what-not-to-say-do-in-auditions.jpgWouldn’t it be nice to never have to put your foot in your mouth? Unfortunately, it’s only human to say inappropriate or unprofessional things from time to time. But you’d be surprised to discover how common it is for this to occur in the audition room. Here is a sample of actor quotes that are all too familiar to casting directors, but should be avoided.

“I’m so nervous.”  While acknowledging your nerves may be helpful in some life situations, the audition room is not one of them. After all, the goal is to present yourself as a professional so you can land a job on set. Casting directors want to see you taking charge of the material and giving it your own stamp of authenticity. If nerves are getting the better of you, enrolling yourself in classes where you’re required to play various roles on a regular basis will likely help. This will take the novelty out of the audition process. You’ll be more at ease because it’s what you do on a regular basis. You’ll be acclimated to putting yourself on the line in front of others, as well as receiving feedback. Keep in mind, many actors experience audition-room jitters, so you’re not alone, and it’s okay. Just work through it. You can also self-soothe with deep breathing, positive affirmations, calm or empowering music, and power poses.

“I’m sorry I’m  late, but…”  Please don’t try to explain why you’re late; casting professionals have heard every excuse in the book, and frankly, they don’t have time to hear a series of unfortunate events which resulted in you wasting their time. Always assume there’s going to be traffic, and it’s going to be tough finding parking. On those–hopefully rare- instances when you’re running late, acknowledge it and ask if it’s alright to proceed with your audition. Be ready to hear a yes or no. Accept a no peacefully, but if given the green light, be ready to zero in on the task at hand like a pro. Most importantly, make sure not to be late next time or you’ll be at risk of presenting yourself as someone who has trouble being punctual–not a good quality on set.

“I just got this.”  It sounds like you’re blaming the casting director for not providing you with essential materials on time; not the best first impression to give. After all, if you got the sides late in the game, then the other actors likely did as well. And that means you all have the same set of challenges before you, essentially evening the playing field. Why do actors sometimes receive their sides so late in the game? Often it has nothing to do with the casting director. It’s not uncommon for ad executives  to change the characters or dialogue last minute, and then the changes go to the writers, etc.. It’s part of an actor’s job description to be able to bring it on even on short notice especially because revisions can happen at any moment. This is where improvisational skills can be so important.

“Was that okay?”  Asking for praise or acknowledgement only advertises your insecurities in a place where self-confidence is absolutely required. Casting professionals don’t have time to bolster your self-esteem–nor is it their job. If they have feedback for you, they will share it voluntarily. And the decision-making process of whom is chosen can be a complicated involving producers, directors, ad agents, casting directors, commercial executives, and more. You might be chosen or rejected for any number of reasons including your chemistry with the other actor, your type, a change in direction, or many other factors besides your audition performance. If you did the best you can, you can leave the audition room with your head held high.

“I’m done.” or “Scene!” Announcing you’ve come to the conclusion of your performance in the audition room jars the viewer from being engaged in your performance. It screams amateur. Instead, you can pause a moment or two, relax, nod, and wait for the casting director to make a comment. He or she knows when you’ve reached the end of the material, and might opt to give you direction, or thank you for your efforts.

Don’t touch the casting director. Some actors feel compelled to shake the casting professional’s hand, initiate a hug–or even a kiss. As a rule of thumb, don’t approach or touch the casting director unless he or she specifically reaches out a hand initiating a handshake, hug, or whatever. This is not to suggest that casting directors are cold and untouchable, or that they are not fond of you or moved by your performance. Indeed they are sincerely rooting for you. But consider the vast quantities of actors a busy casting director encounters on a daily basis–day after day, week after week, year after year. Many find it unpractical to shake everyone’s hand, and those that prefer to make contact will initiate it. Similarly, when performing, avoid direct eye contact with the casting professionals. It’s their job to observe actors as an audience would; not partake in the scene with the actor.

If you’ve said any of these in the past, don’t worry–you’re not alone. Forgive yourself and move forward. And as Maya Angelou told Oprah, “When you know better, you do better.”

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