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Heery Casting, Philadelphia; theatre, films, TV, and commercials; credits include Rocky Balboa

They don't listen. They get caught up in the excitement of having an audition, and when they're given direction, they aren't really hearing it and absorbing it. They're too wrapped up in everything else. Or they're too married to what they prepared before they walked into the room. That's what defines who moves on: the people who can deliver and listen. Improv classes always help because understanding how to live more in the moment can help. Being confident in who you are, I think, is a big part of it. The people who aren't that confident are the ones who freeze up. When you're confident, you're willing to take a chance, and that lends itself to more flexibility.

Lying on a résumé is the other most common thing I've seen. It's not a crime to say you've done background work. Don't build it up to say you were a featured player or hand me a résumé with a show I worked on, and I'm like, "I didn't cast you in that." It happens more often than you'd think. As much as you think it's a big industry, it's a small world.

Also, a lot of actors see themselves as a certain thing, and they're not. They have these headshots taken as if they're the next action hero, and there's no way. Anybody can be made to look a certain way [in headshots]. Actors really need to do some soul-searching as to what they are. They're selling a product, essentially, and they have to know what they're selling. Once they're able to define and see themselves for what they really are, then they'll be able to reflect.

Manager of casting for Touchstone Television and ABC, New York

Alot of actors don't prepare as much as they should. They haven't given it as much thought as they should. We're looking for somebody who has a fresh take. A lot of actors come in with a pretty average reading: It's not good, it's not bad, but it's not memorable. I think people are afraid to take risks in the audition room; nerves get in the way.

Actors don't claim much power [in the audition]; they feel defeated the minute they walk in. A lot of it is the actor's responsibility. We can't play shrink. We can't give them the confidence they need. The audition is not a full performance. It's important that the actors remember to bring as much of themselves to the role [as] the role allows. Ultimately it's about making smart, specific choices that clarify their take on the role without being too freaky or intense. It's important that the dialogue remain honest and truthful. It's important for the actors to know their boundaries.

Actors don't choose headshots that look like them. People have a false sense of what they look like. Actors should take their picture to family and friends and people who know them really well and say, "Does this capture me?" Not "Is this a good picture of me?" but "Does this capture my energy?" This is a common mistake. An actor will take a picture, and it's a beautiful picture, but it doesn't really look like them. It's about having a very good picture that captures their energy and who they are.

Yumi Takada Casting, Redondo Beach, Calif.; commercials, industrials, films, video games, music videos, print ads, and voiceovers

When I see actors come into the casting studio without reading the storyboard [for a commercial project], I always want them to go back to the waiting room to look at the board and try to understand what kind of character and situations we want. Lots of producers just send us the storyboard and then let us figure out what kind of audition we should have, so the storyboard has so much meaning.

I also see some actors ask us what kind of audition is [happening] today. If you're a professional actor, ask your talent agent before you come to the casting studio, and be prepared. We sometimes see the actors just wear shorts and T-shirts when we're looking for a businessman, a sophisticated type, and they always say, "I didn't know what I should wear for this audition." Don't waste your valuable time. And always bring your headshot and résumé to all auditions, even if we didn't ask for them. Your headshot and résumé are your business card to distribute to all the casting directors and producers.

Gerrie Wormser Casting & Talent Counseling, Beverly Hills, Calif.; TV, film, commercials, industrials, theatre, print ads, music videos, and voiceovers

One of the first [mistakes I see] would be the begging. It's so humiliating. It's the worst thing you can do. The professionals know better, but the newcomers don't. The seasoned actors know what they're supposed to do, know the project, read the project, and get an idea of what the project is about. The new ones are so intimidated and nervous that they're not considering what the project is. They're considering how they look, what should they do, instead of just looking at the words and finding out what the meanings are and understanding what they're there for.

It's all in the preparation. To be outrageous just turns you off. It's a serious job. It's not a game. [Actors] come into the audition in jeans, cutoffs, or shorts for a part where they should really be dressed up. Some see themselves as a young Robert Redford, and really they're the young Robin Williams. Actors have to be realistic about what the market is. Where do you fit? Where do you think you fit? Where do you want to fit? If they want to make this a career and a living, they have to be realistic. Then they can mold and shape their expectations and figure out what things would be appropriate for them. What matters in the audition room is if an actor is looking the part, is prepared, and has the personality. The spontaneity you bring to [the audition] is the personality. Don't hide that. Don't try to be someone else. Try to find your personality.

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