Business of acting

A large part of your job as an actor is auditioning for the role. And part of auditioning is being good to yourself. Don't sabotage yourself. Watch your choice of thought, how you talk to yourself, and where you focus your energy. Here are 10 steps to having a great audition.

Nothing will make you feel more frazzled in an audition than running late. Sometimes you may have several appointments in one day, and traffic and public transportation are often unpredictable. Give yourself enough leeway by figuring driving and parking time into your schedule. Sometimes you might have to park in a structure and walk a fair distance on a studio lot. Don't let getting to the audition throw you off balance.

The worst thing you can do is sign in and be called on when you are not prepared. Actors often complain that they weren't ready when they were called upon or that the casting director rushed them in. You can control this by arriving early, looking over the script, and going to the bathroom before you even sign in. No one can tell you that you can't go to the bathroom, and you can check your appearance and even look over the script a few times. When you return and sign in, if you are next on the list, you will have had extra moments to prepare. If it looks like there is a long wait when you arrive, sign in and spend your time rehearsing, not visiting with other actors.

It's easy to look around the waiting room, see 20 people in your category, and start thinking all kinds of self-sabotaging thoughts. You've probably heard this negative talk or said it to yourself at one time or another: Why am I even here? I'm too young, I'm too old, I'm not right. Why did they call me in for this? This is a waste of my time. And on and on. You are there; try surrendering to the idea that you're there for a reason. The casting director had many choices of whom to bring in, and you are one of them. That is already a victory. If you are the only brunette in a room of blondes, why not think of yourself as the unique choice? It is not your job to decide in advance whom they'll want to hire; they often don't know what they want until they see it. Comparing yourself to everyone else is a violation of your self-worth. The one thing you are in control of in the waiting room is your choice of thought: Choose positive ones.

There are a few actors at every audition who, consciously or not, spread negative energy in the waiting room. Over the years, I've identified three types of energy suckers and have done my best to avoid them. The "boaster" will complain, very loudly, about how he or she has been all over town and is exhausted from so many appointments. Of course this is said nonchalantly, to intimidate anyone within earshot. Keep in mind: If this actor were working, he or she wouldn't be at this audition. The "complainer" will whine about everything that is going wrong with the day and want everyone to jump on the bandwagon. This one will remind you that traffic is horrible, he or she has been waiting for two hours, and getting acting work is all just luck anyway. I've seen actors chime in and sabotage their own audition with a bad attitude. The "social butterfly" flutters around talking to anyone who will listen. This is the acquaintance who sees you preparing, in a corner even, says hello, asks you about your life, and expects you to engage in conversation. Choose to politely say, "I'd be happy to talk with you after my audition." You'll have reclaimed your power, and the leech will move on to the next victim. There will always be actors with negative energy. Choose your reaction, walk away, and focus on preparing the work.

In stressful situations, such as auditioning, it's easy to bring up negative thoughts you have unwittingly programmed into your brain that keep you from feeling good about yourself and your work. Sometimes the smallest action can spark insecurity. Actors often tell me how easy it is to get intimidated in the waiting room just by signing in. The minute they see a recognizable name or someone with a bigger, better agent, the negative self-talk begins. You can easily undo these feelings by choosing to focus your thoughts and energies elsewhere. Think of all you have accomplished and remember that no one was born with a SAG card or an agent. Make peace with where you are right now and try to enjoy the journey.

In an audition, the main goal is not to please your representation. They don't expect you to get a callback or book the job every time they send you out. They took you on as an investment, almost like a stock. Sometimes you will rise, sometimes you will fall, and in the long run they hope to make money, as do you. They know you are doing your best, so don't add pressure to yourself by thinking they'll drop you if you don't get a callback. Focus instead on your preparation and being present in the moment.

Forget about trying to book the job. That is something you cannot control. They may have already hired the director's girlfriend by the time you go in the room. What you can control is going in, having fun, and letting your love of the work shine through. Have you ever booked a job when you were focused on getting the job? When you detach from the outcome, you are much more open to the unlimited possibilities that could come your way. Bring joy to the work and allow the chips to fall where they may; odds are the casting director will remember you and bring you in another time.

It's very easy to think of the ways in which your life could change should you book this job. Some actors fantasize about the money they could make and how they would spend it, what they would say on Leno, or whom they would call to impress back home. Visualizing and dreaming big are great things to do, but not right before your audition. This adds an extra layer of pressure and stress you don't want to create. If you need the money, overthinking booking the job can easily lead to a sense of desperation that producers and casting directors can smell a mile away.

Nothing anyone else does is because of you. Actors have a hard time comprehending this and end up frustrated at those who could hire them. When a casting director is in a bad mood, it most likely has nothing to do with you. When producers are eating during your audition, it is probably because they are not getting a lunch break. Although their behavior may not be polite, you can choose to be offended or to have a great audition.

Be gracious, say thank you, and leave. If anyone wants to see anything else or talk to you more, you'll know. Sometimes actors do a great audition and shoot themselves in the foot by talking too much and wearing out their welcome. Leave the room having everyone feel like you'd be a pleasure to work with for 18 hours a day on the set.

Wendy Braun is currently recurring on General Hospital and shooting the Hallmark miniseries Pandemic. She can be contacted for career coaching at