7 Tips for Mastering the Print Audition

8300574If you’re an actor who has never thought of doing print ads, allow me to enlighten you. Prints ads are a great way to supplement income and build a portfolio. You could pave the way to being the next Nicole Kidman, raking in the cash merely by wearing a diamond encrusted pink ladywatch (fundamentally different than watches for dudes, because pink). It’s lucrative, it’s fun, and anyone can find their niche. You just have to nail the audition, which is what we’re here to figure out.

  1. If you’re just starting out in the print ad game, the initial audition is likely to be cattle call style. Get SOLID sleep and drink plenty of water the night before to make sure you are fresh faced. Allow yourself plenty of time to find parking and the venue, because it is likely to be packed and might involve unconventional spaces.
  2. Set yourself apart. Right now you’re aiming for a callback. Unlike film and theatre auditions where you have lines, here you’ll have to showcase your personality with nothing but your appearance, expression and body language. Do what you have to do to be relaxed and let the real you shine through. They’ll be looking for types, so be specific about the part of your personality you’re trying to highlight.
  3. Make it personal. Have fun. Make a little chit chat with the monitors, strike up banter with the photographer. (Enough to make you friendly and memorable, but not so much that they feel like you’re harassing them or wasting their time). Keep it light and fun. Show them a person with whom they will want to work.
  4. Don’t hold your breath. It’s a weird unconscious habit, but many actors accidentally find themselves holding their breath as the shot is being taken. (I’ve certainly done it). Breathing naturally will keep your body looking relaxed and accessible, and your expression more open.
  5. Part your lips. If they ask for a subtle smile, go for slightly parted lips rather than locked down Mona Lisa. Again, this will make your face less closed, and invite the viewer to relate.
  6. Energize your body. Remember, they’re looking for the whole package. Shake it out before the shot if you need to, and then remember to keep your whole body alert and engaged—the energy will translate.
  7. Have a point of view. Whatever you are asked to look at, be it into the camera, over the photographer’s shoulder, or at another person, try to make a personal connection. If they don’t give you direction, imagine a scenario, or pretend you have a secret you might tell. Get specific about who you are and what you want in that fraction of a moment. A strong point of view will reach off the page and help tell the story, which is what they’re looking for.

Print ads can be your bread and butter. If you’ve never done modeling work, think of it like a mix between acting and taking headshots. The encapsulated nature of print work will help you hone your acting technique—you are forced to be inventive, uncompromisingly specific and to think on your feet. It’s a win-win, so start auditioning!


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Rachel Rachel Frawley is an actor living in Atlanta. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University (with cognates in Music and Professional Writing) and is an Apprentice Company graduate from the Atlanta Shakespeare Co. She also works as an education artist for local theatres, which have included the Shakespeare Tavern and Aurora Theatre. For more information, visit her website at www.rachelfrawley.com