I recently had 4 on-camera auditions, plus a callback — all within the span of a week. The biggest market is Los Angeles, which is not where I am. So to have 5 opportunities in a short period of time was exciting.
I usually do my best, try to be happy with my performance in the room and move onto the next order of business in life. I’ve been auditioning for yeeeaars and seen a few things, Doll.
(puffs, candy cigarette, exhales)
However, after seeing a good number of fellow actors in a short period of time, I had to share some of my thoughts on the business of auditioning. I put this up on my Facebook page and one of my friends said, ‘I think this works for everyday events as well.’ I had to agree and have edited it with additional information for non-actor application.
1. Have a current headshot
Sorry, one from 5 years ago isn’t good enough. Show the casting directors you’re a professional. Stay current. If you’re still toting around a black & white headshot, why?
- Non-actors – Awhile ago, I had a blog meeting with someone from a large organization and first saw her LinkedIn photo. I absolutely didn’t recognize her when we met in-person and wouldn’t have been able to pick her out in a lineup. Use a current photo on LinkedIn, your company bio, your real estate marketing materials, etc…. Preferrably a clear one where we can see your face.
2. Plan for parking
Aaand keep your parking woes to yourself. Double parking or other ticket generating moves are going to stress you out as you wait for your name to be called. Why take away from your positive auditioning mojo by being worried whether your car is getting a ticket. Or towed. Yes, sometimes we’re in a time pinch. But consistently not having quarters for the meter or asking to go ahead of others who are waiting because you didn’t plan for parking is disrespectful to everyone, including disrespectful to your performance in the room.
- Non-actors – The same applies. Plan ahead for parking. If you’re going to the same place every day for work, this might not be an issue. If parking is a daily challenge, plan for it as often as you can. Then leave your issues in the car. You just got in! Don’t spread misery in the office. If you’re going for a job interview, plan ahead so that you’re not on time, but early!
3. Plan for audition time
We beg and beg for auditions, get one, then do our best to get in & out of the room as fast as we can. Yes, we have day jobs, kids, parents to take care of, etc…but try to allow for 30-60 minutes when you have an audition. If you plan to be in and out, be prepared to be hit with Murphy’s Law. Take it from me, when you plan for 30 min or more, odds are that you will be in and out in less time.
- Non-actors – You know how long those staff meetings take. You probably already know whether the meeting needs to even happen or not. Don’t burn energy wishing you didn’t have to go if you’re required to show up. Mentally and physically “drop in.” If you’re invested, the hands on the clock will move much faster than if you’re not.
4. Take a commercial workshop
Especially if you’re a newbie and/or have never had a class. PLEASE take classes! Are you a seasoned professional? Please take a class if you haven’t worked or auditioned in a long time. Trends change in the business. Learn about the new ones. Don’t let your audition time be your rehearsal time.
- Non-actors – Are you missing certifications that will bump up your pay grade? Will taking a social media class help you in the effort for a job search? Take a class or classes to increase your knowledge. It will also increase your confidence. Listen, the time is going to pass regardless. I know people who have thought about going back to school and decided not to. They could have had two degrees by now, plus been in a better job. Also, consider traveling to take a course. I’ve traveled to L.A. a number of times to take acting classes that weren’t offered in my area. Make a mini vacation out of it if the course you want is in another city. Or state!
5. See #4
Because some of you are losing the job at at the slate. When you don’t know what a mark is, how to look for it and stand on it, why should anyone hire you for a part on their multi-million dollar product launch or TV commercial? If you don’t know how to slate your name with confidence or take direction well, they’re not going to want to hire you and spend all day teaching what you should have learned in class.
- Non-actors – Are you missing out on being credible in the workplace because you lack presence? Introduce yourself to people who don’t know you. When I worked at a bank, I had no problem chatting it up with the CEO when I crossed paths with him at the coffee pot. Co-workers were in awe, but I reminded them that he’s a human being like the rest of us. I learned that he had season tickets to a local theatre, which was something we discussed when we crossed paths. I also learned that his son was attending my alma mater, and we discussed that as well.
6. Be responsive
If your agent calls, texts or emails you, respond asap. Tip: assign your agents VIP status in your phone and email so that you’re alerted immediately. The casting directors (CDs) want and need to know if you’re going to be able for the audition time or not. The CDs have fought to be able to cast these jobs. Let’s help make them look good. Furthermore, clients don’t want to spend time and money auditioning mediocre talent. Be professional in all the ways you can.
- Non-actors – Just answer the dang email. Return the phone call. Don’t procrastinate. The good news is that formality has been reduced and — in some cases — removed. It’s even more acceptable than ever to make quick responses. If you struggle with telephone communication, write down your key points. Try to say them out loud at least once before calling. If you can. If not, keep moving and dial that number anyway. Don’t pretend the contact was never made or lost in your email box. Act!
7. For the love of gawd, commercials are positive, happy events
Take an improv class to learn what an “offer” is, how to give one and how to accept one. I never want to be in an audition room, hearing you saying, “I don’t think that’s going to work” or other negatives that drag down a performance. Unless the script directs you to be doubtful or upset, be positive.
- Non-actors – In a job you dislike? Listen up. Feel gratitude that you have one. Feel this gratitude at all times. Sour grapes gets more sour grapes. If people see you grumbling around the office, do you think they’re going to recommend you when a position opens up? Hey, remember that bank CEO I would talk to at the coffee pot? I was technically an employee for an insurance company contracted by the bank and we had a desk there, hence my presence in the office. One day, my boss (the ins company owner) told me that the bank was thinking of asking me to be on their marketing team. They were going to create a new role for me! See how I did that? Role. (slaps knee) Well, my boss didn’t want me going anywhere, so I got a raise even though I didn’t say that I would leave if I got an offer from the bank. I ended up leaving the insurance company to devote myself to acting full/time, but I will always remember that as a good lesson. You never know who’s watching you or when out of no way, a way will be made. Check out Brittany D King’s story.
8. When we give good auditions, clients are happy
As a result, the reputation of SF actors is built in positive way and we get repeat business. When we don’t do well, we all suffer.
- Non-actors – Sometimes you’re representing your company, organization, agency, but all times you’re representing yourself. Provide good service. Your work and future business depend on it. If you want out of your job and want to start your own business, think of your job as a silent, investing partner. It can help you stay financially afloat so you can kick off your endeavor as a side-hustle. Also, you can probably learn a lot about business right where you are, right now. You’ll be able to apply the knowledge to your side-hustle as you work on turning it into a career. Stay alert, friend.
9. Actors, anyone, everyone…share this on your page. Please!
Suggested SF Bay Area acting resources:
SF Acting Academy
You are lucky if you can take any class given by Deb Fink, Zoe Galvez or Paul Ghiringhelli. All three are seasoned, working professionals. Oh — and don’t assume that a teleprompter job is “just reading.” Have some respect for the craft and take a class. It’s going to look like you’re reading on-camera and that’s no bueno. http://www.sfactingacademy.com/ . I took prompter at Voice One.
Tina D’Elia Consulting
Teaches acting workshops approx once/mo. I highly recommend her as well. Let her teach you why “it’s a good day” and how to have one when you’re auditioning. I took and recommend her public speaking workshop. There were about 3 actors/performers and 7-8 business people/non-performers. I highly recommend it.
Tom Chantler VO
Tom Chantler – If you need help in the voiceover world. Please. Seek professional help! Sounding ‘good’ is not good enough. Invest in worthy instruction that’s going to put you on the path to booking.