Casting director Laurie Records, longtime friend of Casting Networks, joined us for our April seminar. Besides having the coolest hair I’ve seen this side of Crystal Gale (shoutout to my fellow ’80s babies), she also had a lot of great advice for actors.
1. You will book the job for who you are.
You can’t cover up or alter your true essence. That’s what comes across to everyone you meet and you will book something because of that. Commercials are less about a character you’re playing than they are about who you are. That sentence is rubbish, structurally speaking, but true nonetheless.
2. Go to your audition.
Are 3,000 people being submitted to every role? Yes. But you’re crazy if you think casting directors have enough time to see even 10% of those people. In reality, it’s more like 1 or 2%. So, hey, if you got an audition, you’re in the 1%! You’re living the American Dream and, just like in real life, you’re the enemy of the 99%! With that in mind, why would you squander that when you’ve already beat the odds? You’re only in competition with, like, 30-60 other people at that point. Go for that brass ring and show up to your audition. Otherwise, you’re just making things that much easier for everyone else. Conversely, someone else probably isn’t gonna show up, so your odds just got even better.
3. Brag on your resume, be humble in person.
Your resume is the place to really strut your stuff. Show off your credits, sing out your training, work that Other Experience section for all it’s worth. You worked hard for those things so that you could stand out, so be proud and put them on display. And then when you get in the lobby and in the room for your audition, put a lid on it. On your resume, you are your features. In a room, you’re a human being. Don’t bring any ego with you. If you do, no one is going to want to work with you. This isn’t The Bachelorette and you’re not Chad. (Can we talk about Chad? I need to talk about Chad. Specifically, how much therapy Chad needs.)
4. Don’t list brands under commercial credits.
Remember how we said to brag in your resume? Yeah, here’s where you forget part of that. Do not list the brand names of commercials you’ve done. Even if you’re staying organized with your current conflicts, seeing a brand name is going to scare casting directors, directors, producers, and clients. They can’t be sure if that spot is still running, so they’ll write you off altogether. You can use the magic phrases “List of commercials available on request” or “List of conflicts available on request,” which is awesome because you can say that even if you’ve never done a commercial before, because you can respond with “No current conflicts!” Or, if you really want to prove you have commercial credits, just list the director and production company for each spot. No one needs to know what you were selling. How likely do you think it is that Coke will bring you in if they see a Pepsi credit on your resume? Yeah. not likely.
5. Listen to direction.
The camera operators and casting directors are telling you what to do in the audition for a reason. That seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people get flustered and forget things. Commercial auditions often consist of a series of steps you have to execute, such as, “When I wave my hand, you’re going to look up from your laptop, smile at me, and then raise your coffee mug.” They need you to do exactly that, in exactly that order. So swallow your nerves, buckle down, and listen. The fewer takes you make them do, the better.