Your dream is to be a working actor. You’ve always been told you “have it,” but the phone doesn’t ring for callbacks.
What separates professionals from wannabe talent show prodigies isn't inspiration. It’s preparation and execution. Take control of your audition with these ten helpful tips to improve your skills.
It sounds simple but it takes practice. Walk in the door with your held head high. Be wary of shuffling feet. You don’t get sympathy points if you’re nervous, not feeling well, or having a bad day. Leave it outside the door. You are being sized up the minute you walk in so practice good posture and body language before you arrive. And don’t forget to smile—that’s the lasting impression you want to leave.
Let it shine through. Don’t give one-word answers when having a conversation with the casting director. Ask questions! The industry is looking for smart, curious actors.
Make one with the reader. Memorize the material or be familiar enough with it to maintain eye contact. Knowing the dialogue is important, but making a connection with the reader is what will make the scene natural and believable.
Know the character. Read the entire script beforehand to pick-up as many clues as possible. We know about a character by the following:
- What he/she says about himself/herself
- What other characters say about him/her
- What the playwright or screenwriter says about him/her
Go underneath the dialogue. What does he/she want from the other characters? What is the character’s purpose in the scene/story?
What’s in the way of the character getting what he/she wants? Acting is what happens to you as you try to get your objective met, in spite of the obstacle.
Yelling isn’t the only way to show hatred or anger. Sometimes being quiet as you make your point is a powerful display of emotion. Playing opposites is a much more interesting choice than the obvious.
Find the love in the scene; even nasty characters should be likable on some level. Find a moment in the scene where the love can show through.
Acting means to do, not to talk. Find your actions and play them! (A wonderful resource is the book “Actions: The Actor’s Thesaurus” by Marina Caldarone and Maggie Lloyd-Williams.)
Feel the levels and dynamic in the scene. Don’t play one emotion. If the character is angry or tough, when might he/she show some vulnerability?
Wannabe? Not you! Interesting, memorable auditions will start to happen for you when you dig into scripts with these thoughts in mind before and during your auditions.
*This post was originally published on Oct. 23, 2012. It has since been updated.
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