Casting Frontier’s YouTube channel now features weekly content designed to empower talent by providing valuable insider knowledge. And this week we’re excited to share the fourth of nine episodes of our Bring It! video series: Don’t Lead with Need. Casting veteran James Levine and session director and actor Charles Carpenter discuss ways to deal with dreaded audition-room jitters. Instead of being bogged down by fear, actors can channel their energy, use it to focus on the scene at hand, and invigorate their performance. In fact, nerves can be a good thing if you know how to use them to your advantage. So, how can actors best handle stress while auditioning?

“Discomfort is key in the creative process.”

It can feel like you’re trying to tame a lion when nerves strike. They can interrupt your ability to concentrate and have the potential to sabotage an audition. But Levine insists the discomfort is not only natural, it’s key to the creative process. The nerves are telling you that what you’re about to do is important, so stay alert. You may feel pressure because you only have a brief moment in the audition room for a chance at a role, perhaps you were given too little time to prepare, and actors always have to be ready to deal with rejection as it’s inherent to the job. Still, actors must endure the discomfort and manage to give their best efforts.

“Don’t lead with need.”

It’s understandable that actors may feel a need to be validated especially when they’ve just poured their hearts out before a group of keen-eyed casting executives. And sometimes actors enter the audition room consumed with financial worries and thus feel a real need to land the gig. Either way, Levine says, “Don’t lead with need,” when you enter the room. Instead, he says, “Bring something to the party.” Make it your priority to come prepared, be ready to make choices, and bring abundance. Doing so will help diminish your fears.

Channeling your energy

Instead of telling yourself how nervous you are or how much you dislike auditioning, tell yourself how much you thrive in a high-pressure environment. After all, our bodies experience anxiety and excitement in much the same way. Carpenter says, “Nervous energy and excited energy are the exact same thing. They manifest in the exact same way. What happens when you’re nervous? Your heart rate goes up, your blood pressure rises, you start to get hot … it’s how you spin it.”

Ways to keep nerves in check, at least a little

Each actor is different when it comes to utilizing techniques to diminish nerves. Some use yoga or meditation, others blast motivational music on their headsets; some jog around the block, and some take a nap. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it helps to get you “in the zone.” Carpenter shares what works for him: a spiritual shout. “It’s really simple … when you’re in the car, before you get out … give yourself a big roar—yell to the top of your lungs. Get all of that energy out!” And then there’s always the most practical way to keep nerves in check: prepare for the role, be ready with your wardrobe, and arrive on time.


“Confidence is more important than talent.”

Although Levine’s job is to search for talent, a person’s abilities won’t shine through unless they’re accompanied by confidence. “You can have all the talent in the world and no confidence and you’ll never get to me,” he says. Actors can build confidence organically by training, taking risks, making mistakes and seeing subsequent auditions as opportunities to improve.

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 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! YouTube series.

Casting Frontier’s YouTube channel publishes weekly video tips, tricks, best practices, interviews with industry professionals and more. Stay tuned next week to watch the fifth episode of the Bring It! series with James and Charles. Or better yet, subscribe to the channel so you know as soon as the next episode is out!