The Competitive Edge: The One Question You Shouldn’t Be Asking Is “What Do They Want?”

The Competitive Edge: The One Question You Shouldn’t Be Asking Is “What Do They Want?”

Don’t Look For A Cookie Cutter To Shape Your Audition.

The other day I was in the reception area of a project I was casting and one of the actors asked me “what are they looking for”? I cringed inside and answered, they are looking for an actor to bring them “something”.

The one thing you should not be trying to figure out when you are preparing copy both commercially and theatrically is what do they want. 

The person who gets the call back is the person whose performance makes the character come alive. Don’t look for a “cookie cutter” to shape your audition.

Don’t worry; I did help out the inquiring actor. I asked him if he understood his character? Understanding your character and the following other steps listed below will help you figure out your choices to give a good audition.

Embrace that you are in a creative business.
Understand the writer has written the words and the creatives are looking for a personality to make the character and the situation come alive.

Understand The Character
It is very important to understand who your character is. Is your character sympathetic, a looser or a winner, congenial, above-it-all, optimistic, pessimistic, etc.

Know how to find hints given to you in the copy
Commercial copy has many hints in it. Some of these hints are: what is their sell, where are you, what is your attitude, what are your relationships, what are your back stories, what was your life like before this particular moment and what is your life going to be like after this moment?

Take risks
Know the difference between being bigger, rather than smaller, yet know how to work appropriately in the space.

Feeling loose and connected to your gut is a risk in itself. Not holding yourself back, feeling joy and letting go of your inner critical voice are all risks.

Connect
Feeling and acting connected is the key. You will be able to feel connected if you truly know who you are and what your relationships are, all the while giving your situation backstories.

Act with confidence
If you realty feel connected, you will act with confidence. Feeling and acting hesitant keeps you in an uncreative, limited zone.

Approach Commercial Copy as a short scene
For those of you who also act in film and television, have you noticed that everything I am suggesting are the same elements it takes to execute a good theatrical scene? Yes, commercials are a short scene.

Walk Out Of the Audition Space Feeling Good
Appreciate that you created a character and took chances. Feeling good will give you energy to have a great day, stay positive and attract opportunities.

It is a thrill for me to guide and teach you to be the best that you can be. You are unique. For your next audition preparation, don’t open that drawer and look for a cookie cutter. Have fun creating and know you will be great.


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Terry Berland is an award-winning casting director for on-camera, television, voiceover, and hosting. Her casting awards include Clio, The Houston International Film Festival, Art Director’s Club, Addy, and the International Film and Television Festival. Her former casting staff position for Madison Avenue giant BBDO/NY has contributed to her deep understanding and involvement in the advertising industry. She is known throughout the country for her talent development, and is the co-author of the how-to industry book,”Breaking Into Commercials.”

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