What books the job in the audition room? Who the hell knows? You can’t know for sure what will get you hired, and you just have to not care. Your focus cannot be on booking the job or on how to do it right. There are so many factors that go into someone getting cast in a role. Are you taller than movie’s lead? Different from what the writer pictured in her head? Does the producer only want a name actor?
All you have control over is the work you do in the room.
We were talking about this in class today: how to have the confidence to drop in. And the answer is not to audition—not to show up to be evaluated or judged and not to do what you imagine is their perfect idea of the role is. They don’t have a perfect idea. They want you to move them. They want you to take their words and make them soar.Your job is not to audition for the role. Your job is to bring yourself to the story. Your job is to go to work.
Here are a few things that book jobs in the audition room. They certainly work for us.
1. Treat the audition as play. Throw yourself fully into the joyousness of the world. You love to act, so love this moment to do just that.
2. Stop acting. We hear this a lot. We say it a lot. Because it’s true. You don’t have to show us your work or pull out your bag of tricks. You have to simply drop in with ease, grace, and truth. There is no display in that—only the human experience. That’s not only enough; it’s absolutely everything.
3. Show yourself. Let us see you, your heart, your guts, your spirit. Share yourself with generosity. (And that can only happen if you embrace absolute vulnerability.)
4. Understand the difference between preparation and exploration. You cannot recreate your practice; you have to do that work, know that it’s in you, and show up ready to make discoveries. That means making bold choices that are unique to you and then trusting that this is where your preparation gives you the confidence to be fully in the moment.
5. Get messy. Get human. Yes, know your lines (however that happens for you). You’ve done the work. Now it’s time to allow your humanness to happen.
6. Get personal. How is this piece personal for you? It might hurt your heart, make you angry, or be really uncomfortable. Terrific. We want to invest in you. And if you’re deeply and personally engaged, we’re gonna root for you—even if you’re doing terrible things.
7. Live in the other person. Sanford Meisner said, “Acting is not talking. It’s living off the other fellow.” Even if you’ve got a “bad reader.” We talk about the gift of a bad reader in this audio blog.
8. Get intimate. Film is an intimate medium. The camera perceives everything. So why not get close? Sometimes the room encourages you to stand or sit 10 feet away from the reader. But if you can, get closer. Create intimacy. It changes everything.
9. Offer yourself with generosity in the spirit of collaboration. We’re all there to do our work. You have as much right to be there as anyone else. If you bring yourself to the room with generosity, offering something rather than wanting something, your work will be stronger and our hearts will open.
10. Give yourself permission. Whatever works in your freest times of performance is what you’ve got to bring into the room, so give yourself permission to trust your instincts and exercise your point of view. We’ll see you take leadership and it’ll be a relief that you’re in full creative command.
11. Let go. Surrender. Since you cannot determine the outcome, why not give that up? Give up doing it right (whatever that is) and surrender to the work itself. Inhabit the world of the play. Throw yourself into the scene (with whomever you’re working) and see what happens.
Just relax! (Don’t you hate when people say that?) But you have to be open, relaxed, and available.
Not caring about booking helps. Focusing on the work and not the job helps. Being in the pure spirit of the work helps. Making what you want in the scene more important than getting the casting director to like you helps. Knowing that you’re far more important than any audition helps even more.
You can’t please anyone. You can’t give them exactly what they want because they don’t know what that is. And even the most anxious writer wants you to bring voice and humanity to what she’s written. She wants you to inhabit her words. And most of all, she wants you to affect her.
So what if you didn’t try to “book” anything at all? What if you just did you absolute most incredible work? Aim for that. Aim for immersing yourself so fully in the work that you become undeniable. Aim for deep, personal, intimate connection—a power that comes with being fully engaged, boldly, without apology. That is the rush of being an actor. And that rush will take you, and us, to the promised land. And that, well, that books work.