what-casting-directors-want.jpg“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” –Oscar Wilde

Have you ever looked around the lobby before your audition and noticed you didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the talent for one reason or another? Maybe you were the only one with red hair, or you seemed to tower over everyone else. Maybe everyone else was highly made up whereas you opted to come in with a more natural, understated look. Or maybe you were of a different ethnicity or age range from the rest. Often actors will try to assess what casting directors are really seeking by analyzing the talent in the waiting room. And you might make some assumptions; after all, it’s only human to try to make sense of things. There will likely be times when you wonder if you are right for the part based on your fellow waiting-room thespians. But this kind of thinking is a mistake because you do have a shot at the job regardless of how you believe you rank among the other actors.

The casting directors, directors, producers, and ad executives may each have an idea of what he or she is individually looking for, but there is often a lot of wiggle room in each of their minds. That’s where you come in. If you notice you are different–whether it be height, age, ethnicity, level of beauty, or whether your energy is more passive or bold, or you come in wearing a cardigan when everyone else is attired in leather jackets–keep in mind this difference may be exactly what fits the job in question. After all, it’s your personal touch, your personality, your unique energy that you are showcasing in the audition room. Similarly, if you overhear other actors reciting their sides, and notice your read is completely different from theirs, don’t spend a minute second guessing your approach to the material. They are doing what’s right for them, and you need to do what suits you. While it’s true that the commercial professionals might not know exactly what they’re looking for, they are determined to recognize a good match for the role–and they’ll know it when they see it. But they want some variety from which to choose. So make sure to embrace yourself, honor your decisions, take risks as you see fit, and worry less about what you believe those execs want from you.

Sometimes actors compare the material to something they’ve seen in the past on another commercial or movie, and think they should perform along those same lines–as it seems like a safe decision. But if you were the one who was making the decision of whom to cast, would you want to see a long line of the same look, same energy, same read? Of course not. So if you approach the material with a scoop of comedy, or a dash of the dramatic, maybe giving a more subtle or enthusiastic delivery from the common trend, then you’re doing your job. There is only one you, and that’s precisely what you have to offer. That’s why you–among an enormous list of other actors–were invited into that particular audition room. Someone saw your headshots and reel, and believed you had a legitimate shot at the part. Or maybe they remembered your unique qualities from a previous audition, and made a note to call you in again for specific kinds of roles. Maybe you will be picked for the slot this time around, and maybe not. But no matter what, you do belong in that audition room. So make sure to work with your personal energy and not against it. Have the courage to follow your heart; after all, that’s what touches and inspires others.