These tips may seem obvious, but I see actors disregard them all the time, so here’s a refresher.
Relax your nerves. Unless you are crashing the audition (and please don’t), you have been invited into the room because casting thinks you have what it takes to deliver the sides, land the role, and make the CD look like a rock star to the producer and director. Keep in mind that by getting an audition, you’ve already made it past the first cut from the hundreds of submissions received.
Wipe your hands. If you insist on shaking hands with everyone in the room, make sure the hand you offer isn’t sticky or sweaty. A simple hello or wave or fist bump would be fine, too.
The rule of three. Whether you are auditioning for a drama or comedy (or a dramedy), pay attention to how a writer strings the words together. If the words are repeated three or more times in a row, or the dialogue is written in such a way that you’re listing things, it probably means the writer is emphasizing a point, or creating a rhythm for comedic purposes or dramatic build up, so try to figure out what that point is, and don’t go against his/her intentions by breaking up that rhythm.
Look like your headshot. Casting picked your headshot and resume after looking over hundreds—sometimes thousands—of submissions. You don’t have to enter the room wearing the same outfit as in your pic, but if your hair is blown out and your makeup is impeccable in your headshot, don’t enter the room looking like you just rolled out of bed. If you have hair and a beard in your headshot, don’t come in with your head and face shaved. The DMV might not care, but casting does.
Take nothing personally. Being an actor means you need to have thick skin. If the people in the room have vacant expressions on their faces, it doesn’t necessarily mean they hate you. Something is on their minds and it probably has nothing to do with you. Maybe they’re hungry and thinking about what to order for lunch. Saying hello usually snaps them out of it. If you don’t get applause after your brilliant audition, it could mean you weren’t right for the role, but it might also mean you were so good you have rendered us speechless. Trying to read our minds will drive you insane. As long as you gave us your best take on the material and made any adjustments we gave you, your job is done. Leave the room, go get some ice cream, and find your happy place.
Ask questions before the slate. Actors have more control in an audition than they think. You aren’t sure of something? Ask. It might help you do a better audition and that makes casting look good. But once you slate, the camera is rolling,and the time for questions is over. It’s time to do the scene.
Engage the camera. The reader’s position in an on-camera audition is calculated so that the camera will capture your face well during the scene. So look at the reader. Directing your lines to your left/right, behind/above you while the reader is directly in front of you makes you look crazy. Don’t be crazy. Also? Don’t look straight into the camera. One more time: Look at the reader.
Rise above the paper. No need to memorize the lines, but the more comfortable you are with the material, the better your audition will be. We want to see your face, not the top of your head. Need to keep the sides in your hand? Fine, but lower them enough for us to see your face. If a session is running late, don’t complain about it. We did not plan it that way to make you miserable. Instead, use the waiting time to keep studying the sides to see if you can make any new discoveries in the material.
Do your homework. Is it a comedy or drama? Union or nonunion? When does it shoot? Did you read the script? What did you like about it? The casting director sifted through all the submissions and his/her personal files and decided you were one of the people worth seeing for this project. You should do your homework as well.
Hang up the phone. Some audition scenes will include characters speaking on the phone, but keep in mind we need to see your facial reactions. Holding your cell phone in the crook of your neck isn’t necessary. It could muffle your voice, you could get a call (happens all the time), or it could make you look down or away (drives me crazy). The people in the room are creative people; we have imaginations and know what phones look like.
Keep these pointers in mind, and you’ll already be ahead of some of your competition. Break a leg!