Always think of any audition as an opportunity to act. It is a chance to do what you love. We put so much pressure on auditions that we often forget that we are doing something we enjoy. When you start to think about auditions as simply acting it takes some of the pressure off the audition. Here is a great video summing up this point:
If, like me, you are always dreading auditions because you put so much pressure on yourself, then it’s worth working out how to change this. Auditioning is a big part of an actor’s life, and the continuous anxiety and stress can be harmful.
2. Walk in confidently. Be genuine.
Be confident as you walk into the audition room and be genuine with the people you are auditioning for. Go up and introduce yourself with a hand shake and feel self-assured in knowing that they wanted to see you!
They asked for you. They want you to get the role.
Don’t pretend you know more than you do, just be yourself. Here is another great video which you can use pre-audition to help your confidence:
At the end of the day it’s your audition. Do whatever helps you. For some that means running lines and talking with the casting director, for others that means diving straight into the scene. Find your own audition process.
It’s not just about your acting
Theatre, unlike film and TV, has a long and intimate rehearsal process. Creating a positive and supportive atmosphere in the rehearsal room is a theatre director’s chief aim. At an audition, the director wants to see that you are open and great to work with. Showing passion for the project, offering unique ideas and sharing opinions about the play are great ways to show this.
3. Get on with it.
Don’t waste time.
It is absolutely fine to take a beat before you start your monologue, but don’t do a full vocal warm up or mediation session. Show them that you are the kind of actor who loves to work. Get in there, be professional and get the job done. At times it comes across as indulgent if you take a lot of time to prepare before your monologue. Of course if it’s an emotional piece there is a little more room here.
Be yourself, keep it simple and when you walk out that door let it go, grateful to have been given an opportunity to do what you love.
The best way to perform a monologue is to make a bold choice and commit to it. Show that you want to put your stamp on the character. The director will inevitably give you direction, so don’t worry about making the “wrong decision”.
There is no right way to play a character and directors will always be impressed by strong choices.
4. Be ready to take direction.
You will almost certainly be asked to do the monologue a second time with some new direction. I recommend preparing your monologue a number of ways before you come into the audition to prepare for this. Never fight with the director, be open and always try to take on their direction as best you can. If you don’t understand something get them to clarify.
5. Minimise gestures and movement.
Don’t use excessive gestures. In some circumstances it can really work to be very physical, but for most monologues you are better off keeping movement to a minimum. If you can stand (or sit) still and deliver a monologue that is very powerful and impressive.
Three common reasons for why we over gesture
Do you make gestures to show your acting?
Do you make excessive gestures because your nervous?
Do you make gestures out of habit?
These are the most common reasons, and all can be tackled through self awareness, physical work and experience.
Monologue Exercises. A simple exercise is to try your monologue sitting on your hands. You will quickly see how much you have been moving, and how that movement is distracting from the monologue.
The key to battling this problem is preparing your monologue properly so that you know what your objective is and who you’re talking to in the monologue. Is it a friend? Lover? Parent? Understand your relationship to the person you are performing your monologue to. When you are really transcended within the monologue a lot of your physical habits dissipate.
6. Be well warmed up before performing.
You simply have to warm up, I don’t care for how long.
Find some time to warm up before the audition. Even if it is just a 5-10 minute warm up, it will get you focused and ready to go. You will not only perform better, you will feel better walking into the audition.
Some quick vocal warm ups
Humming. Simple sets of humming. (Don’t push)
Scales. A basic major scale up and do to warm up your voice.
Deep breathing. This will calm you in the audition and also centre your breath.
Stretching. A free and open body leads to a free and open voice. So do some stretching and physical work.
Massage. Release tension through a quick massage. Common problem areas: jaw, chest and shoulders.
7. Don’t panic about your preparation. Be in the moment.
As we spoke about in how to rehearse a monologue, preparation is vital, but once you are in the audition room and performing your monologue don’t get caught up trying to remember all your preparation. If you have rehearsed well it will be in your muscle memory and you will be able to just relax and perform.
Rather than trying to uphold your preparation in an audition. Allow it to sit underneath your acting work. It will inform it, but it shouldn’t ever be a mechanical repeat of what you’ve practised a hundred times at home. Kevin Spacey told me some great advice at a workshop a few years back:
“Your character is saying this monologue for the first time”
This is pretty obvious, but it’s amazing how often we forget this. Each word, each line, each idea is a discovery in the moment. Don’t cling onto your preparation.
What if something goes wrong?
Forgetting a line or changing the intention of the monologue half way through can actually be a good thing. Les Chantery, one of the best acting coaches I know, calls these gift’s from the acting gods. Les argues that these “mistakes” often allow you to stop being mechanical and force you into the present moment.
8. Never look at the people you’re auditioning for.
Don’t look the director in the eye. (It’s just awkward)
This is a classic rule. It makes the people you are auditioning for feel uncomfortable and it can also make you uncomfortable and throw your performance. As a general rule I recommend placing your eye line just above their heads at about eye level.
If the monologue you are performing is to a person then perform it to someone. At most auditions they will have an actor there for this reason, so take advantage of that. If they don’t then perform the monologue to a mark in the room. Don’t perform it to the director.
9. Be clear and direct.
When speaking use your full voice, and be clear and direct with the person/audience you are speaking to. If you are auditioning for theatre, they are not just looking at your acting ability but your movement, posture, voice and confidence, so show them you are a well-rounded performer.
10. Give it your best.
The conclusion is this: if you have prepared well, the rest is out of your control. Be yourself, keep it simple and when you walk out that door let it go, grateful to have been given an opportunity to do what you love.
Acting as a career involves more than just performing in movies. Working actors perform in live theater productions, at theme parks, in commercials, and on television shows. As actors start their careers, many work multiple jobs, such as working as extras in films or TV, to support themselves financially.
While many actors live in large metropolitan areas, such as Los Angeles or New York, production companies all over the U.S. hire actors on a regular basis. Travel is often necessary, and competition for acting positions is extremely high. Acting can be a tiring career, both physically and emotionally; actors often spend hours at a time at repetitive auditions and rehearsals. Rejection is constant for new actors starting their careers.
Not required; bachelor’s degree helpful in learning the craft
There are no formal education requirements to become an actor but a bachelor’s degree in theater arts, drama, acting/ and performing
Having more, may be helpful in learning technical skills. Experience is of great importance in this career, as experience will leads to bigger, and higher paying roles
Creativity; speaking, literacy, and reading skills; memorization; physical stamina; persistence, discipline, and dedication; ability to communicate with a wide variety of people
$18.80 (median hourly wage for actors)
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
There are no formal education requirements to become an actor but a bachelor’s degree in theater arts, drama, acting and performing, may be helpful in learning technical skills. Experience is of great importance in this career, as experience leads to bigger and higher paying roles. Skills an actor needs include creativity, speaking skills, literacy and reading skills, memorization, physical stamina, persistence, discipline, dedication, and ability to communicate with a wide variety of people.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, the median hourly wage for actors as of 2015 was $18.80. It is important to note though, that wages vary greatly. The range from the lowest 10% to the highest 10% of earners was $9.27-$48.79.
Steps to Becoming an Actor
Although the path to becoming an actor may vary, here are five steps that you can take to become an actor.
Step 1: Take Classes
Although no formal training is strictly required to become an actor or actress, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that most professionals in the industry participate in college drama courses or acting conservatories. College degree programs allow students to expand their skills in various acting fields, including impromptu acting, sketch comedy, voiceover work and musical theater, while building their portfolios. An undergraduate degree program in drama or theatre includes coursework such as voice and diction, stagecraft, acting theory and stage management.
Step 2: Gain Professional Experience
Actors need whatever experience they can get in order to improve their skills and gain more recognition. Participating in college productions is an excellent way to bolster a resume and gain experience on stage or in front of a camera. It is important to keep copies of the recordings of these performances to show potential employers when auditioning for a role.
Many actors also start by participating in community theater productions. Others may choose to perform publicly at ‘open mic’ nights held by local venues. Performing in other public settings, such as nightclubs, dinner theaters or theme parks, can also help beginners get real world experience and help them become comfortable in front of an audience.
Step 3: Acquire Additional Skills
Because endless roles are available, the more an actor knows how to do, the wider the variety of auditions he or she is able to attend. For example, learning foreign accents or impressions may appeal to a certain market that was previously unattainable. Some roles may require that actors know how to dance, sing or both. Taking classes and practicing different skills can help actors prepare to play a variety of different characters.
Many actors choose to enlist the help of an acting coach, who is more experienced than they are. This coach helps them prepare for roles and find auditions while teaching them tricks of the trade.
Step 4: Find an Agent
While it is not mandatory, having an agent can make working as an actor easier. Agents complete most of the business-related tasks involved with acting, such as mailing out resumes, scheduling audition appointments and negotiating contracts. Having an agent completing these administrative tasks provides actors with more time to practice their skills. The majority of agents also have connections with casting directors, which means they can more easily connect clients with regular acting roles.
Actors often have to shop around for agents. Before actors submit resumes and audition tapes to agents, they may want to research each agent and determine which one seems like the best fit.
For example, it is important to know the number of clients an agent works with and how much personal time an agent spends with each client.
Step 5: Advance in the Field
Advancing in the field of acting mostly has to do with an actor’s reputation, according to the BLS. Actors seeking better paying, more prominent roles should place heavy emphasis on networking with other actors, producers, and directors and self-marketing. Social media websites and applications can be extremely beneficial tools for actors looking to become more well known and reputable.
Actors should also consider maintaining a personal website where they can upload their resume, reel (video compilation of notable performances), biography, and headshots.
According to the BLS, actors who joined unions received bigger acting roles for higher paying rates. It’s best for an actor to join a union, such as Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG/AFTRA), once he or she has a more established career, as member dues can be hefty.