In an audition, what you do with the words on the page gets the attention of the people in the room, but it’s what happens in between the words that will get you the job. In order to be just as effective when you’re silent as when you’re speaking, it’s essential to address the issue of connection. When we talk about connecting in an audition, many actors think solely of eye contact with the reader or casting director. In fact, there are over 10 ways that we connect to another person when we speak to them: facial expressions, body energy, proximity, touch, breath, emotions, and more. Proximity and touch aren’t relevant to an audition, but the rest of these personal connectors, as they’re called in neuroscience, are in play. When you’re acting you have access to all of them.
Let’s take a look at how two of these connectors can make a huge difference in your auditions.
A well-known casting director who I recently did a panel with said that when an actor looks up at the beginning of the audition and “they know who she is,” she’s hooked. She sees that the actor has done their work and has a solid, deeply felt relationship with the other character that shines through their eyes when they make eye contact with her.
Many actors mistake eye contact with staring. They don’t really know how they feel about who they’re speaking to, so their eyes are flat and expressionless. The casting person sees that they don’t really understand that film and TV is primarily about reaction and telling stories through the actor’s face and eyes. They don’t want to see an actor looking at a reader. They want to see a fully realized person making specific and interesting eye contact with another person and they need to see and feel the strength of that actor’s connection through this eye contact in order to have the confidence to give them the job.
The rooms that you audition in are usually very small. When each new person enters, the energy shifts and the people in the room can’t help but feel it. Before you even open your mouth, opinions are being formed based on how the energy shifted.
You can’t fake your energy—it will always tell the truth about how you’re feeling in that moment, and whether you’re going to make a positive, neutral or negative impression in the room. Are you excited to be there? Do you feel that the work you’re about to do will lift their project up and make it better? Do you really and truly feel like you and your work belong there? If you do, the energy will rise accordingly. There will be something electric about you and you’ll connect to the people watching you in a way that lifts them up as well.
If, however, you’re not that confident in your work and in yourself, if you were tentative about your decisions, or are just trying to get through the audition without embarrassing yourself, then the energy will either stay the same or get lower and heavier, and the people in the room will connect to you accordingly. This also applies to taped auditions. Energy comes through the screen, no matter the size, and can make you a vibrant presence who seems to be connecting directly and personally to the viewer.
The connector of body energy carries into your work as well. If your audition decisions are truly felt in your body and honestly connected to your heart, and if you let your body relax in the room so that all of these decisions can flow freely out and connect to the room, that’s as good as it gets. If, however, you prepared exclusively from your head and are trying to push a series of thoughts out into the room, your body will no doubt tighten up, your breath will be held, and no true connection will be made.
I could write volumes more about these connectors and they are just two of over ten! But if you focus on and do the work to deepen just these two, you’ll be well ahead of most others.
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.