Too much of a good thing can backfire quickly. Take ice cream–most would say it’s delicious; but eating a gallon of it can make you feel sick. The same rule applies when it comes to audition practices. Are you trying too hard in your commercial auditions? With all the competition, it’s certainly understandable that actors try their best in every way possible. But it is possible to overdo it. Here are a few ways that actors run themselves into the ground in the pursuit commercial casting jobs.

Going overboard with your appearance

Most auditions are shot under intense lighting which can make heavy makeup appear excessive. And casting directors want to see what you really look like, and not be distracted by too much makeup. So unless the role calls for thick make up, keep it on the lighter side. In addition, make sure your wardrobe is appropriate for the role. For example, overly provocative clothing when auditioning for the part of a mom dusting her home just doesn’t make sense. That being said, your wardrobe doesn’t need to be exact; for example, if you’re playing a firefighter, wear something that suggests firefighter. That is, you don’t need to show up attired in a full uniform of fire hat, boots, and yellow coat. Many casting directors have said overdressing for a part can be distracting. So instead, wear something along the lines of a button-down navy blue short-sleeved shirt. Doing so keeps those viewing your audition focussed on you and your acting.

Overreacting to the product

When asked to eat a food product or a drink, avoid expressing over-the-top enjoyment while you consume it. Doing so sounds off the phony alarm and alienates the ones you’re trying most to win over–that is, the casting professionals and commercial execs. Also, taking too large of bites can make an actor’s face appear unpleasant as he or she chews. Therefore, make sure to take small bites and express an upbeat, low-key yet satisfied reaction. The goal is to appear that you are enjoying the food in a real, relatable manner. And, as you want the food item and your facial expression be clearly picked up by the camera, keep your eyes up at camera line rather than directed downward toward the food. Actors are often asked to turn a three-quarter face to the camera so that both the their face and the food are easy to see. It’s a good idea to practice at home in the mirror.

Being too committed to one approach of the material 

When preparing for a role, sometimes actors land on what they believe is the best read for their lines–and they fully commit to this approach, and only it. But the entertainment industry is not known for being predictable, and sometimes you’re going to need to adapt to conditions in the auditioning room. You might find no chair in the auditioning room when you’re expecting one; perhaps you’ll be asked to give three different readings for the same line; the dialogue you worked hard to memorize may be changed for the callback; or you could be partnered with an actor who is struggling with the material and it risks reflecting poorly on your performance. Indeed, the audition room can be seen as an experimental zone for the producers to see what’s working and what’s not. So when preparing, it helps to have a few different interpretations of the material to keep you flexible. This is also where strong improvisational skills can make you shine as they help you think on your feet. Always be ready to slightly alter the way you’re engaging in a conversation, or perhaps shift your posture, or emphasize a different word.  

Acting too much

This might sound like it’s at odds with being an actor, but commercial acting focuses more on bringing your authentic self to the table as opposed to performing deep and meaningful theater or film roles. After all, commercials are very brief, and don’t allow for an in-depth study of a character or storyline. Indeed, they are about sales–not art. So, bring your genuine self, but prepare with the basics: understanding who you’re engaging with, knowing your lines and why your character is saying them, knowing what motivates you, and knowing where to place your body. Your personal qualities got you invited to the audition, so you can be confident that you’re in the running. Put your unique stamp on the performance, and always know that you truly are enough.

Taking the audition process too seriously

Quite a few actors express that they dread the auditioning process. They worry about being judged and rejected; they are afraid to make a mistake; they allow feelings of frustration and insecurity nip at them; they can be consumed with making all the right creative choices. If you’re taking things so seriously that you feel a mistake can break you to some degree, then you’re taking the auditioning process too seriously. On the other hand, if you learn to trust the process, and be at peace with the inevitable–that is, that you will make mistakes along the way–then these mishaps will transform into golden opportunities for you to learn and grow as both an actor and a person. Take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. Indeed, everyone has to learn from mistakes. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you’ll start to genuinely enjoy your auditions. Really, it’s up to you. So allow your personal light to shine during auditions–warts and all. People notice when you’re having fun, and it leaves them wanting more of you.

Always remember to bring the joy that inspired you to pursue acting in the first place. It’s contagious, and can overpower any “overdone” step taken in the auditioning room.