How to Get Auditions

Now that you know how to find auditions, let’s take a look at how to get auditions by submitting the right way to casting directors.

1) How to Submit to Auditions

First, you’ll need a headshot and resume. You will need several hard copies for mailings, as well as a digital copy for online submissions.

Most audition websites allow you to first create a profile where you can upload your headshot and resume, as well as select your age range and special skills. Some casting websites will also let you create a default cover letter and upload other useful tools like your acting reel. Once you’ve done all the groundwork of creating your profile, you can often submit to acting roles with one click of your mouse.

Some casting agencies require that a hard copy of your acting headshot and resume be sent to their address.

Don’t break the speed limit, but do try to get your submission to the casting director the same day the casting notice comes out. This is particularly true for commercial and TV auditions where the entire casting is usually done in a week. You may have to use a messenger service (there’s a special affordable service called Mobile Mailbox for actor submissions in Los Angeles). In some cases, you may be able to drop off your submission directly to the casting agency, but only do so if the casting director has a drop-off box for this purpose outside their office.

Speed is also of the essence in online actor submissions. Casting directors may only look at the first 50-100 submissions they receive, so visit audition websites regularly throughout the day.

Talking about speed… Don’t waste time on a long cover letter when submitting to auditions. Just label your picture and resume with the name of the character and project you want to be considered for. If you have a skill that makes you particularly right for the role or a recent highlight in your career, you can mention that, but be brief. For more on when and how to use acting cover letters, click here.

2) A quick Q&A about submitting to talent auditions

  • Should I submit to a role I’m “almost” right for? 
    The character description fits you like a glove, except… the role calls for an 18-year old and your age range is late 20s. Don’t submit! It will only aggravate the casting director and ruin your chances of being called in the future for a part that is perfect for you. The only time you can bend those rules a little is when the casting is SO specific you know few actors will fit the bill.
  • What does union and non-union mean? 
    Most casting notices will usually mention if a role is union or non-union. Members of SAG-AFTRA and Actors Equity can only audition for union roles. If you’re a beginning actor and not a member of any union yet, you can apply to both union and non-union roles (unless the casting notice specifies “union actors only”) but you’re more likely to get non-union auditions at first.
  • How can I increase my chances of getting an audition? 
    If you are submitting to a TV or movie audition, submit an acting reel along with your headshot and resume or send a link to your reel online. Many casting websites will also allow you to send MP3 files for voice-over auditions.
What if the phone doesn’t ring?If you’ve submitted to hundreds of auditions and are still not getting a call, consider getting a new headshot. Also, if you’re starting an acting career, you may just not have enough credits on your resume. Click here for ideas on how to gain acting experience as a beginning actor. While you wait for the phone to ring, attend as many open calls as you can.

Ring… Congratulations! You got a call. Time to schedule your acting audition.

3) Scheduling Auditions

Scheduled auditions give you a chance to ask questions ahead of time, either from your agent or directly from the casting director’s office.

Don’t pick up the phone unless you’re prepared to write down all the information you’re given and have your schedule handy. Better to let your answering service pick up then to rely on your memory for all the information you need.

Here’s a list of the questions you should have the answer to by the time you hang up the phone:

  • When and where you’ll be auditioning. Make sure you write down any special directions and parking instructions if you’re driving. If it’s a Hollywood studio, make sure you have a drive-on (ie. a pass to get inside the studio).
  • What is required for the audition If it’s an audition monologue, find out how long it should be. If you’ll be auditioning with a scene from the script, find out how you can get the sides. You will often be able to access the audition scenes online through a special website like Showfax. If not, make sure the casting director has your e-mail and/or fax number so they can send them to you.
  • Who you’ll be auditioning for. Will this be a pre-read with just the casting director or will the director and producer be present? Try to get the name of everyone who will be in the room.
  • Anything else you should know about. If you’re talking to your agent, get any information he has on the project, casting director, producers and director. Also discuss with your agent things like how to approach the role and wardrobe choices.

A word about pre-reads. Sometimes, you will get a call for a pre-read. That’s when a casting director who doesn’t know you wants to see you audition for them alone first to make sure you’re a good actor and right for the part. This happens mostly when casting film and TV. If they are happy with your “read”, they will ask you to come back to the acting auditions in front of the producers and director.

4) Preparing Your Audition

Now you’ve scheduled your audition, it’s time to get to work:

1) Get as much information about the role and project as you can. Casting websites keep track of your submissions for you, so you can review all the information in the original casting notice. But don’t stop there. If you’re auditioning for a published play, get a hold of the play and read it. For new plays, TV and film auditions, see if you can stop by the casting director’s office to read a draft. Read up on the subject the plot centers around.

2) Research the names of the director(s), producer(s), writer(s) and anyone else who will be at the audition. If you get the chance, watch their work. Get familiar with the casting director you’re auditioning for. If you ever took a workshop with them, review your notes. See if you can dig up an interview they gave to a trade publication. Knowing their pet peeves and how they like to run a casting will be tremendously helpful come your audition day.

3) Work on your audition material. Make sure your audition monologues are timed right and appropriate for the role you’re auditioning for. If you have audition sides, try to work on them with a partner and memorize all scenes. Consider working on your audition pieces with an acting coach. This can be expensive, but it’ worth it for important auditions, plus you’ll be able to apply what you learned the next time around.

4) Decide ahead of time what you”ll be wearing for the casting, and how you’ll do your hair and makeup. The idea is to suggest the part without wearing a costume.

Whether you go to acting school or not, making a stop at a good audition technique class is one of the best things you can do for your acting career. An actor who is skilled at auditioning will often get the part over a more talented actor who has skipped this essential step in their acting training.

Now you know how to get auditions, ready for the next step?

Click here for acting tips on how to nail the audition.

Return to the first page of our auditions series.