Why Your Audition Needs to Pop (Now More Than Ever)

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To say that we’re in the richest time in television history is an understatement. Not only is the quality of the writing phenomenal, but the quantity has skyrocketed as well!

As studios, cable channels, and streaming services continue to churn out product at this furious pace, it’s becoming harder and harder for them to break these shows out and get an already over-saturated audience to give their show a try. There’s also the hard-to-ignore fact that audiences’ attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. With the ability to stay focused on one thing at the eight-second mark, the executives in charge are demanding ingenuity more than ever from all the creative and technical departments. Sets, lighting, costumes, hair and makeup have to be eye-catching in ways they never had to be before.

And so do the actors.

As far as auditioning goes, the days of a nice smooth reading being enough to get the job are gone. You need to show that you have what it takes to grab the audience’s attention and keep them riveted for the entire length of the time that you’re on camera. Finding and executing your moments is key to auditioning this way; it’s what I call having the ability to “hook and hold.”

It begins with having a way of working that enables you to break down the text and discover the moments the writer is offering you. Remember, it’s not the showiest actor who books the role, but the actor who moves the writers’ story forward in the most compelling way.

READ: How to Audition for Netflix

After the mind has dissected the text, it’s time for the body to take over. The decisions that will get the job and create your most dynamic moments are found in the body and heart. The words need to transform, through you, into a three-dimensional human being. The emotions that will enable this transformation live in the body.

When you mine your body and heart to find your connection to the piece, your decisions will be grounded in the truth of your life and the piece will be enlivened by your vision. You’ll then find that the moments will grow organically out of the work and become a powerful representation of you and all that you have to offer the role.

Now that you see where the strongest moments of the piece live for you, your body will tell you what those moments need in order to have the highest impact. Do they need space, time, a breath, pace? If you have found your decisions by exploring the emotional mapping of the body, this same mapping will let you know how to handle the moment. Remember: delivering your moments isn’t choreography, so stay with the body and let it guide you to the most honest manifestation.

When you work this way, you’ll be more than just the next actor reading the scene. You’ll be the actor who hooks their attention and holds it for the entire length of the scene. And if you’re being put on tape, even better. You need moments that pop to get the people watching to pay attention to a taped audition. If you have those moments, you’ll not only hold their attention, but you’ll show them that you have the knowledge of what acting for the camera is all about and the skill to deliver. Being camera-ready is an essential component of a job-getting audition.

The bar has been raised and more is being demanded from the auditioning actor than ever before. But from what I’m hearing from casting, most actors are seemingly unaware of this and remain behind the curve. It’s not just about having a “good” audition (whatever that means), it’s about connecting to the text, your decisions, and your moments in a way that shows the people watching the effect you’d have on the audience if they hired you. They need to see that you have the talent, charisma, and skill to hook the audience and take them on a ride they won’t want to leave.

It’s all in the moments.

Got your hook-and-hold down? Check out our ABC casting calls!

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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Craig Wallace
Craig Wallace is the creator and award-winning teacher of the Wallace Audition Technique, an audition preparation system that he developed based on his years of experience as a studio executive, talent agent, and casting consultant.
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