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You’ve prepared for your audition and are eager to perform as you enter the room, when out of the blue, casting asks you, “Tell me about yourself.” Don’t be caught off guard by this prompt; instead, be prepared to answer it. 

But first, why do casting professionals ask questions that showcase an actor’s personality? A lot can be learned about a performer by simply posing a personal question. Does the actor appear natural on camera? Is this an individual we’d like to work with? An actor’s distinctive energy shines through when speaking with spontaneity and while telling engaging, albeit short, personal stories. And being able to go with the flow demonstrates an ability to have presence of mind during unpredictable situations.

Here are eight tips to help make this kind of interaction go as smoothly as possible.

 

1. Keep in mind what they don’t want to hear.

Casting is not asking this question to hear the details of the recent roles you’ve landed or the acting class you currently attend. After all, they have your resume right in front of them. Rather, they’re interested in your essence, which is impossible to capture via a list of credits.

 

2. Buy yourself some time. 

If you don’t have an immediate response to the question, and you find yourself needing a few seconds to search your memory bank, it’s always good to smile, and you can say something like, “Oh, that’s funny you ask…” or “Oh, let’s see here…”

 

3. Come prepared with options.

Have a few personal stories that reveal something fresh or interesting about yourself that you can always fall back on—notable experiences, hobbies, or impressive feats that paint a unique portrait of you. Make sure you’re genuinely enthusiastic about the topic as this will bring life to your eyes and engage your audience. Also, selecting a personal story that expresses lightness or humor goes a long way. Remember, casting has likely seen a steady stream of talent answering the same question over and over again all day, so think positive, funny, cheerful, and playful. 

 

4. Be honest about your current abilities. 

Casting is not going to be checking into the accuracy of your words. If you mention you can fence like a pro or have performed daring rodeo feats, they will go along with your story. But if you tell tall tales about having specific abilities, don’t be surprised if you’re called in for roles requiring your participation in those activities.

 

5. Visually demonstrating aspects of your story is a plus. 

After seeing long lines of actors day in and day out, watching an actor physically enact parts of a story or other characters can be a real attention grabber.

 

6. Cut to the chase. 

Typically actors are given about 25 seconds to share their story, which can go by quite quickly. It’s easy to run out of time to tell your great ending. So be concise and consider starting out with the most compelling part of your story, and then work backward from there.

 

7. Trust yourself. 

If you forget whatever you’ve prepared, or if something new and interesting pops into your mind, then go with the flow. Remember, there’s no wrong or right answer.

 

8. Ask casting a question.

As you tell your story, it’s okay to ask casting a question relating to your answer, such as, “A butterfly just landed on my arm as I was walking to the audition. Has that ever happened to you?” Engaging in light conversation can help make a personal connection between you and the professionals in the room.