10 Tips for a Winning Audition

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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 10 helpful tips to improve your skills.

1. Confidence
It sounds simple but it takes practice. Walk in the door with your head held 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.

2. Personality
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.

3. Connection
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.

4. Character.
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 they say about themselves
  • What other characters say about them
  • What the playwright or screenwriter says about them

READ: How to Audition

5. Objective
Go underneath the dialogue. What do they want from the other characters? What is the character’s purpose in the scene and story?

6. Obstacle
What’s in the way of the character getting what they want? Acting is what happens to you as you try to get your objective met, in spite of the obstacle.

7. Opposites 
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.

8. Love
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.

9. Act
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.)

10. Variety
Feel the levels and dynamics in the scene. Don’t play one emotion. If the character is angry or tough, when might they 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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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.

Author Headshot
Denise Simon
Denise Simon is a New York-based acting coach and career consultant who has been involved in the entertainment industry for more than 30 years as an actor, teacher, director, casting director and personal talent manager.
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