Clean Slate

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Follow these tips and your slate should grab the clients, ensuring they'll actually watch your audition. Seriously, do you think they take hours out of their day to watch every single audition? You have to hook them with your slate first.

1. Slate your name. Keep your eyes open and say your name with a tiny break between the words, so you're not "Joeschmo" but "Joe Schmo." They have to find your name among more than 100 others on the log of the audition DVD, so let them hear it clearly. And look happy when saying your name, as if you're in the room with old colleagues you're glad to see again. Think, "Hey, we worked on that thing at that place, yeah, that was great." If you're under 18, you must also state your age. If you look younger than 18 but aren't, you can say, "I'm emancipated," which means the producers don't have to hire a teacher and a social worker and require that your guardian be on set.

2. Don't identify your agency. Your agent might tell you to always say "XYZ Talent" on your slate, but it only makes you look like an actor. Yes, the clients know they're watching actors audition, but what they really want to find is a real person who a) knows how to hit a mark and b) happens to be perfect. Not a difficult or overexposed "actor."

3. Now wait. The session director will tell you if anything else is needed. For example…

4. Your profiles. If they ask to see you in profile, turn each ear toward the camera. Keep your feet planted, keep your eyes in camera as long as is comfortable, and think a secret, happy, sexy thought. Don't talk unless you're asked a question. You can answer during your profiles, but still do the eyes-in-camera, secret-thought trick. You don't want all expression to fall from your face so your profiles look like a mug shot.

5. Your hands. If asked to show your hands, imagine you're playing peekaboo. Put both hands right in front of your face. (This will feel odd at first.) Then flip them over so they can see the palm side. Video cameras can't see small details; the clients just need to know that you do have all 10 fingers, and if you don't, they can hire a hand model for the shoot.

6. The full turnaround. Up to this point, the framing has been tight on your head and shoulders. If they ask you to turn, they've widened the frame to reveal you from head to toe. Just turn all the way around. Don't look down, don't shuffle, but when your backside is to the camera, women might add a little hip shift and guys might try a belt tug. It says, "I know you're looking at my behind, and I'm okay with that." Then for God's sake keep turning.

7. The ubiquitous personality question. Your answer must be longer than one word yet shorter than 30 seconds. Stay away from religion, politics, and anything too sexual or vulgar. Think outside the box while answering in threes. For example: "What's your favorite movie?" Possible answer: "The Grapes of Wrath, West Side Story, Shrek." "Who would you invite to dinner?" Possible answer: "George Washington Carver, Minnie Mouse, my mom." If they ask, "What have you done lately?," answer with real-life stuff. And you can be creative; no one's going to check out your answers!

The most important thing during your slate is to be present and ready for anything.