It’s natural as an actor to get nervous before an audition. In fact, most acting classes have at least one class that focuses on teaching actors how to not be nervous before the audition. But the truth of the matter is, being nervous is an intrinsic part of the human experience and a part of what makes you strive for the best performance. What’s important to remember about nerves though, is that even if they are there, you’re in control of them and there are tools to utilize your nerves to better serve your performance. Wondering how to handle those nerves and put them to use? Here are five tools to add to your pre-audition tool kit.
1. Put your cellphone down.
We’re all attached to our phones. We’re all workaholics, looking for the next opportunity while an opportunity is right in the next room! If you’re like me, you’re attached to your email, scrolling through Instagram, and taking selfies to make sure your makeup is OK. I get it, but lately, I’ve noticed how many people are on their phones before an audition and I know that the “scrolling phenomenon” is a false mechanism to calm nerves. Turn your phone off as soon as you arrive at the audition. Don’t even let it be a distraction. The tool of putting the phone down is multifaceted. Seeing everyone in the audition room on their phones gives off two meanings. One is that they’re trying to calm their nerves by the scrolling mechanism and two is that they don’t care enough about the audition. Frankly, I don’t want either to represent me. The rest of this list will give you pieces to replace the phone with practical tools that will actually serve you in your audition.
2. Read or re-read a favorite excerpt.
You’d be surprised at what a line of encouragement can do. I compile a list of quotes from people I admire and keep it handy to pull out right before an audition. It’s encouraging to know that even the most successful actors of our time started somewhere. Where to find some of these encouraging quotes? Try picking up an autobiography from someone you love!
3. Try drawing.
Ever wonder why children love to draw? As we grow up, we often forget this simple means of expression. Before children learn to read or write, the first form of expression is drawing. One of the most beautiful things about acting is how it utilizes both your left brain (the more analytical side) and right brain (the more creative side). Drawing is another one of these activities. Having a pencil and a piece of paper to doodle while you’re waiting is a great way to both center yourself and start using both sides of your brain.
4. Make a list of ________.
For some actors, doing the same routine before an audition is helpful. For others, it may depend on the day. Sometimes, I can’t focus enough to start drawing so another tool I use is creating lists for myself. My favorite is making a list of things I’m grateful for. Or you could try something like “10 things I want this year” or “5 moments that I’m proud of.” Focusing your energy on gratitude and goals is a great way to remind yourself that you’re present, ready to do the audition, and also have other things going on!
5. Connect with your breath.
Above all else, it’s important to connect with your breath before an audition. Even taking three deep breaths is proven to relieve stress and reduce anxiety. By doing so, your body and your mind are working together so even if your heart is racing, taking some deep breaths immediately sends a message to your brain to calm down.
Getting nervous is a normal part of the process. Try not to beat yourself up over “being nervous again!” Instead, redirect those nerves into the above tools to center yourself, get into the creative and inspired part of your brain, and nail that audition!
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