I walked into an audition last month to read for a supporting role in a feature film.
I was 3 pages in to my 4 page audition when the director stopped me and asked the casting director to give me the sides for a different role, the lead.
They handed me 15 pages of new sides and told me to take my time in the waiting room with the material, while they continued on with their casting session.
Initially I was sent the sides and the script. Some actors might have just jumped to working on the sides, but I made the time to read the entire script, since I knew it would give me valuable clues about how my character fit into the full story as well as the tone of the film. While reading it, I fell in love with the lead character, but thought they probably had offers out on that role.
Lesson: Read all the material that is provided and prepare like a pro. Because I had read the entire script, I knew exactly who the lead character was and understood how all of the material they handed me on the spot fit into the story line.
2) ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED
They told me to “take my time” with the new material, but they were also wrapping up their entire casting session within a half hour, so I knew I didn’t have more than 15-20 minutes to prepare.
The other funny thing is that I now enlarge all of my scripts (welcome to your 40’s) and the sides they handed me were tiny.
What was I to do? I knew I needed to speak up and ask for what I needed.
So I asked the office manager if they had a copy machine. And I stood there enlarging every one of my 15 pages. (True story!)
The insane thing is that sometimes I would press the wrong button and it would print giant legal sized paper. Other times it would return to the default setting and print the same tiny print.
I was starting to have all kinds of extra printed papers piling up. It was like an episode of “I Love Lucy” in that moment (a la the chocolate factory conveyer belt).
Each time I printed a new page, I read through and highlighted my lines, knowing that this is what I needed to do to prepare like a pro. (Or a pro, over 40).
Lesson: I was able to go in and see my sides easily and bring the character to life in a 15 page cold read.. Had I not asked to enlarge my sides, I wouldn’t have been as confident in grabbing the words and lifting them off the page.
3) TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
When you’re handed 15 pages of new material and even told to “take your time,” no one is expecting you to be off-book.
If anything, they are saying, “Hey, we see something in you that matches what we are looking for in this character.”
That alone should help you to know that you already have everything you need within you to bring the role to life.
Then you can simply trust your natural instincts, bring your years (for me, it’s decades) of acting experience to the work and go do what you do.
Lesson: Since I didn’t have time to over-rehearse or over-think, I trusted my instincts, let go + had fun. And ultimately I know that is what helped me to book the job.
I hope my story helps you to prepare like a pro, ask for what you need and trust your instincts in your next audition.
Leave a comment below and let me know which tip you’re going to add to your audition toolbox.
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Love + Gratitude,