by Casting Director, Laurie Records
…skip an audition.
Ok, many of you are immediately tempted to pass, not read and move on because you make all, err… most… ummm, a majority of your auditions. I officially give any actor who has not missed a commercial audition in the last three years permission to do so. No doubt you’ve all heard the importance of showing up to auditions, but you rarely hear the details… all the gory details of WHY it’s important. Due to the fact (in my experience) that a national network commercial has an approximate 15% no show/cancel, a cable or non-union commercial has a 20-25% no show/cancel, and on any rainy day (or Obama visit) in Los Angeles ANY commercial has a 25% no show rate, you might want to pay attention.
Commercial actors should never miss an audition, ever.
*TRUTH #1: You can’t book a job, if you don’t go to the audition. Yes, yes, yes… I know direct bookings happen. I’ve booked a small handful of actors (in emergency situations) with no audition, over the last five years. But I think we can all agree that isn’t something to bank your commercial career on. If you want to be in a commercial, you have to go to the audition every single time. If you don’t want to be in commercials, focus on your theatrical, voiceover, or hosting career. Whatever it is you value. A half-hearted pursuit at a commercial career is never going to cut it. Success requires research, focus, diligence, evaluation, and showing up every single time. If that’s not the level of pursuit you are interested in, you are wasting time that could be better spent elsewhere.
*TRUTH #2: You can’t get the audition if you aren’t in town. Sometimes dedicated actors feel that as long as they are diligent in booking out, they can leave town at their leisure. You certainly have that option. And, you won’t frustrate too many people (with the possible exception of your agent) as long as you follow protocol. Booked out actors aren’t a part of the no show/cancel percentages. But let’s be honest. There are plenty of actors don’t book out so as not to anger their agent, or out of curiosity of what auditions may come in. Either way, what’s your goal? If it’s to build your career, hone your audition skills and book work as an actor, you have to be in town to do that. Where does your acting career (and more specifically, your commercial career) fall on your list of priorities? There is no right or wrong answer, but you owe it to yourself to be honest.
*TRUTH #3: Attend the audition when you are under the weather/not feeling fantastic. I know, I know… I’m asking for it. Use discretion, of course. When a doctor says you are contagious, cancel. If it’s a struggle to last 5 minutes without running the bathroom, I’m not talking to you. But force yourself to go to the audition when you aren’t 100%. Nerves can leave you feeling queasy, and it’s an easy excuse to cancel. Go anyway. A cold or a headache, a hangover (!), being under inspired or having low energy in general shouldn’t keep you from your audition. I’ve heard about and experienced first hand the increased focus required to get through the audition when under the weather, working to your advantage. It’s entirely possible it will be the time you book. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and go. And avoid touching anyone.
*TRUTH #4: You were picked from 1000’s. It’s a hard sell to say you should attend a commercial audition because it’s not “fair” to the bazillions of actors who would love to have your slot and weren’t selected. Nevertheless, you should know that you were chosen out of the masses, and the casting director wants to see you because they think you can book the job.
TRUTH #5: Casting Networks is only getting more sophisticated, making it easier to track flakey actors. Negative reinforcement isn’t my favorite, but it works for some, so I’ll use it. In years past, it was far easier for an actor to skip their commercial audition, and not get “caught”… meaning, the agent wasn’t the wiser, and the CD probably didn’t notice it, or certainly didn’t make a note of it. Those days are virtually gone. There have been more and more improvements in the online casting revolution, and tracking no shows is a breeze. Don’t be known as an actor who cancels or doesn’t show, because immediately, you are the actor who doesn’t book (see TRUTH #1) the role, and sooner or later, the one with no auditions.
TRUTH #6: You probably didn’t move to Los Angeles (or whatever major market you are reading this column from) to pursue a career in commercials. At the very least, we can all agree, it’s a heck of a day job. Pay the commercial process the respect it deserves, or for Pete’s sake, quit complaining about never booking one. When you are fortunate enough to be getting auditions (which means you, your tools and team must all be in order and working to some degree), commit to giving it equal importance to your theatrical audition. That doesn’t necessarily mean preparation time, but importance. You don’t blow off your theatrical auditions, do you? Even if you are a believer that booking a commercial is a numbers game (an idea with which I firmly disagree), you can’t miss commercial auditions and expect to book one. So, figure it out (whatever it is!) and get there.
Laurie Records, Casting Director