How to Show Your Authentic Self in College Auditions

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Photo Source: Unsplash courtesy Cole Keister

I say it over and over, but it bears repeating. The college auditors just want to see you. They do not want you to play a part, portray a role, or disguise yourself in any way. This is why one of the cardinal rules for college auditions is no dialects or accents. When you walk in that audition room, the reps have just a few minutes to get to know you. So you need to make it easy for them to see your true self.

“Be yourself” is the motto. That sounds simple enough, but for a 17-year-old high school student, this can be more difficult than it sounds. The tendency is to out-perform the person in the room before you, choose material that auditors will never forget, and show them all the wonderful facets of your talent. But auditors tell me this is actually not what they want to see. First of all, in a two-to-five-minute audition there is no way to show everything you can do, so trying to do that will always fail. You will end up showing them nothing all. They want to see you perform material that you sincerely resonate with, prepared in the simplest way that shows them something specific about you as a person. Surprisingly, the subtlest most honest audition performance will often leave the strongest impression.

But first, you will need to do some internal digging and thoughtful introspection in order to know what part of yourself you want to share in the audition room. This can be a challenge as many teens are still trying to figure out who they are. Be aware that your chosen material is a direct refection of your personality. Determine the answers to questions such as: Are you passionate about politics? Do you champion any social causes? Are you sensitive and shy, or the goofy class clown? Are you the responsible leader and organizer, the quirky offbeat best friend, the hopeless romantic, or the athlete? Begin to know you are so you can show who you are.

I have outlined some simple steps to get you started.

Know Who You Are

  • Take a personal assessment by quizzing your friends, family, and teachers. Ask each of them to give you four adjectives that describe your personality. This is a fun way to see what kind of impression you make with those who know you best.
  • Choose four celebrity performers you think are most like you and why. This can include physical appearance, personality, and talent. Also note what kind of roles they typically play.

Show Who You Are

  • Choose material that is age appropriate and within your life experience. Don’t perform roles that are considerably older than you or going through something that is outside of your direct world of knowledge. Use the information gathered in the personal assessment when looking for material.
  • Your material should reflect your own understanding of how you will be cast and what type you are, while at the same time revealing something personal about who you genuinely are as a person. Tally the most common adjectives that friends, family, and teachers used to describe you and let that be your guide. Compare audition material with your celebrity performers list and the roles they typically play.

You will begin to find similarities and consistencies in the way people view you and in the material that speaks to you. Trust that you are enough. And as Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

Break a leg!

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
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Mary Anna Dennard
Mary Anna Dennard is a nationally recognized college audition coach and the founder of, the first ever online prep for college performing arts applicants.
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