Six Steps to Success: Handling the Pressure of Auditions

I have noticed in a lot of sessions lately that, when an actor gets nervous, they freeze up. This is of course a natural reaction for many. If you forget your lines or are overwhelmed because you feel out of your element, you often shut down and hit the panic button. The subsequent reactions can include tears, perspiration, and shortness of breath. Some actors are so distraught that they stop in the middle of their audition apologizing for wasting everyone’s time and high tail it out of the audition room.

I get it. It is a very scary thing to get up in front of people and perform. You are vulnerable and left to the mercy and judgment of the audience. But if you are stressing that hard every time you step in front of a casting director that you are practically running out of the room, you may be in the wrong profession.

Some anxiety, however, is normal. If you find it sometimes gets the best of you, fear not: there are some tips and tricks to keep your cool when under pressure during an audition.

  1. Take a breath! Breathing helps calm your nerves, so take slow, long breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. You will be surprised at how many people forget to simply breath.
  2. Remember the casting director is your friend. We are not in that audition room to look down upon you – we are cheering for you to succeed. We want you to do well. You could be the answer to our casting prayers.
  3. If you forget a line, DO NOT stop in the middle of a scene. Finish the rest of the scene and then the casting director will tell you if they want you to begin again. You never want to stop because you flubbed a line. The casting director may have loved everything you did until then and could edit around it. Lines do not always have to be perfect either. They are more looking for your essence of the character. You can always do the scene again.
  4. Hold your highlighted sides in your hand during your audition! So many actors forget their sides or put them away. If you forget a line, all you have to do is glance down and grab it.
  5. Do NOT look down the entire time you are reading. If you do not know your lines, at least know what the scene is about and what each character’s intent is in each line. (For advice on how to prepare your sides, check out the article How to Handle a Last-Minute Audition.) Watch the reader when they are talking, and when it is your turn, know your first line and glance down quickly to grab the next one. Do not simply read from the page. It sounds like you are reading and not acting. It looks bad on camera. It is going to lose you the job.
  6. Do not apologize for your audition. Ever. You may have done a great job, and the casting director may have loved your work. Even if it felt terrible to you, do not apologize. It makes you appear green and insecure, and it just plain looks bad.

The next time you find yourself sweating under pressure, remember there are simple things to get you through. And if you make a complete fool of yourself, just remember: you are acting! It is meant to be fun and silly.

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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.

One Comment

  1. Posted August 24, 2016 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    It is a very scary thing to get up in front of people and perform. You are vulnerable and left to the mercy and judgment of the audience. If you are too nervous to perform in front of live audience you can upload your videos and resumes at auditionfox.com

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