It’s not like I can’t understand why so many of you out there are stressed out basket cases when it comes to acting. It’s challenging. But if you don’t operate from a place of fun, acting is going to feel like forcing a square peg into a round hole; it’s going to hurt and take chunks out of you.
Auditions are not tests that you need to ace. Looking at it that way makes your whole prep and rehearsal like cramming for a test, trying to find the “right” answers, trying to memorize them, and then praying you’ve prepared enough to deliver when it counts. Then, if you don’t book it, you feel as though you failed, didn’t work hard enough, or didn’t do it “right.” Where’s the fun in that?
And it’s likely that’s not even remotely true. Even if every actor came in and killed it, only one can book the job. There can be only one.
I’m a firm believer in that we do what we want to do. If auditioning and acting is a constant source of stress and anxiety, you’re not going to have as much motivation to do it. Eventually, you’ll stop giving it your all because your body doesn’t want to go through the stress of it all. It’ll fight you.
I’m sure many of you under prepare for that very reason: because you hate auditioning. You judge yourself and rip yourself apart. You hate the way you look or sound on camera. You think you’re missing the “right” answer—desperately trying to imagine the way to do the work that’ll book the job. Ah! Why can’t casting just send an instruction manual with the scene telling me what all the “right” ways are to play each beat!
Because that’s not their job. That’s your job: to create these living and breathing characters out of the skeleton outline that is the script. If you add up all the black on the page and all the white, you have a pretty close ratio of what is required of you and what you get to bring to the work.
Remember how much fun it was when we were kids to make up and tell a story? You can create whatever you want. In fact, in rehearsal, sometimes I play the scene in obviously unbookable ways just for the fun of it—just for me and my rehearsal partner to laugh at or be creeped out by or whatever. It’s fun. Someone has created a story world, and now I get to play in it for a while.
There is no “right” way to do any scene, only wonderful ways. The text tells you what is required of you and then you get to fill in the white space with your imagination and skill and creativity. You explore the storytelling to find the way you believe is the most compelling—that you think will make the best contribution to their story, respecting the genre, tone, and writing style of their project.
Then you simply go and present a well-rehearsed, organic, but still prepared performance that encapsulates those choices. If your work was thorough, even if you get a redirect, it’s probably a way you already played with and you simply swap out choices.
In fact, that’s a word that too many actors still don’t really understand, and where almost all of the fun in acting comes from: choices. If you believe that you have no choice and are simply to ace every test, you will not enjoy the professional acting process and will not want to keep doing it.
If, however, you look at each audition as an exciting invitation to show the project’s passionate directors, writers, and producers how you would contribute to their story, that is an inspired and fun way to work.
You train so that you get more skilled at understanding storytelling from an actor’s point of view, learn about all the different mediums and genres of the craft so you know how to adapt your acting to each one, and rehearse being able to deliver your favorite performances on cue, take after take.
That’s not so bad, is it? It just takes time and skill.
Be a professional consistently without the expectation of booking and you will book more than you ever expected.
And for Pete’s sake, enjoy yourself. Life is short. Play. Acting is fun.
- July 2019
- Apr 25, 2018 5 Risks of Acting in Non-Union Commercials Apr 25, 2018
- Aug 17, 2017 How to Take Full Advantage of Your SAG-AFTRA Membership Aug 17, 2017
- May 30, 2017 3 Essentials for Brilliant Work May 30, 2017
- Feb 9, 2017 Stop Apologizing Feb 9, 2017
- Jan 18, 2017 Why Good Slates Matter Jan 18, 2017
- December 2016
- November 2016
- Sep 9, 2016 2 L.A. Session Directors on What Actors Need to Know Sep 9, 2016
- Jun 6, 2016 We’re Not Evolved to Handle Acting Well Jun 6, 2016
- May 31, 2016 3 Ways Stage Training Adversely Affects On-Camera Actors May 31, 2016
- Apr 14, 2016 4 Ways for Working Actors to Deal With Emotional Stress Apr 14, 2016
- Dec 1, 2015 How to Handle Unwanted Romantic Advances From Industry Pros Dec 1, 2015
- Nov 11, 2015 Stop Calling It Rejection Nov 11, 2015
- Oct 7, 2015 5 Universal Mistakes I See Actors Make Oct 7, 2015
- Sep 29, 2015 The Unsung Heroes of Casting: Cori-Anne Greenhouse Sep 29, 2015
- Aug 31, 2015 Why Acting Is and Needs to Be Fun Aug 31, 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 12, 2015 Being a ‘Good’ Actor Isn’t Good Enough May 12, 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- Nov 28, 2014 12 Steps to Consistently Brilliant Performances, Part 3 Nov 28, 2014
- Nov 26, 2014 7 Steps Toward Better Headshots Nov 26, 2014
- Nov 12, 2014 12 Steps to Consistently Brilliant Performances, Part 2 Nov 12, 2014
- Nov 5, 2014 12 Steps to Consistently Brilliant Performances, Part 1 Nov 5, 2014
- Oct 13, 2014 Why Actors Must Take Care of Their Bodies Oct 13, 2014
- Oct 12, 2014 Getting Your ‘Look’ Right, Part 2: Matching Your Essence to Your Marketing Oct 12, 2014
- Oct 12, 2014 Getting Your ‘Look’ Right, Part 1: Identifying Your Essence Oct 12, 2014
- Oct 6, 2014 We Are Each Other’s Greatest Resource Oct 6, 2014
- Sep 29, 2014 An Ode to Actors Everywhere Sep 29, 2014
- Sep 23, 2014 A 4-Step Guide for Success in L.A., Part 2 Sep 23, 2014
- Sep 16, 2014 A 4-Step Guide for Success in L.A., Part 1 Sep 16, 2014
- Sep 9, 2014 The Importance of Training, Part 3: 3 More Things You Shouldn’t Tolerate in Acting Class Sep 9, 2014
- Sep 2, 2014 The Importance of Training, Part 2: 3 Things You Shouldn’t Tolerate in Acting Class Sep 2, 2014
- Aug 25, 2014 The Importance of Training, Part 1: Are You in Class for the Right Reasons? Aug 25, 2014
- Aug 18, 2014 The 6 (Often Thankless) Jobs in Commercial Casting Aug 18, 2014
- Aug 11, 2014 You Are Enough: Why You Need to Just Be Yourself in Commercial Auditions Aug 11, 2014