How Actors Can Escape the ‘Waiting Room’

Article Image
Photo Source: Spencer Alexander

I’m at the point in life where I’ve conquered all my demons except one: impatience. Seriously, is there anything worse than having to wait in line or in traffic? That’s why I never go to In-N-Out. 

What about you? Do you have an abundance of patience after an audition, or do you wish like crazy for an immediate response?

Instead of being smart and calling it a day after they say goodbye to the CDs, most actors send themselves to the proverbial waiting room. Once they’re in there, that’s all they do: wait and wait and wait for news that may never come. How frustrating is that?

RELATED: How to Get Cast In the Marvel Cinematic Universe 

I always tell my clients that it’s incredibly important to let go of their expectations after they leave an audition. Once you’re done, it’s done. Nothing annoys me more than a client asking, “Did you hear anything?” Trust me—if I did, they’d be the first to know.

Oh, wait. I lied. There’s something that annoys me even more: actors begging for feedback. 

Take my advice: Don’t ask your agent for notes after every single audition unless you want to get dropped. Reps tend to be selective about when they bother casting directors for this information. Those people are busy bees, and their days tend to be full. That’s why we only ask when it really matters. ​​

For example, if my client has several callbacks and goes right down to the wire but doesn’t book the job, it’s totally cool for the actor to ask for feedback, and I have no problem passing that request along to casting. But that’s a rare situation. Most of the time, you’ll audition, hear nothing, and life will go on.

Now, let’s say you do get some news. Let’s say your agent tells you that the part went to someone else. Don’t assume the person who got the gig is a lot better than you are, with impeccable, Juilliard-level training. More than likely, they’re not. They’re probably just another actor who was sitting in the waiting room right across from you, and the powers that be made a choice based on factors that are out of your control. (You’re too tall. You’re too short. You’re too old. You’re too young. It’s always something.) 

The smartest thing you can do after an audition is take detailed notes. Write down the names of every CD you met, the title of the project, details about the role, the date you auditioned, and the outcome. You should also perform a debrief. Ask yourself: What could you have done differently? If it was a self-tape, how was the picture and sound quality? But most importantly, take note of what you did right. There’s nothing wrong with patting yourself on the back.

Getting stuck in the waiting room is frustrating, but you’re not alone. Next time, take a look around, and you’ll see that I’m right there with you. That’s because the only person who wants you to book the role more than you is me! 

So, have some sympathy for both of us. And next time we’re in the waiting room together, bring some gummy bears. I love those sugar bombs; chewing them is my favorite way to pass the time.

This story originally appeared in the June 1 issue of Backstage Magazine.

Author Headshot
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.
See full bio and articles here!