I was running a commercial audition last week and was blown away by the number of actors who apologized in the room for doing unprepared work. What puzzled me was why they hadn’t prepared better—specifically in the waiting room—and why they felt the need to apologize once they were in the room.
Once, I had an actor waiting in the waiting area, chatting on his phone. Apparently, it was a hysterical conversation because he couldn’t stop laughing—loudly. He was so loud I had to break from my session to politely ask him to quiet down as I was picking up his laughter on my session tape.
The job I was working on had a lot of story to it and not that much dialogue. The dialogue the actor did have was challenging because he had to ad-lib much of it, meaning that if the actor didn’t know the story, it would be difficult to ad-lib. If you don’t know the story, then it’s very difficult audition.
When I called the laughing actor in, he made small talk and when I asked him if he had any questions, he replied, “No, I’m ready for this.”
With the camera rolling, he immediately stopped and apologized “Oh, sorry about that, I guess I should’ve looked at this in the waiting room. The dialogue is a real tongue twister.”
Did I mention he was ad-libbing?
So I said, “No problem; let’s give it another whirl.”
For the second time, he flubbed and said, “Man, I don’t know what’s wrong with me today. Hahahaha. Can I go again?”
“Sure,” I said, testing my patience. “Let’s give it one more shot.”
For the third time, the camera started rolling. Toward the very end, he stopped again and said, “I’m so sorry, I don’t know what’s going on. I knew it out in the waiting room.”
Now, this is a good actor, someone I see a lot. He has a great agent, fabulous management, and he’s booked several jobs in the past. But his performance in the room that day not only made him feel insecure about his audition, but it also made him feel poorly about his work. Apologizing for your work degrades the work, makes it more challenging to get back on the horse when you flub and puts more pressure on you to “get it right” in the room.
Want to set yourself up for success in the audition room? Do your homework. It’s your job to flesh out the story and make a strong personalized choice that’s fun, exciting, and energizing so you walk into the room empowered by your choices, not hiding behind apologies.
Ready for the audition room? Apply to casting calls on Backstage!
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