy of sending in your audition video is really only feasible (and appropriate) if you have an agent/manager that can advocate for you and make sure casting is okay with receiving your audition. Casting offices are very busy and don’t like it when actors send unsolicited videos/materials their way, regardless of how “passionate” you are about a project.

There are things that you can control, and there are the things that you cannot. Do not let the frustrations distract you from your ultimate goal. Prepare for every audition, show up on time, and make sure you keep a smile on your face. It is so common for actors to go into an audition and get great feedback from casting, but hear that they are not going any further, that the casting office either offered the role to a well-known actor, or decided to go with someone that has more credits. Focus on the positive here—you have impressed the casting director or producer. You have room to grow as an actor. I have often witnessed an actor come in for one project, and a week later they are back in our office auditioning for a role on another. At some point everyone gets discouraged, has second thoughts, and wants to quit. But they don’t—they keep trying.   And so should you.

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lauren began her casting career as an intern for Sarah Finn Casting on films such as Captain America, Cowboys & Aliens, TRON: Legacy, and Faster. After her six month internship, she returned for her final semester of college, where she went on to become a casting director in Wilmington, NC on various independent films. She also spent over a year as a casting assistant with an independent casting director and acted in multiple films. She is currently working with Marcia Ross & Erin Toner Casting and also works as an actor and in production.

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