Commercials are funny things. The commercial audition is even funnier. Not to say that I don’t take the process very seriously. I do. And you should, too. But we aren’t curing cancer. Often times (certainly in the last few years) commercial auditions call on your comedy skills, ask you to be silly, improvise, or simply to have barrels of fun. Because if you are having fun, we, the audience, likely are too. However, comedic or not, the commercial audition can be a minefield, occasionally leaving an actor to feel embarrassed or bad about their performance as they leave. Sometimes you should feel that way and other times you shouldn’t . . .
Commercial actors should never feel embarrassed about an audition when they shouldn’t be.
The commercial audition is quick and can be nerve wracking. You need to be “on” immediately and you don’t always get a second chance. Sometimes you leave feeling less than stellar. It’s important to pinpoint the reason you feel that way. Were you unprepared? Did you not learn the copy or bother to read/listen to the scenario? Were you late and rushed due to skewed priorities? Were you rude and impatient with the assistant or with your scene partner? Well, then, you should be embarrassed. There’s no excuse for a wasted opportunity due to bad behavior. So fix it. Remember the bad feeling and use it as inspiration to be better next time. You don’t want to feel that way again, if you can help it. These are all things within your control.
So when should you cut yourself some slack?
When things have changed, for one. Unfortunately this happens on a semi-regular basis. You walk in the door ready to go, as prepared as possible, only to find out things have changed. The script, the scenario, the required skill. Were you just asked to sing? When did that become part of the deal?!? If you aren’t a singer, I say commit; do the best you can and sell it. Then go home with your head held high. When the situation has changed, and it WILL change from time to time, all you can do is the best you can with the best possible attitude. Even if you are a terrible singer and you don’t book the job, you will have “booked the room” as they say, as long as you did your best. The casting director is all too aware that last minute changes are rough. You will earn/keep their respect. Don’t be embarrassed.
You are the only one in the lobby that looks like you. Imagine a room full of beautiful or younger, taller, skinnier, older (you get the idea), whatever! A lobby full of people that you perceive to be “better” than you, or certainly “different” can make you feel insecure or embarrassed. Don’t be. Casting directors have been known to call in some alternate choices that go a bit against type, that they are certain will be fantastic. Just trust that they know what they are doing and wear it as a badge of honor. Let it give you confidence. The only caviat: check your headshots and stats. When your headshots don’t look like you (e.g. make you look younger or more beautiful, or they are just plain old) or if your stats are incorrect (e.g. you’ve gained weight, you are really 3 inches shorter) then the error likely yours. Fix it. Otherwise, no embarrassment.
You gave 100%. When you’ve done your best, I highly encourage you to find a way to leave your audition feeling good. There may be things you need to address; perhaps you let your nerves get the best of you. Taking an audition class could be a solution to dealing with the nerves. If you know you are terrible at copy, and that’s proved true yet again, do something about it. Practice daily! Get a coach! But if you’ve done the best you can, there’s no reason to feel bad or embarrassed. Seek a solution if you are unhappy with your audition on a regular basis, but a bad audition is going to happen from time to time. It’s ok.
Hold yourself accountable and set your standards high. There’s a time to be embarrassed or feel bad when you’ve dropped the ball, but often times you just need to cut yourself a little slack. It takes courage (so much courage) to do what you do. Trust that it’s noticed in the hard-to-deal-with situations that inevitably arise in the commercial casting process.