How to Nail Your Next Live Virtual Audition, According to an Agent

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Photo Source: Spencer Alexander

In my early days as an agent, actors would meet with casting directors in person. But the world has changed; now, most auditions for film and television are done on tape. CDs review those performances and offers are made, often without any actual face time. This is why knowing how to make a self-tape has become one of the most important skills for an actor to master.

Here’s some good news: Since the strikes ended, my clients have been asked to do more “live virtual auditions”; in other words, they’re reading in front of real human beings over video chat. Yes, there are miles of physical distance between the actor and the casting team, but my clients are at least getting a chance to have an actual conversation. Even better, the casting director is able to give them notes. 

Initially, some of my clients were nervous about the difficulty involved in the whole virtual thing. But as it turns out, the process is super easy. Here are a few things I’ve learned from speaking with actors who have auditioned live on various platforms.

1. When your agent sends you the time and day for your audition, try your best to make yourself available, since there are a limited number of slots. If you do need to request a different time, let your rep know as soon as possible.  

2. Some actors use desktops or laptops to log into the audition, while others use their phones. The choice is yours. If you’re opting for the latter, make sure your phone is fully charged and that you frame yourself in landscape mode. And don’t forget to set your device to “do not disturb.”

3. It’s important to consider the space you’re auditioning in. Find a quiet room with good lighting, and make sure there aren’t any pets running around or making noise in the background. I’m sure your critters are cute, but no one cares about that when the clock is ticking and it’s your turn to read.  

4. To make sure there are no surprises come game time, test out all your equipment in advance. Also, be sure to rehearse in the same setting you’ll be auditioning in. 

5. Being late isn’t an option. If you miss your time, the casting team won’t move you to the back of the line; they’ll just take you off the list, and then your rep will have to beg them to let you self-tape. (Take it from me: Agents get upset about this sort of thing. We’re funny that way.) 

Here’s the part actors love: When you first enter the virtual space, you’re not face-to-face with the casting director; you’re in a waiting room—just like at the dentist’s office. Use this pause to check your framing, lighting, and background.  

Live virtual auditions give you a chance to connect with CDs on a more personal level. This is how long-term relationships are built, so take these opportunities seriously, and start planning for them now.

This story originally appeared in the Feb. 22 issue of Backstage Magazine.

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Secret Agent Man
Secret Agent Man is a Los Angeles–based talent agent and our resident tell-all columnist. Writing anonymously, he dishes out the candid and honest industry insight all actors need to hear.
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