What other people think of me is none of my business. – the beloved Wayne Dyer
QUESTION: I’m never really confident walking into an audition because I really have no idea what the casting director is looking for, so I think I try too hard because I am not booking or getting callbacks.
ACTORS: If you don’t know who’s walking in the room, the casting director will definitely not know.
Everyone knows the motto of this biz: “Fake it ’til you make it!” This can be applied to most situations in life where you gotta pump yourself up and tap into your own inner Sasha Fierce! Accepting we’ll be told “no” way more than “yes” is important to grasp when you enter this star-studded game. So grow some thick skin and an even bigger pair of balls, because you’ll need both. In the meantime, I’m going to prep you with ammo to hit the casting side hard with the strongest and healthiest version of you, from heart to head.
1) A bit of pressure is great for motivation. However, a ton of pressure can leak into self-sabotage. We have control over a number of choices, what we eat to fuel ourselves, the amount of preparation, being in the right mindset, and rocking that self-confidence. But when we don’t get the job, the gig, or even just the audition, it’s utterly important to deal with the disappointment in a healthy way. Accept that rejection is part of being an entertainer and entrepreneur—and know you aren’t the only person who wasn’t picked. A thousand others didn’t even get the opportunity to audition, and hundreds did audition and were turned away also! Don’t make assumptions as to why they rejected you—maybe your beautiful long hair reminded someone of a jerk ex or you were just too damn good looking to stand across from the already-cast lead.
Do you find yourself shrugging your shoulders as you head off to your commercial audition? Do you hope to find out what’s going on once you get there, with little to go on beforehand? Sometimes precious little information is given to the actor before their arrival at the audition—sometimes being the key word. Often times, I believe actors are uninformed because they have neglected to read the given information carefully, if at all. Other times, there are important clues that may not be so obvious, but are extremely helpful when preparing for a commercial audition. When you get five minutes in the room, you don’t want to spend that time finding out what you should already know.
Commercial actors should never ignore the clues given before an audition.
Everyone knows what it feels like to be frustrated and angry, but not everyone knows how to handle those powerful feelings. Contrary to belief, not all “bad” feelings are bad for you. Most people are afraid of their anger because it is connected to the fear of losing control or being disliked. Yet it is anger that can be your greatest protector, enabling you to speak out when you are not being treated well. It can help people back off when they have crossed over the boundaries you have set. Releasing anger helps you regain control. The inability to manage powerful emotions hurts your relationship to yourself and to others. It also interferes with your effectiveness at work, as an actor.
Comedy is big. This isn’t a new thing. It always has been, hasn’t it? We have a long history of wanting to laugh, apparently. There are many options open to you as a comedy-seeker when you live in LA. Pretty much any day of the week, you can catch an 8 or 10PM (even on a school night) stand-up show in multiple locations in the city. You have improv shows in abundance, again, every night of the week. And now storytelling shows like The Moth or Mortified have gained in popularity in the City of Angels as well, which more often than not at least lean comedic. How do you weed through them all? You got me. I say hop around town and enjoy yourself while supporting live performance. But if you need a nudge in a certain direction, I’ve got a recommendation for you.
For staying power, play in the moment.
Whether it’s the weather, or the uncertain state of the economy, or the endless grind of politics, things have been a little grim lately, a little serious. And while the tendency during hard times is to bear down and get serious along with them, I am starting to believe that the answer, while wholly counterintuitive, is to ease up—to play.
People—and I include among “people” everyone from audiences to casting directors to colleagues to fans (present and future)—are starved for levity and passion. Those can be hard to muster in the face of grim times and prospects, but as artists, it’s our job to lead the way. We have to be the change we want to see in the world, to get all Gandhi-fuzzy on you; we have to put aside that life is hard and times are tough, and get back to the spirit that brought us here: play. But how do we, the artists, get ourselves there when the getting is hard? How do we keep ourselves fresh and alive, and, if you want to get down to it, marketable?
Casting director Lisa Pantone joined us for our March 2017 seminar, where she shared a lot of great information with us. Let’s review some of the things she had to say.
1. Be Present During Auditions
One of the biggest mistakes actors make is rushing through an audition. They fly through the copy, just trying to get through it and get out of the room. You were called in for a reason. Be present. Be connected to the material. Experience the reality of the scene and allow yourself to be in the moment.
You’ve heard it, likely felt it, and probably had some panic about it: commercial budgets are shrinking, in general, and that can feel like very bad news. And honestly, on plenty of counts it is, or can be. But knowing more regarding lower budgets can benefit you. There is a silver lining and you should know how to find it.
Commercial actors should never be ill-informed regarding the rise of the lower budget commercial.
Let it first be said that lower budget commercials can definitely be SAG. Non-union does not necessarily equal low budget and union does not always equal big bucks. And when I mention the budget, I mean the budget of the entire commercial, not actor pay exclusively. The production of lower budget commercials, in general, are gaining in popularity. So when do I start spreading the good news? Let’s get to it now.
One arrow is enough!
No one is immune to the unpredictability of life. One week you’re riding high from a lucky break, and the following week you can’t seem to do anything right. Stop beating yourself up; not everything is under your control. Don’t get caught in the overthinking trap, trying to make sense out of the senseless—instead, use your energy to move through the pitfalls faster and wiser. Here are a few tips to shift out of a powerless, negative mode and into a positive, productive one.
Become an expert at supporting yourself on the inside.
Don’t wait for others to come to your rescue. Yes, it’s important and necessary to have supportive family and friends during tough times, but you’ve also got to develop the skills to rescue yourself. That means disarming your biggest critic: YOU! The first arrow going in is the undesirable thing that happened to you, such as not booking that job you were counting on in order to pay the rent, or being turned down by an agent or manager.
What do Hamilton and commercials have in common?
“The Room Where It Happens.” Everyone wants to be in the room where it happens, and in the acting world, it’s the call back room—the room with the producers.
[BURR AND COMPANY]
The room where it happened
The room where it happened
The room where it happened
No one really knows how the
Parties get to yesssss
The pieces that are sacrificed in
Ev’ry game of chesssss