In episode 25 of Casting Frontier’s Bring It! series, casting veteran James Levine and session director/actor Charles Carpenter show us three common ways actors sabotage their chances of getting a callback. After pinpointing the ill-fated moment when the audition takes a turn for the worse, James and Charles then discuss proper audition protocol and ways to maintain a professional attitude while trying out for a part.

1. Don’t ask for another acting partner

Here’s the scenario: While auditioning with a scene partner, you find yourself worrying that his or her poor performance is making you look bad. It doesn’t seem fair that your own chances of being called back would suffer just because another actor was ill-prepared. So you ask the casting director, “Could I do it again with another actor?” Charles insists, “Don’t ask us if you can read with somebody else because you feel like your partner wasn’t up to your high standards.” This is unacceptable in the audition room, and ultimately, it makes the other actor outshine you. James encourages actors to focus on their own efforts and not allow any circumstance or any person to interfere with their performance. That way, he says, “We see that you’re such a strong actor that it doesn’t matter if you’re acting with no one, anything, empty space, or a genius. It’s always the same for you; you can give the same kind of performance.”

2. Refrain from commenting on your own performance

As a session director, Charles has seen countless actors, and there’s nothing that gets under his skin more than hearing actors judge their own performances. “Don’t tell us you were bad; don’t tell us you can do it again; don’t ask us if it’s okay if I try something else,” he begs. It basically is telling casting there was nothing worthwhile about your performance and you have issues with self-confidence. And when James hears these sentiments, he says: “You talk me out of you when you do that.” If you’re convinced you made a mistake while auditioning, just remember actors are a hot commodity exactly because they are human—and humans make mistakes. But we’re also much more than our mistakes. So let casting evaluate each of your performances. “That’s our job,” Levine insists. Remember, casting is on your side and they’ve got your back in the audition room. “Trust in your process, trust in your preparation, and trust that we’re not going to let you leave until we get a workable, usable take,” Charles says. 

3. Stick to the script

Here’s another scenario: An actor enters the room and says, “I’m going to change some of these lines because nobody would say this.” This person is essentially saying, “These lines aren’t good enough to deserve my respect.” Because some performers appear to be confused about job descriptions, Charles wants ad-libbing actors to know, “You are not being hired as the writer. [As an actor] you are going to bring the words to life. So, say the words.” Writers work hard to create scripts; just as you want to be valued for your work as an actor, it’s important to respect the person who wrote the lines—even if you don’t like what they’ve written. So enter the audition room with the goal of doing a great job with the script that’s been provided. Don’t fret if you miss a word or if you accidentally say the lines inaccurately. Just do your best and keep to the script. That’s what you were invited to do. 

Determined to help actors cut through the mystery associated with the casting process, James Levine authored an enlightening book titled 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. 

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