1 Way to Work Through Audition Fears

A few weeks ago a location scout for a network sitcom approached me. They were going to be filming one scene at the house across the street from mine. They were offering me $1000 to put some polar bears on my lawn. After playing hardball and getting them to $1100, the deal was made. On the day of filming I realized that four other of my neighbors also had also agreed to have Christmas decorations up. So that had to be upwards of $5,000, and then the actual house they were filming at must be getting well over that much. Close to 100 people and dozens of trucks showed up the next day. All this for one scene. Over a million dollars for a 30-minute show. Being on the outside and watching this production gave me a different perspective of what’s at stake when we walk into an audition.

In class last night one actor mentioned that she feels like she gets smaller when she walks into an audition room. That nerves or any number of insecurities can pop up and get in the way. I brought up the business side of things. If I’m a producer I want to see that I can rest a million-dollar show on your shoulders—whether it’s a one-line scene or a lead. So if we let the nerves take over, then we are significantly diminishing our chances of booking.

I still get nervous before an audition. It’s natural given the circumstances, but how much or how little I let it take over is up to me. It’s an athlete’s frame of mind, as opposed to an actor. Athletes don’t go into a game hoping that they will win or that the other team will give them a break. And it takes practice, practice, and practice. I was painfully shy growing up and a few years ago I realized that it was still affecting me, and to a certain extent, probably always will. I would be out hiking and avoid any kind of eye contact. However, it’s our job to push past comfort zones and so I made eye contact a goal. Every time I was out on the trail I would attempt to make some kind of eye contact. Some reacted like I was crazy others with total distain…but a few actually smiled back. I kept at it. While hiking this weekend I randomly met an actor who commented that he had noticed that I was really looking at him. It might sound small, but as we all know, it’s the little things that can sometimes make the biggest difference.

What we work on in life translates in the room. What holds us back in life is what holds up back in the room. Last night I suggested this idea to my class. To the actor who brought up feeling smaller in the room, I suggested that she work daily on being larger in life. To walk in and light up a room, a coffee shop, or her agent’s office—that if she pushed past her comfort zone on a daily basis, then it won’t feel like such a leap when walking in for an audition. Practice in life what holds you back in your work.

Like this advice? Check out more from our Backstage Experts!

Sara Mornell
Sara Mornell is a working actor, coach, and Backstage Expert.
See full bio and articles here!