A Working Actor Talks Putting a Stop to Audition Fears + Make Them Fun Again

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Do you have a love/hate relationship with auditions? Most actors want more opportunities to audition, but the process can be nerve-wracking. And we all know that audition nerves can kill your chances of getting booked.

I started acting when I was a kid. Back then, I was never nervous or self-conscious at auditions—I just did my thing and had a blast. I was given a screen test at 14 for a soap opera. The character was supposed to be 18 (I looked older than my age), so the screen test involved a romantic kiss with this handsome, 20-something soap star. Now, this was my very first screen test—ever—for a really huge life-changing job. It also happened to be my very first kiss. Was I nervous about the screen test? Heck, no! I was nervous about that kiss!

Fast forward to my early twenties, and BOOM. I suddenly became super nervous and self-conscious at auditions. I actually went through a phase where I would sometimes lose my voice during an audition. It was weird. After a year or so of awful auditions, I figured out why I had experienced such an extreme shift.

As a kid, I had no expectations about the audition beyond the audition room. I acted for the joy of it, not for my livelihood or to build up my resume so I could get the next, bigger job. I did it because I loved it. Full stop.

Once I became an adult, all that changed. There were real-life stakes for the outcome of the audition. I suddenly felt that I NEEDED to get that job. Booking the job became the entire endgame. Of course, the weight of my desperation squashed the love of acting right out of me. All that was left was fear.

READ: 1 Way to Conquer Your Audition Fear

Perhaps you can relate? You may not lose your voice at auditions—that’s an extreme (and some might argue cuckoo) response. But maybe you feel stiff or locked up or not as free as when you rehearsed. It’s an awful feeling when you know you didn’t do your best, isn’t it?

Thankfully, I’ve learned to love auditions again, which has improved my life, not to mention my booking rate. And if petrified laryngitis girl can do it, you can, too!

Here are some things I did that helped me overcome my fears:

1. Ask why.
If you often feel extremely nervous during auditions, ask yourself why. Keep asking until you find out where the fear is coming from. Sometimes the simple act of naming your fear gives it less power over you.

2. Go to the gym.
The actor gym, that is. Find a class you love and go regularly. If you work every week, you’re constantly exercising those acting muscles, which will, in turn, help you overcome your nerves.

READ: 4 Solutions To Easing Audition Nerves

3. Prepare.
Work on the copy so you know it like the back of your hand. If you’ve done your homework, you can audition with confidence, not fear.

4. Breathe with intention.
Learn how to breathe. Deep meditative breathing helps ground you. Learning how to breathe deeply and with intention was game-changing for me.

5. Focus on the work.
Practice letting go of any expectations and just focus on the work. No one is forcing you to be an actor—it’s what you love! If you remember your love of acting, it’s easier to embrace the audition as an opportunity to act, which is a great mindset to have at your audition.

Start to audition like a kid: for the pure love and joy of acting, and with zero expectations. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Actor and web designer Amy Russ helps actors showcase their cast-ability, personality, and professionalism with simple, effective, and affordable websites. Find out the crucial "5 First Steps" to creating a website that stands out in her free video training.

Now show those nerves who's boss with our short film audition listings!

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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Amy Russ
Actor and web designer Amy Russ helps actors showcase their cast-ability, personality, and professionalism with simple, effective, and affordable websites. She is also an actor who has been working in TV, film, and theater for years.
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