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Advice

No Excuses That You Know

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There are times when an excuse like "The dog ate my homework" might get you out of a sticky situation. However, in the audition room, 'fessing up to mistakes might be your best bet. Here are some such blunders and ideas on how to handle them.

You are late. This is a business, and you have a job to do. If you are late, act professionally, the way you would if you were a lawyer late to court. Casting director Lisa Hamil ("Oka! Amerikee"; "Everybody Wants to Be Italian") suggests saying a quick, "I'm sorry I ran a little late," and then immediately start working. "If you make too many excuses, it will seep into the room, and all we will remember about you is your apologies," says Hamil.

You forgot your headshot. Now that many offices are going green or using online barcode services such as Casting Frontier, casting directors are asking for your hard-copy headshot less frequently. But directors and producers usually like to have the hard copy, so you should still carry them, just in case. If you've left it at home, don't go get it if it will make you late. Hamil thinks it is much better to show up on time without a headshot than it is to be late. "You can always drop it off later in the day with a note or have your representatives send one over," she suggests.

The script was available, but you didn't read it. "Reading the script means you are serious and want the job," says Hamil. "Even if you don't have time to finish it, you should do your best to get through as much of it as you can." If you haven't read the script, don't say you have. What if you get the tone of the piece completely wrong? If you can ask for more time, do it. If not, be honest and ask intelligent questions that pertain to your character.

You didn't get to spend enough time on your sides. If possible, ask for more time. See if other actors will go before you in line. You need to make sure you're prepared before you go into that audition room. "The worst thing an actor can do is have their face buried in the sides," says Hamil. "It makes it hard for us to see your performance, and most important, it makes it almost impossible to believe it." Casting directors will tend to be more lenient on a pre-read or first audition than they will be on a callback. "I appreciate getting the feel of the performance more than the exact words on the page," says Hamil. "If it's for a callback, though, I expect you to be prepared."

You missed your audition. According to many CDs, this happens more often than you might think. If it is something you could not help or anticipate, usually the casting director will do his or her best to reschedule you. But don't forget to call. "Unless it's a life-or-death reason, someone should have called the office and let us know," says Hamil.

You missed your callback or producer session. "Callbacks and producers sessions are scheduled very precisely, sometimes to even match people up together," explains Hamil. "Always, always, always have your representative call. The job of a casting director, after finding the best person for the role, is to make the director's life easier. Unreliable talent adds an unnecessary problem to his or her plate."

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