Every summer, my casting director colleagues and I get together and celebrate the end of pilot season before episodic casting starts up again. Inevitably, we get to talking about our pet peeves in the audition room. Between the cocktails we regale each other with hilarious—and scary—stories. In the interest of education, I’d like to share how to avoid being “that guy.”
Don’t wear perfume or cologne. Please remember that we have to sit in an often small, cramped room without ventilation for hours on end. Some of us are highly sensitive and allergic to perfume and get migraines and nausea. Think of the casting office like you would a doctor’s office. Don’t do it!
No weapons, not even fake ones. I’ve had actors pull fake guns and knives on me—it was very traumatic. If a scene asks you to pull a knife out of your jacket, please don’t do that in an audition. This could lead to a big producer putting you in a chokehold.
No touching the casting director. I was in a producers’ session reading a scene about a homeless guy who attacks a girl, and the actor put his arm under my chin so hard that he knocked the wind out of me. I was shaken. My producers were appalled. He was sorry, but I never brought him in again.
Staple your headshot and résumé together beforehand. Don’t ask to borrow a stapler. Make sure your contact info and agent/manager’s info are written on the photos and your résumé in case they get separated—which happens all the time.
Don’t audition if you’re not available for the job. Actors who think it’s better to be seen even if they aren’t available are wrong.
Excuses. Leave them at home. Prefacing an audition with “I’m tired/sick” says to me, “I am going to be really bad today.”
Don’t use a prop in a scene unless you are totally comfortable with it. I’ve seen props totally befuddle some people.
Men: Charm, wit, and personality are great, but flirting in a creepy way is just creepy.
Be nice and courteous to everyone. That receptionist could end up being a director or producer some day. And the interns definitely rat you out when you leave.
Don’t slap your sides on your thighs. It’s an unnecessary distraction.
We’re not your roommate or your acting coach. So if you start and stop or swear or break down, I have to assume that’s how you will be on set.
Don’t eat during the scene.
Take the time to go through all of the information on the breakdown, such as the names of the producers, the casting team, and which studio/network the project is for.
Take a shower first.
Don’t look around the audition room and ask if anyone else is going to be coming in. If they were, they’d already be there. Assume you’re there for a reason. Don’t start commenting on how you don’t match the description or that people in the waiting room don’t look like you. Just focus on the task at hand, which is your audition, right now.
Don’t ask permission to do something during the reading. Make the choice and let it be fresh and exciting to our eyes.
If your agent sends you out for a role with specific needs and you know you’re not qualified (i.e., authentic native language, dancing or singing ability) please cancel.
Believe it or not, all of these stories are true. I’ll bet that the actors reading this have equally unprofessional stories to tell about the producer who was on the phone the entire time they auditioned. Or the casting director who never once looked up from her computer to connect during their audition. Thankfully, they are the exception, and I’m continually amazed and impressed by the talented actors who come through my door.