by Casting Director, Laurie Records
A multi part series for the not-so-established actor, hoping to improve their career.
Commercial actors are generally a fun bunch. Casting Directors don’t get into casting (or don’t stay in casting for long) if they don’t enjoy actors. It is normal to expect a relatively harmonious experience between actors and casting when attending a commercial audition. For the most part, I would like to believe that is the case. But, of course we are all human and it is inevitable that you, the actor, may not always be at your best when walking into an audition. Anything could happen from the moment you wake up until you walk in the door of your audition to put you in a less than agreeable mood. (Of course, the same should be said for the casting team, but this article is for you!) Ideally, you would be able to take a few deep breaths and shake your circumstances until the audition process is over. Isn’t that ideal! But let’s face it, it isn’t reasonable to expect you can achieve that every single time… and imagine the casting office is having a far from perfect day, which only aggravates you more. Sometimes it’s all you can do not to take everyone else down with you. It is then, when it is most important to adhere to the following:
Commercial actors should never be a ringleader of negativity in the lobby of a commercial audition.
When you are in a bad mood, and the casting session you are attending is not the smoothest you have seen for a long shot… a recipe for disaster is in the making. On a rough day in the casting office, the staff can be stressed and not their most patient or lovely selves. If you are having a bad day for a multitude of reasons, your frustration will be heightened as well. If you are unable to keep yourself in check, you could at least make sure you don’t take all the actors around you down your negative road. It is tempting to complain to the actors sitting around you… after all… misery does love company. It’s tempting to have that conversation just loud enough that the whole room of actors as well as the casting staff hears you making your point. (Why do we do that, anyway? But we sure do!) Talking about how poorly the session is going and complaining about the wait isn’t going to endear you to the casting office (not to mention your fellow actors). Trust me. They know it isn’t going well. Everyone does! Don’t bring other actors into it. The last thing you want is to be the ringleader of negativity. Do what you need to do. Call your agent and let them know you have been waiting excessively… sign out on the exhibit E to collect your overtime… do whatever it is you feel you need to do to remedy or vindicate. But you don’t need to convince everyone else who will listen to you to do the same. You don’t want to harass the casting office and if you put yourself in their shoes, I am sure you will understand how it could feel that way.
A slightly different scenario: Imagine you have been stuck in traffic after a morning argument with your significant other and took a phone call from your tax consultant only to find out you owe money to the IRS on your taxes this year. (Humor me, you catch my drift.) You called your agent to let them know you were running late so they could notify the casting office. When you arrive, you are told you cannot be seen because casting has moved on to a new spot. The day just isn’t going your way, and you thought you had covered your bases. Tempting as it absolutely is to make a grand scene in a busy lobby full of actors, I encourage you to make a different choice. Again I say, do what you need to do. Explain to the lobby assistant one more time the situation, in a reasonable speaking voice. Call your agent to see what they can do. Communication breakdowns happen… and the office can usually get to the bottom of it. Just don’t involve a lobby full of actors in a rant. The saying is true: You will always attract more bees with honey. Consider leaning towards a sweet response instead of poisoning the room with your vinegar. One upset actor is difficult enough for a casting assistant to handle, sometimes. A whole lobby that you just wrangled together in revolt is impossible.
The good news is, when you have overstepped a boundary on a bad day (as we all have) there is always room to apologize in whatever way you see fit. A small token of remorse for making a scene or spreading some negativity to others can easily be erased with an apology, a card, or a… sandwich. (An easy way to win someone over is through their stomach! That’s an easy one!) Usually that is all it takes to set the universe right with no hard feelings between casting and yourself!
Laurie Records, Casting Director