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In the past two “what directors are looking for” articles we covered how essential the first 10 seconds of the audition are, as well as the importance of listening and reacting.

One of the other topics that the directors I work with love to talk about is how they’ll only hire actors who they see as “the whole package” in the audition room. We discussed what that meant in terms of the actor’s work as well as their presence in the room. Let’s take a look:

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THE WORK

One of the most important skills that tell directors that they’re looking at the real thing is the actor’s ability to create compelling moments in the scene. Directors are waiting to be “hooked” in a new and exciting way.

Most of the time, in real life, we don’t speak in long complete groupings of sentences. We go from smooth, to static. We make sounds and we catch our breath if we get surprised and slowly let it out when we recover. We’re really interesting!

And yet, so many times in auditions, directors complain that actors have taken the life out of the piece. I realize this is most likely in an effort to look prepared and professional, but it’s not real or honest. If you’re connected to yourself, we’ll know that the rough edges are a choice and not a mistake.

The next time you’re speaking with someone, notice the moments of the conversation that make them unique; the pauses, the breaths, the chuckles etc. And then be aware of the moments you take and how you take them.

For your next audition, take those moments! Directors won’t hire someone who looks like they’re reading off a teleprompter. They will hire the actor who has the ability to create a real three-dimensional human being and who expresses themselves in a singular rhythm – quirks and all.

Another element of being the whole package is taking a strong point of view on the material – not hedging bets. Actors too often prepare in a way that they feel will please the people in the room – second guessing instead of committing. Of course, look at the breakdown and don’t go nuts! But at the same time, don’t audition down to what you believe the expectations of the people in the room are. Lift the material up with the decisions that you make and exceed everyone’s expectations. This may feel risky at first, but if you have a way of preparing that has brought out the strongest and most compelling qualities that you have to offer, you’ll feel safe enough to take that risk. It’s your only choice to show the people in the room, especially the director, that you have the ability to make your scene(s) come alive in way that takes the whole project to a higher level.

THE ROOM

Simply put, everything that you do in the room has to give the people watching you the confidence to hire you. They’re not just hiring your work, they’re hiring the person, and they need to know that the person that will be showing up on the set is strong, confident and in charge of themselves.

Actors who know how to book the job don’t need the perfect environment in order to be great. They walk in, look around, see the frazzled casting director, the high-strung producer and the network person on his phone, take a breath, smile and say “this is my stage today.” By not fighting the circumstances of the room, they’re taking the position of power. This acceptance makes you the calm, compelling center of all of the room’s activity. And this acceptance extends to all that you are as a person. No self-judgement, shame or hiding. Directors love actors who are in full acceptance and ownership of their entire being.

Now that you’ve accepted the room, the people in it and yourself – take charge! And you are in charge of the room in that you are the only active element in it. Everyone else is in the passive position of watching. You alone can affect the environment in a positive way. If your preparation is everything it needs to be, you can be confident in knowing that your seamless, dynamic work will be more than enough to change the room for the better.

The bar is high in auditions, isn’t it? You need to explode into the piece in the first 10 seconds, have the type of listening and reacting that captivates and surprises, create moments that stand up in the room as the strong, whole person who can handle anything that the job has to offer.

With such high stakes, it’s important that you have a way of working that brings pure joy and energy to your auditions. If you have a process you love, the love will also be in the work and that will make you pretty darn irresistible!


CraigWallaceCraig Wallace’s background in script development combined with his 16 years of coaching actors enables him to find the job getting moments that others miss. His expertise in breaking down text and years of coaching experience has made him “L.A.’s go to private coach.” Sign up for his group or private classes at wallaceauditiontechnique.com

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