4 Tips for Acing an Audition for a Show That Hasn’t Aired Yet

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It’s always exciting to get a TV audition! Full stop. But what happens if the show hasn’t aired? Perhaps it’s even a pilot that hasn’t been fully cast yet?

If the show for which you’re auditioning has aired, you get to enjoy watching it to find out who the regular characters are and how they behave, and with whom your character is interacting. Just having those faces and characters in your mind during your scene will bring specificity to your audition. 

The fun of getting that audition quickly can turn scary when you realize you have no frame of reference for the tone, style, genre, type of comedy (if applicable), etc. You know you’re supposed to make smart and bold choices but how can you do that without information to honor the integrity of the show?

First, take a deep breath. There isn’t a hard and fast solution. However, with some sleuthing, you can arm yourself with good information to help you get closer to booking that role. Think of it as if it’s a top-secret mission (which, if it’s a Ryan Murphy project, it’s almost guaranteed to be top secret!) and scope the internet for clues like the following.

1. Research the creatives involved.
Start your research by looking at those who are involved in the show like the writers, producers, and directors. Often they will have had multiple series but even if they’ve worked on only one episode of a series, this will give you a frame of reference and can offer insight into their creative type, tone, and genre. 

2. Look up the network and studio.
If you’re auditioning for a show that will air on Disney, your research will reveal that the lead characters will likely be kids, the mom is usually the wise one, the dad is often a goof, and there’s probably a catchphrase or two. You can use this information to your advantage, especially if you have, say a scene where you’re a doctor giving the dad news about the lead child. If he’s a goof, you can choose to lean into the comedy of explaining things to him or use hand gestures while explaining or make the choice that you, as the doctor, can’t understand why the dad can’t understand the information you’re giving him. Depending on the scene, you might even be able to use the show’s catchphrase as a button. By researching the network and studio, you can learn some basics about the type of programming they usually offer and use that information during your audition.

3. Look up the casting director.
Sometimes you can make an educated guess based on the history of the casting director. There are plenty of casting directors who cast a variety of genres but often, they get branded or categorized with a genre. If you get an audition from Jane Smith and see that she’s cast nine out of the last 10 comedies for a major Hollywood comedy producer, there’s a strong likelihood you’ll be auditioning for a show that is similar to those nine or 10 shows or a show with that major Hollywood producer.

4. Search the trades.
When news is released, usually trade publications will announce that a certain network or studio purchased or is producing the project, that cast were added, etc. and there will often be a synopsis. This is usually a paragraph or two, but these articles can give you a more filled out idea of the world your scene might be living in. For example, take a look at Backstage’s Greenlit series which offers a look at projects officially underway.

Nothing is ever a guarantee, but this research will assist you in making choices when nothing else is available. Piecing together the information you find and trusting your creative instincts will lead you to an audition you and your team will be pleased with. You might even discover a fun nugget to incorporate into your audition that books you the role!

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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.

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Lauren White
Lauren White is an award-winning, leading character actor, producer, and animal rescue advocate, who loves making people laugh. She’s been featured in Variety, Yahoo! Entertainment, Authority Magazine, The Baltimore Sun, and on AfterBuzz TV for her work as a Primetime Emmy® Contender, content creator, and actor on “Parks and Recreation,” “House of Cards,” and the HBO Max pilot, “Delilah.”
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