How to Compete as an Actor on a Global Scale

Photo Source: Photo by Slava Bowman on Unsplash

If you’re reading for a pilot or major role in a film, you’re not just auditioning against the 25 actors you see in the waiting room or the 50 local actors who may have submitted tapes. The breakdown has no doubt also been sent to agents and managers all over the world. Globalization is the rule in every part of our business—including casting.

But how do you compete with the world? Here are three things to focus on that could increase your chances of booking, no matter the competition.

You need to be totally unique.
When you’re trying to stand out from 500 to 1,000 actors, it’s essential that every moment of your audition shows the specific energy and life that you and only you have to offer the role. No generic shtick. No decision that isn’t fully explored through all three of your sense doors: body, mind, and heart. You’ll need to have the tools to go deeper and deeper into the role and find what’s truly unique about you.

The writing these days—especially for television—is better than it’s ever

been. Combined with the fact that you have time to prepare means casting is expecting more of actors. Nothing less than the rawest and truest parts of your heart and soul bringing the words on the page to compelling, fascinating life as only you can do. There’s nobody in the world who can beat that.

You need the tools to explore the text.
The training American actors receive in text analysis, even in some of the better conservatory programs, tends to lag behind that of the drama schools in Europe (England in particular) where there’s a great deal of emphasis put on the written word. In this country, the training tends to be more performance-based, with actors reading a piece of material and immediately deciding how they want to play it before understanding all of the intricacies of the writing. If there are actors around the world who are able to find things in the text that make their auditions more interesting and intelligent than yours, they will book the roles—and that’s exactly what’s happening.

READ: 10 Tips for a Winning Self-Tape Audition

I started my career in this industry as a development executive and have a great passion for writers and the script. I know as an audition teacher, set coach, and script doctor how essential it is for the actor to intimately know the story they’re telling before they make even one creative decision of their own. Adding something “great” to the scene is just meaningless inflection unless you truly understand the scene.

I love teaching text work in class and seeing how much richer my students’ understanding and acting are because of it. The process I use turns the actor into a text detective, able to uncover all the tiny secrets and treasure the writer has built into the scene. This knowledge is essential to compete on the world stage and gives you a huge advantage over all of the actors who have no idea of the subtitles of the scene and appear to just be saying a bunch of random words with some inflection. Text expertise makes a job-getting difference.

Be a compelling presence in the room.
One of the primary jobs of the auditioning actor is to give the people in the room the confidence to hire you. This means not only doing the work that brings the words on the page to life in the most interesting way, but also establishing the strongest presence.

You can only do this if you truly feel like you and your work enrich the project you’re auditioning for in an essential way. In other words, you need to feel like you honestly belong there. Only then can you run the room with authority and make the people in the room feel like they’re in good hands.

It’s your job to connect not only through your work but through your presence in the room. Your strength, confidence, and enthusiasm will have as much to do with your booking the job as your reading.

Remember, our business is no different than any other in that we hire people we like and think will be fun and exciting to work with. I’ve been in rooms where the top picks talent-wise lost to the person everyone liked better.

With so many auditions starting with a self-tape or a taped audition, actors can sometimes fixate on that part of the process and forget how important managing and ruling the room is. If your tape was good enough to land you in the room, great. Now it’s time to clear the last hurdle by being a compelling presence in front of the people you’re going to work for. Only if you’re the whole package do you get the job.

These three pillars of a great audition aren’t new. But now that you’re auditioning against the world, it’s essential that your skill level in these disciplines be higher than ever before.

In today’s global environment there is no room for anyone who is not impeccable in every aspect of the art of auditioning and the craft of acting.

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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.