Welcome to the new, beta version of Backstage Magazine.

Are You Waving Red Flags in the Audition Room?

Photo Source: Twenty20

There are three important elements that dictate whether an actor not only books jobs but also can create and sustain a career. The first is the actor’s look. Every actor must present a marketable image that the industry is buying. The second element is talent. It is crucial that actors consistently work out their acting muscles in classes, workshops, on web series, and in plays. The third element is one actors tend to forget about. It can foreshadow what an actor is going to be like on set and play a big part in whether they actually book the job, no matter how talented or amazing their audition. That element? Attitude.

I’m not just talking about a bad attitude although a bad attitude won’t get you a job. Many actors are unaware they present attitudes that are red flags to casting directors, producers, and directors warning them that this actor is not going to be easy to work with. Are you waving any of these red flags?

The Cocky Compensator
A confident actor not only believes in their talent and can back it up with their abilities, but also owns their weaknesses and is open to other’s ideas and input. A cocky actor is covering their insecurities and too afraid to admit their faults. It’s okay not to know or not to be the best or to not understand, so ask questions. Own your insecurities. A director is more apt to hire an actor who is willing to learn than one whose stubborn insecurities may end up costing a lot more time and money. No one wants a cocky actor on their set.

READ: 3 Words Every Actor Should Live By

The Overly Nice, High Maintenance Best Friend
Just as no one likes the “I’m too cool” cocky actor, the fake sweet “what can I do for you?” actor can also cause a lot of tension on set. Producers and directors envision that actor always being in their face, always trying to please them, always looking for validation. Of course, you want to be nice and friendly. Of course, you want to be helpful and get along with everyone. But what you really want to do is get in there, do your job, and leave without causing any problems or disturbances. That’s how you get a director to love you. That’s how you get rehired. No one is there to be your BFF or your confidant or to constantly tell you how special you are. They’re there to get work done and so are you.

The Whining, Needy Complainer
If you come walking into your audition complaining about parking or the people in the hallway who were talking or that you didn’t get your sides on time or that your agent didn’t tell you the right thing to wear or that you had to work late the night before or you begin making excuses about everything or you stop halfway through and ask for line readings...know that everyone in the room has marked you as poison. Work out your issues with your therapist, your mother, your roommate, or even your agent. Just don’t do it in the audition space. Be professional, not needy.

And remember...
...watch your resting face. Everyone has heard of Resting Bitch Face, right? What about Resting Mean Face, Resting Tough Guy Face, Resting Bored Face, Resting Snarky Face, Resting Judgmental Face?

Most people aren’t aware of the attitudes their neutral faces emit. I have worked with a number of really sweet guys who have Resting Mean Face who were totally unaware. Big guys with tough guy expressions can be a little off-putting and/or scary. Those guys need to soften or “nice it up” just by smiling when they walk into any meeting or audition. I’m not saying you need to push down or hide a part of who you are, especially if that part is integral to your branding. I’m just saying, don’t lead with that as you enter the room. They need to like you and be comfortable with you first, then you can bring out the toughness, the snarkiness, or the judgemental-ness.

Take note of your resting face. You might not think you have a specific one, but I bet your friends, significant other, and work cronies are all aware of it. You should be too.

Having a marketable look can get you in the door. Talent will get you noticed. But it’s your attitude that might send up a red flag and determine whether you book the job or not.

Now check out our short film audition listings!

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.

Tom Burke
Tom Burke is an image consultant, headshot coach, and acting teacher. After transitioning from a successful print model to an accomplished on-camera actor to a proficient on-set acting coach, Burke focused his wealth of knowledge and keen eye to become one of L.A.’s premier image consultants and headshot coaches, and creator of the Castable Actor, a series of workshops, seminars, and advice designed to help actors open doors to a successful career.

Related Articles