As you think about transitioning into a professional performance career, you may be seeking out auditions to make that next step! But maybe you’ve never done an audition before– what to expect? How to prepare? We got all the goods from industry expert Jennifer Budd, award winning recording artist and director of Thema Arts Academy, on exactly how to prepare for your very first audition…
Assuming this is not an open casting audition, you have already been selected for an audition based on your headshot, resume, and audition tape. (If you have an agency, you’ve been selected off a roster.) For this reason, your headshot, resume, and audition tape are the means that get you in the door for that audition. If you are serious about the business, I’d invest in your headshot with a reputable photographer who specializes in headshot photography. They will likely have a package that includes a hairstylist and makeup artist, which will be an added expense, but definitely worth it.
But I assume you’re not here to learn about your headshot, resume, or audition tape. (Maybe for another day). I want to instruct you on what to do once you have received your audition call time and how to prepare for it.
TIP #1: BE PROFESSIONAL
Preparation is key because it allows you to adapt easily. Take the time before your audition to memorize your lyrics or finalize your solo – do not wing it (unless it is a cold read or group dance audition). Make sure you follow all the casting directors desires to a T. If they ask for a headshot and resume stapled back to back – make sure you do. If they ask you to dress a certain way – make sure you do. Extra Tip: Remember to put your name and contact information on your resume! Warm up, review your pieces (song, choreography, monologue, etc.), and take a moment to prepare BEFORE you walk into the doors of the waiting area for your audition. Then arrive 15 minutes before your audition time (see tip #4 for more on this). I actually went to an audition 30-minutes before my call time (I desperately had to pee). I had in my mind that I would be able to sit down and breathe, but instead the casting team came to the bathroom and said, “Jennifer Budd? Great. You’ll be next”. The girl before me was running late so I had to mentally prepare for the audition 20 minutes sooner than expected. But I was able to adapt on the fly because I felt prepared before I walked into the doors of the waiting room. And in the end, I got that job.
Aside from preparing your audition material, make sure you are professional throughout the entire casting process. Respond to emails promptly, professionally, to the point, and without fluff. Keep in mind, casting teams often are reading HUNDREDS or more emails. Keep your email kind and to the point. Do not waste their time. In the same way, do not waste their time at the audition. Arrive 15 minutes early. Just follow their lead, smile, and slay your performance.
TIP #2: BE KIND
The moment that you send the first email and/or walk in the doors to the waiting room you are vying for that job. Remember that. The girl you steal the bathroom stall from right before your audition might be the client or casting director. Now this tip should not only apply to when you are auditioning, but apply to your entire life. Be kind. You are encountering fellow humans – be kind to them. Whether you believe karma or not, I can definitely say that being kind to people makes you not feel like trash. So why wouldn’t you want to walk into an audition feeling good about yourself? You really never know, the girl who is the person auditioning before you might share with you another casting opportunity. Or the casting team might put in a good word for you with the casting director because you were nice to them. Just be kind.
TIP #3: BE YOURSELF
Imitation is a great tool for learning and developing new skills as an artist, but leave it at the door for your audition. Just because you can dance like Travis Wall/Allison Holker or you can sing like Adele, doesn’t mean that you should. Casting directors want to see who YOU are as an artist and professional. So if you can sustain a note, without vibrato, showing off your natural tone best – do it. That being said, your vocal/dance/acting coach can help you sift through those decisions before your audition. Aside from the performance element of your audition, the tip of “Being Yourself” is crucial to how you relate to everyone throughout your audition process. In fact, this is the most important tip to live by. Be yourself. You received an audition or callback, meaning you are probably qualified for the job. The audition then, is for them to meet YOU. The casting director and team want to see if they will ENJOY working with you. They will have to spend many hours/days/weeks working with you, so they want to make sure you won’t create drama and maybe you’ll even make them smile or laugh occasionally. Be yourself. Be yourself. Be yourself.
Being yourself also has to do with how you look. Extra Tip: Look natural. Casting directors don’t want to see you with a heavy cat eye. They want to be able to envision what you might look like with the cat eye IF that is what the look they are going for is. In other words, you need to look like a blank canvass that they can paint the look of the part on. So this means that your makeup should be as natural looking as possible and your hairstyle should match your headshot. Extra Extra Tip: Speaking of the headshot, whenever possible, wear the look you wore in the headshot (unless they specifically ask for a specific wardrobe style). In that case, bring the headshot that best suits that look.
TIP # 4: BE PRESENT
Here is a tip from my good friend and phenomenal acting coach, Charles Bryan, which completely changed my audition game: Be present. The 15 minutes that you are waiting before your audition is your time to BREATHE. This is your time to become present if you are not already. The more that you can be present, be yourself, and be kind, the better the audition will go.
So you finished your audition. Now what?
Forget about it. Seriously. Forget about it. You may not ever hear back from the casting team, or if you do, it may not be for another week, month, or some cases, months. So don’t use your energy pining over what might be or what could have been. Instead, keep moving forward. Which leads me to my final tip on preparing for your audition. Prepare to not get the job…
TIP #5: BE RESILIENT
The sooner that you learn that rejection is inevitable, the better. You won’t get every job. In fact, you won’t get every audition. All the ‘best of the best’ have been exactly where you are. The best thing that you can do is to move on, better yourself artistically and personally, and stay humble. You see, in these industries (dance, music, acting), you might not get the job solely based on the fact that you have blue eyes when they were looking for brown. Understand that their decisions may be completely not based on how talented you are, how wonderful of a person you are, or how you slayed your audition. Remember that art is subjective and the casting process even more so. Be resilient and never forget to believe in yourself. Trust the process and enjoy the ride. A daily reminder that I encourage you to live by (and has anchored me): failure isn’t failure, failure is learning.
Xo Jennifer Budd
Want to learn more about auditioning? Looking for performing arts training? Desiring a chance to perform in front of a talent scout?
Check out Thema Arts Academy! They specialize in helping performers transition into the professional world of performance art. For those of you looking to take things pro, this is a great place to start!