If you’re not getting as many acting callbacks as you’d like, check out these audition tips as you prepare your next acting auditions. These free acting tips take you through the audition process, from making a good impression as you walk into the audition room to leaving the room with the auditioner wanting more. These audition tips will be useful whether you attend a theater, film or commercial audition.
1) Audition Tips for Arriving at the Casting Call
Make sure you arrive at your acting audition 15 minutes early. This will give you time to freshen up, fill out any audition forms and prepare. There will usually be a sign-in sheet outside the audition room. If this is a cold reading, there will be a bunch of sides (i.e. audition scenes) next to the sign-in sheet.
Audition Tip: If you want more time to prepare, come in earlier but don’t sign in until you’re ready to go in the room. This way, you can study the audition script as long as you want without any pressure to go in until you’re ready.
Make sure you have your acting picture and resume in hand before you walk in the audition room. Auditions are typically around 5 minutes long, you don’t want to use up that precious time fishing around your bag for your headshot.
Feeling nervous? The more important the acting audition, the more that’s likely to happen. Here’s a few audition tips on how to turn performance anxiety into self-confidence:
- Stay away from other actors. Stage fright is contagious, plus you don’t want to compare yourself to an actor auditioning for the same part as you. Create your own space and try to shut out the world around you so you can prepare and focus.
- Do a relaxation exercise. If you went to acting school, you probably have worked hours on relaxation and breathing exercises. Now’s the time to use them. Concentrate on breathingdeeply and slowly from your midsection, letting go of tension in a different part of your body with each breath, from head to toe.
- Work on concentration. Relaxation and breathing exercises should help get you centered. Now use your audition piece to completely focus. Imagine you’re the character in your audition piece. Try to remember as the character what you had for breakfast or what you did yesterday. Think as the character about the people you love, those you hate, those you’re having a conflict with. Play in your mind what just happened before the audition scene or monologue you’re about to perform. This audition tip will help you channel your previous nervousness into the character’s emotional life.
- Give yourself the acting role. As an actor, our imagination is our greatest ally. Imagine you’ve got the role and you’re coming in to rehearse. This audition tip doesn’t apply to everyone, but if a lack of self-confidence is making you nervous, this tool can be a great help.
Talking about confidence… You’re next. Let’s enter the audition room.
2) Audition Tips for Making a good First Impression
Long before you start your acting audition piece, a casting director has an opinion of who you are from the way you walk in the room and introduce yourself.
Here are a few audition tips to help you make a great first impression:
- Smile. A smile is worth a thousand words and will help relax you and your audience. Imagine a friend in place of the auditioner(s) and greet them with a warm confident smile.
- Make eye contact. Sometimes, when we’re nervous, we tend to look away, so make sure to look people in the eye when you speak.
- Check your body language. Don’t let the awkwardness of standing in front of seated “judges” make you fidget or cross your arms or do any of the other telltale signs of an uncomfortable actor. There is tremendous power in stillness, so use an approach like the Alexander Technique to center yourself. If you’ve already practiced this in audition technique class, even better.
- Take the lead. Don’t wait for something to happen. When you enter the room, greet everyone and introduce yourself. Make contact with a simple question like “How’s your day going so far?” and hand over your headshot and resume. If you are at a film or commercial audition, find your mark and stand on it.
Acting audition tip: You can use the research you did to prepare for your audition to break the ice if you feel it’s appropriate. For example, if the director is in the room and you just saw their last film, you could briefly mention it.
- Don’t rush… Talk to the auditioner, not at them. When you ask a question, wait for an answer.
- …but don’t linger. The goal is to make a good impression in a few short exchanges. A casting director will not appreciate you putting them behind schedule, plus your audition monologue could be cut short as a result. Commercial auditions are particularly fast.
- Don’t make excuses. Don’t preamble your audition piece with something like, “I only had an hour to prepare this audition piece, so bear with me” or “I’m a little under the weather today”. Actors make these statements all the time and they never help them make a good impression. Just do the best you can.
- Don’t make up questions. Often, a casting director will ask you if you have any questions. That’s just a courtesy question and doesn’t mean you need to have a question. If you don’t, a simple “Not for the time being, thank you” works great.
And don’t forget the simple but important piece of advice in this video about commercial auditions that is valid for any audition…
To Shake or Not to Shake?
Some casting directors don’t like to shake actors’ hands, especially during flu and cold season, so take your cue from them. If they extend out their hands, great. If not, a friendly smile from you will make contact just as well as a handshake.
No one finds it easy to stand performing in front of others and be judged. Here’s a few audition tips of things to keep in mind to keep your sanity:
- You got called in to audition, so the casting director wants to meet you or thinks you could be right for the part. They want you to do well. They are on your side.
- Try to come across as wanting a role (being excited about it), not needing it. People are naturally drawn to those who seem not to need them too much. As a talented actor, you have a lot to bring to an acting role, so don’t sell yourself short by trying too hard to please or acting like your life depends on getting the role. Try to treat every audition as an exercise.
- Remember that auditioning is part of your job as an actor, so try to stay professional and don’t take notes or comments personally.
3) Audition Tips on Performing your Audition Piece
Weather you’ll be performing audition monologues, a prepared scene or a cold reading, here are some other general audition tips to keep in mind:
- Be prepared… The more you will have worked on your audition monologue or scene, the better chance you have of getting the acting job you want. Feel free to browse through these acting lessons for help working on an acting audition piece.
- …but be flexible. Don’t rehearse an audition piece so much that you can’t take directions from the casting director. You should make strong choices about your audition monologue or scene, but be ready to change those choices at the drop of a hat if the director takes you in another direction. Sometimes, a director will do that just to see if you would work well together. Rehearsing the scene different ways before the audition can help you take directions better.
- Know the lingo. If a casting director or director likes your work, they may give you notes and ask you to repeat your audition monologue or scene. They may ask you to change your objective and characterization or point to a particular movie or TV show to give you a sense of the style of the piece. Understanding acting terms and staying up to date with what is playing at the theater and on TV will help you deliver a good audition.
- Act for the camera. If the audition is being taped, make sure to look up so that the camera picks up the expression in your eyes. Practice by filming yourself at home, and read these acting tips for movie auditions for more on taped auditions.
- Make believe. Don’t pick up chairs and hurl them across the room just because your audition piece is a fight scene. Don’t invade the space of the casting director or reader by touching them or getting into their faces (this is a big one, you may never be called in again to audition!) If the audition scene requires a physical action of this sort, suggest the action or ask the auditioners beforehand how they would like you to handle it.
Costumes and propsAn acting audition is not a performance. Wearing a costume or bringing props will make you look amateurish. Rather then dress the part, suggest the part. If you’re an actress auditioning for a period piece or classical theatre, wear a long skirt to the audition. If you’re an actor auditioning for a tough guy role, consider an unshaven look. If the audition script absolutely requires a prop, the casting director will provide it. The only prop you could get away with using is your cellphone, but make sure it’s turned off. You don’t want it to ring in the middle of your audition!
Doing an audition monologue?
If you’re performing audition monologues, it’s best to announce the play each audition monologue is from before you start, along with the author. For more audition tips on how to choose and perform audition monologues, click here.
Doing an audition scene or cold reading?
If you’re not doing an audition monologue, you’ll either be reading from prepared audition scenes or give a cold reading. Click here for audition tips on how to nail prepared audition scenes and here for cold readings techniques.
Exiting the audition room is as much of an art as entering it… The best audition tip we can give here is to make a quick and clean exit.
- Don’t linger waiting for a reaction or approval from your audience.
- Don’t try to strike up a conversation or ask when the callbacks will be.
- Don’t make excuses for yourself if you feel your audition didn’t go well.
- Don’t explain why you played the audition scene the way you did.
- Don’t rush out of the room. The idea is to leave promptly, not to run away. After all, the auditioners may want to talk to you or see the scene again.
Leave the casting director wanting to see more. Just make a short pause after you finish your audition monologue or scene to signify you’re done, give a warm smile and take your leave with something simple like “thank you” and “nice meeting you”. This shows a confident and professional actor with a potentially busy schedule.
Here’s an important audition tip…
Once you leave the audition room, find a reason to linger outside for a few minutes (you could check your cellphone messages or your daily planner). This is especially important if you’re auditioning for more then one person. A lot of the time, auditioners will talk among themselves after you leave the room and realize they want to see you do the scene again. Not leaving too quickly could get you an acting callback!
Talking about callbacks… Check out our audition callbacks tips to get the most out of your callback.
Hope these audition tips and acting tips help you reach that magic moment when the phone rings and you get the job!
Before we start, check out these tips on how to best prepare for your acting audition. If you’re looking for acting tips on how to find acting auditions, click here. Also consider taking a good audition technique class.
Here’s one last audition tip and maybe the most important of all – have fun! There are few professions like acting where you are constantly looking for a job as part of your career. The constant judging and rejections can get trying if you make your acting auditions just about getting the job, so remember to enjoy the process and the excitement of going after a part!
If you enjoyed reading this page, you will love my new e-book, Become an Actor. It includes tips like these for every step of the process of becoming an actor. Click here to learn more about how this book can be helpful to you.