Cast It Talent #FBF: Audition Do’s (and Dont’s)

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Do
arrive early.

This can be quite the challenge in a city like LA (highways! gridlocks! construction! more highways!), but always do absolutely everything in your power to arrive to your audition ahead of schedule. Not only will you avoid being the one to keep others waiting (never a good thing), but you’ll also have the benefit of arriving to your audition fresh, calm, and in control.

Do give yourself plenty of leeway with parking.

This one seems to overlap with the previous tip about arriving early, but do all you can to be smart about your parking. If at all possible, take advantage of the internet to scope out your audition location in advance, so that you know ahead of time whether you’ll need to be on the lookout for street parking, whether there are meters around (many meters now accept credit/debit cards, but always have quarters on you, just in case!), etc. And speaking of meters: when in doubt, it’s most certainly better to overfeed the meter than underfeed. If the audition slots have been scheduled in 15 minute increments, it may seem logical to stick in a single quarter and go. But do you really want to cut it close, and take the chance that you go into your audition, rock the reading, receive some notes from the auditors, get asked to stick around for a moment to meet someone else or to read alongside another actor . . . and be secretly sweating as you worry about your now-expired meter?? Helpful life tip: LA parking enforcement has absolutely no problem ticketing you (and–if you accumulate enough tickets and fail to pay them in a timely manner–tow you too!). Sometimes you’ve just gotta invest the quarters.

 Do be mindful of the impression you’re making, from the moment you step out of your car.

Not only will it help your mindset (and ultimately, your audition) if you are calm, confident, and prepared before walking into the building . . . but you also never know if your skid-into-the-parking-space-bump-the-car-in-front-of-you-rant-inside-your-car-for-a-few-minutes-slam-your-skirt-in-the-door-drop-all-of-your-papers-sprint-into-the-building-like-you’re-on-fire routine is potentially being observed by the very people you’ll be trying so hard to impress 10 minutes later. Be calm. Be confident. Breathe!

 Do be polite to everyone.

Sure, you have a million things on your mind. You may be running a tad late and have your head stuck in angry-traffic mode, or you may be the type who doesn’t like to socialize and get out of the “zone” before an audition. But if you wait til the minute you walk into the actual audition room to “turn it on” and be the person you’re wanting the auditors to see, you might find yourself in a sad state when the old man whose “hi” you blew off in the elevator turns out to be the casting director. Likewise, once you get into the lobby or waiting room, be sure to be courteous to the person checking you in–and anyone else you come across as well. You have no idea who is watching, and if you’re really exceptionally unpleasant to be around while you (and others) wait, you can be fairly certain that this news will get relayed to the powers that be.

 Do be prepared with headshot and resume stapled neatly together, along with anything else you’re supposed to bring or believe you might need.

Keep a few extra copies of your resume and headshot handy. Bring a pencil and maybe a highlighter for working on any sides that may be given. It’s never a bad idea to stash a bottle of water in your bag–you never know whether the lobby you’re waiting in will (or won’t) have a water fountain handy, and you’ve got plenty of details to worry about without a dry throat being one of them. Other ideas for stashing in your bag are: brush or comb, makeup for touchups, cough drops, emergency stain remover (latte stain be gone!), deodorant, mouthwash, toothbrush, eye drops, wrinkle remover spray for clothes (sitting long enough in traffic can defy even the best-ironed pants), phone charger, book to read, and a granola bar or other easy, portable snack for keeping up your energy when you find that 30-minute audition creeping into its 5th hour . . .

 Do practice impeccable hygiene.

This might sound like a total no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many actors seem to forget this extremely simple thing. How would you prepare if you had landed an interview for your dream job at a big-shot Fortune 500 company? No doubt, you’d be sure to shower, do your hair, smell nice, wear clean clothes, etc. . . . and for an audition, you should behave no differently. Sure, you might be wearing casual clothes instead of a suit, or deliberately sporting a 5 o’clock shadow (see the next section on remembering to “dress the part”), but you can make those character choices while still projecting to others that you care about your appearance, and did not roll out of bed this morning and fall straight out the door. Look clean. Smell clean. Don’t be the guy who’s managed to achieve a 6 foot radius of totally empty seats around him even though the room is packed.

 Do remember to dress the part.

Actors have debated forever the merits of showing up to an audition “in costume” . . . . and while you may feel that a full costume will ensure that you get into character, and that it will certainly help–or, eh, force–the casting director to see you as a surgeon or a hooker or a zombie, you may want to err on the side of caution. Some casting directors feel that costumed actors are distracting, or that the actor doesn’t trust them to make their own connections based on the actor’s performance. To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to suggest the part without dressing in costume. Dark, neatly-pressed pants and shirt will work for a cop without needing to show up brandishing handcuffs and a badge, and a trendy, body-conscious dress and heels can take the place of full-on hooker garb, while still (tastefully!) conveying that you have the body type and physique they’re requesting for the role.

That’s it for Part I . . . be sure to check back for Part II!

 

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Elizabeth Elizabeth Sekora is an actress and classically trained soprano living in Los Angeles. She has 24 years of experience in theatre, film, opera, television, and voiceover work, and holds a Bachelor of Music degree from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. www.elizabethsekora.com.