The 1 Audition Trick That Will Book the Job

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In today’s ultra-competitive casting environment, the actors who are scoring the jobs are the ones that know how to truly embody the role. They have the ability to make the words come alive in a connected, honest, and dynamic way.

To do this requires a way of preparing that allows you to go deeper than the competition—a way of working that doesn’t look at auditioning as a problem to be solved, but rather a dynamic, creative art form all its own.

Here are two ways that can help free you to creatively and skillfully embody the role and book the job:

Get rid of “right” and “wrong.”
Of course the casting director, producers, director et al. have some idea of what they’re looking for in the role you’re auditioning for. However, they are having a session, which means that they need answers—answers you have to provide for the character they’re casting: Who is the person behind the words? How do they breathe and feel? How do they look? Why do we care about them?

The only right answers to those questions are your answers.

If we must use the words right and wrong: the “right” decisions about the piece are the ones that connect you to the words on the page in the most honest and compelling way possible, the decisions that allow your voice, your energy, and your heartbeat to come through loudly and clearly.

So if there’s anger in the scene, you need to make sure that it’s not generic anger, but anger the way YOU would express it. If there’s humor, don’t just try to “be funny” in a way you think will please the people in the room; be funny as YOU are funny.

You are you and everyone else is not—no one will be pleased by you hiding parts of yourself in an effort to do what you think is the “right” thing.

Ultimately, they will decide whether or not you’re right for that particular role. But you can be assured that even if you don’t get that one, if you were true to yourself in the audition, they will have truly met you, gotten to know you, considered you, and they will most certainly see you again.

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

The reason many actors fall short of embodying a character they’re auditioning for is because they prepare primarily from the mind. But what they should be focused on—where the answers to the questions you need to answer about that character reside—is the body and heart.

A creative way of working is needed so that you can deeply explore how you feel instead of what you think.

In life, when you experience anything, that experience is taken in first by the body. The sensation the body feels causes the limbic center of the brain to produce a corresponding emotion and this emotion triggers a thought. This order of experience—body, heart, then mind—is also the way a good audition is prepared. It’s essential that the mind is quiet enough that you can actually feel how the words on the page cause your body to react.

When you’re reading the angry part of the scene, how does that anger manifest in your body? Does your stomach tighten, your breath shorten etc.? These physical reactions will determine the specificity of the emotion that’s produced: your anger, not just some vague idea of anger. And in the funny part of the scene, what does funny feel like to your body? Where are you affected? What emotion is triggered by those sensations? And now, what are your thoughts about those emotions? Does your anger cause you to feel thoughts of justification or revenge? Does your humor engender thoughts of joyful glee or caustic sarcasm?

Exploring in this way guarantees that the people in the room see an embodied person because you’ll be experiencing all of your emotions in a thoroughly human way: physically, emotionally and mentally. And every line you speaks will be rich and fully dimensionalized.

Instead of tearing your hair out trying to decide what’s right and wrong, you need to be fully engaged in a creative process that frees you to explore the full range of what you have to offer the words on the page. If you work this way, you won’t be just another actor acting the part; you’ll be the true embodiment of the role and that will go a long way toward making you the actor they have to hire.

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.

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.