6 Pilot Season Survival Tips From Michael Mosley


“I’m so lucky this pilot season because I have a gig,” says Michael Mosley, who can be seen on USA’s upcoming “Sirens” (premiering March 6). “Anytime you get a gig it’s nice, but what’s really nice is not having to tap dance. It’s always a huge, huge perk.” Mosley knows of what he speaks. A previous series regular on the short-lived “Kidnapped” and “Pan Am,” he spoke to Backstage about pilot season survival tactics.

Be prepared for a different process.
“There are so many tiers! If you’re just starting out, sometimes there’s not even a camera on in the room—you’re doing a pre-read with a casting assistant. Then they put you on tape. Then you get a callback with the creative people. Then you have to come up with a quote and all that business, and then you go and meet the studio and test with the writers and the Vince Gilligans and Matthew Weiners. Then impress the studio that’s gonna produce it and the network putting it up. And each room gets colder and colder.”

Create post-audition rituals.
“Every audition, I walk out the door and throw the sides away immediately. You did it, now go home. And to me, that’s kind of a baptism. If they call you, they call you. And if they don’t, it’s fine. You have to keep your head down and keep your eye on the next gig and the next gig and live your life.”

Make friends.
“The casting director is gonna be your buddy. The first heart you win over is that casting director. In first meetings they’ll be the ones who see your pitch for the character. And then as you get further up, they’ll be the ones reading with you in front of the network. You have to foster those relationships. There’s no enemy in the auditioning process. Everybody wants you to be the right person when you walk in the room. We’re all just trying to make a soup here and they’re trying to figure out the right ingredients for the soup.”

Attitude is everything.
“I can’t stress it enough: Try to be cool and enjoy it, but respect it and be prepared. It’s a challenge because during pilot season I’d be going in for a lawyer at nine, a junkie at noon, a Marine at one, and a part I’m not even right for at four. Four different characters, and you can’t go home between. So you try to dress kind of like all these different things because you don’t want to leave it all up to their imagination and give them a reason to talk themselves out of it.”

Show the room you have ideas.
“A lot of producers and creative types want to see you be you. Throw something else out there and show them where you would take this part. A lot of them are launching shows for the first time, so they’ve got a lot riding on this, too, and they want you to be their flight. It’s important to have confidence as far as who you think the person is. Take a stab at something different.”

Just let it go.
“If you don’t get the gig, it’s not about you. As long as you do your thing and do it passionately and with respect to the craft and the project, you can make an impression that could pay dividends later. All of a sudden, this assistant who was really nice to you has a writing deal and they bring you in. You have no idea how all this stuff is going to play out. And it will, as long as you keep your cool and have fun.”

—As Told to Mark Peikert