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Backstage Experts

What Exactly Do Casting Directors Want to See in Auditions?

What Exactly Do Casting Directors Want to See in Auditions?
Photo Source: Jordan Sondler

Q: What are some specific things that casting directors expect/want actors to know or do in an audition? —@ChampagneGoggles, Backstage Community Forum

While the expectation may be as subjective in number as there are casting directors, here are some reminders to make your audition experience a great one.

1. Find the human being. Most everyone auditioning in the room or via self-tape will satisfy the lines, breakdown, and physical needs for the role. We’re rooting for you to share who this human being is and transport us away from planned or disconnected line delivery to a living, breathing soul—your unique take on the role will only come from your personal experiences and choices.

The writer has likely created roles based on actual human beings, so remember the character you’re reading had a life before this moment in the story, strongly wants something throughout the scene, and will continue to thrive and struggle in and around the moments. Do your homework. Make the words and the life provided by the writer your own. Be curious in your life and create from that experience. This, coupled with technique and training, will allow you to share authentic reads because it comes from you and no one else.

2. There are no mistakes. We do not care if lines or words are unintentionally dropped. We care how you recover from the bobbles. How professional is your recovery? Stay in character, take a breath, find your spot again, and continue.

3. You are in the room to solve a challenge. You received that appointment over many, many others, and you deserve to be there. Prepare. Share. Take full responsibility for your great work—and bobbles—with grace and humor.

4. Show up fully. Confirm appointments in a timely fashion and research the role, project, and team (CD, producers, director, writers, etc.). Enter the room with confidence and resist throwing anyone under the bus or making excuses—we’ve heard them all. Share the work you love.

5. Meet your work with pure joy. It is play, after all. You will be met in kind.

Caroline Liem is an L.A.-based casting director, teacher, and Backstage Expert. For more information, check out Liem’s full bio

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,

and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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