In Casting Frontier’s tenth episode of the Bring It! series, Action Casting’s James Levine and actor and session director Charles Carpenter discuss how to best answer the personality questions that sometimes occur just after you slate or at the end of an audition.

Why do casting professionals ask questions that showcase your personality? Levine frankly responds, “To see if you have one.” An actor’s distinctive disposition shines through when speaking with spontaneity and while telling engaging, albeit short, personal stories. By simply posing a question, casting can observe an actor’s expressiveness which is especially useful when a project has no synchronous auto track, also known as MOS. And being able to go with the flow demonstrates an actor’s ability to be present during unpredictable situations.

Levine and Carpenter share six tips to help make this kind of interaction go as smoothly as possible.

  1. Buy yourself some time. If you don’t have an immediate response to the question, and you find yourself needing a few extra seconds to search your memory banks, Levine suggests actors smile and say something like, “Oh, that’s funny you ask. I was just thinking about that …”
  2. Come prepared with answers to a wide variety of questions. Minimize your chances of being caught off guard; after all, these interview questions are bound to be asked sooner or later. So always have a few personal stories that reveal something unique or interesting about yourself. What kind of questions should actors be ready to answer? Levine and Carpenter share some examples: “Tell us about something crazy you’ve done?” “Tell us about your first kiss,” and even, “If you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be?” Always be ready to tell casting something humorous, about a favorite moment, or plans you may have. And don’t be surprised if they sling a completely out-of-the-blue question at you as well.
  3. Be honest about your current abilities. If you say you’re adept at horseback riding or skydiving, casting will go along with your story. “We won’t check that story. We just want to see how that story makes us feel and [learn] something about you,” Levine says. But if you tell tall tales about having specific abilities, you run the risk of being cast in roles requiring your participation in those activities.
  4. 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.  
  5. Cut to the chase. Levine suggests actors, “Start with the good part and then work backward.” Due to time restrictions, actors typically have about 25 seconds to complete the mini-story, so you don’t want to be cut off right before you get to the best part.
  6. Trust yourself. Sometimes casting will ask a question that triggers a sense of insecurity or dread in you because you know very little about the topic. For instance, what if you’re asked to perform a magic trick? However, chances are you do have a valid opinion or a rudimentary idea about the topic, and that’s enough for casting’s purposes. So don’t stress about it; go with the flow.

Carpenter sums up all the tips by saying, “Keep it concise. Get in, tell the story, and get out.”

Determined to help actors cut through the mystery associated with the casting process, James Levine authored an enlightening book entitled Bring It! along with Charles Carpenter and Jim Martyka, which will be released digitally in the near future. In the book, Levine shares helpful audition information from the vantage point of a casting director as it relates to commercial, film and television acting. The book’s chapters correspond to the Bring It! series.

Casting Frontier’s YouTube channel publishes weekly video tips, tricks, best practices, interviews with industry professionals and more.