Actors Anonymous Step 6: Embrace the Audition

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Photo Source: Clay Rodery

If true actors live for the process, then why have we collectively agreed that the largest part of it, the audition, is the most dreaded? Truly loving the process means we must love the audition (insert eye roll here). Welcome to step six of the program.

With some of the toughest odds of success in any profession, the hard truth is that most of us hold the job title of professional auditioner. In order to be good at the thing we spend the most time doing, we must find the joy in it. This can only happen if you’re treating the audition like any other day at the acting office, which is, unfortunately, where most of us go majorly wrong.

After finding an ad here in Backstage or getting the agent’s call, we start our slow descent down the rabbit hole, becoming bizarre versions of our former selves. Bending over backward to try to “give them what they want,” we come out exhausted and humiliated, having pulled every muscle in our bodies. From outfits we wouldn’t be caught dead in to robotic, micromanaged “performances,” we leave all our training at the door and join the circus. It’s the obsession with all the variables outside our control that leads to most of the pain. Contorting the soul is never pleasant.

The book “Loving to Audition: The Audition Workbook for Actors” (a personal favorite I highly recommend) describes the seven roadblocks preventing us from enjoying this vital piece of the actor’s puzzle: comparisons, preparation, talent, time, small talk, trying to guess what they want, and the “they’re something, I’m nothing” mentality. All but one of these things is just noise making us crazy and distracting us from the only thing we can control: our preparation.

Like our characters, all we can control is what we do. It’s a basic tenet, but somehow the audition scenario gets us so focused on being perfect that this goes right out the window. We must continue to work in the room. The audition is more than an opportunity to book a job. It is a chance to flex our acting and sometimes vocal muscles (with a free accompanist); and, because it’s where we spend the majority of our time, all that flexing inevitably makes us stronger. Think of it as a free gym membership.

A large part of our acting addiction is the desire to be truly seen. We strive to feel alive, to be present in the moment, and to expose ourselves emotionally to a willing audience. The audition is handing you the perfect opportunity. Seize the moment, remember who you are, and let go of the outcome. If you let your inner junkie live for the high of the moment, everything else will fall into place.

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