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Terry Berlandby Casting Director, Terry Berland

What are the similarities and differences of your commercial and theatrical audition reads?

You can make your commercial reads come alive with a feeling of connection by following my teaching approach that a commercial has some of the same elements as a short scene.  A short scene might have ten words or three or four lines.  A strong foundational commercial script usually has about ten lines and has a beginning, middle and end, with transitions.  Without getting into how to dissect the script in this article, we’ll discuss the similarities and differences of your commercial and theatrical audition reads.


You must know how to find what is not obviously given to you.

You must decide who you are, what your life is like before you are saying these words, and what your life is like after you finish this particular scene.

You also must decide where you are.

You must know whom you are speaking to and what your relationship is to that person.  The operative word here is “your.”  Yes, it’s all about YOU.

You must find your beats.  The beats are where you can apply your attitudes and transitions.  Once you find your beats and use them, your performance will be textured.  All your individual nuances and uniqueness will have a place to live.


Commercials have their own special energy, as do certain kinds of sitcoms, theatre, different kinds of drama, and comedy.

Generally speaking, the commercial energy is a notch higher towards sitcom energy.

Chart for Networker

I am generalizing because, of course, not all film performances are close and internal,  and not all sitcoms are high-energy.  You have the Modern Family-type sitcom and the Nickelodeon-type sitcoms.  So there certainly are large variations in each aforementioned reference.

The character in the commercial and the scene you are in stands alone.  It is the entire story, not part of a larger story.

Within 30 seconds the viewer can tell many things about your life, relationships, likes, dislikes, socio-economic status, and what makes the character’s life work or not work.

Commercials are a great showcase for you.  Welcome commercials as part of your career.


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Terry Berland is an award-winning casting director for on-camera, television, voice-over, and hosting. Her casting awards include Clio, The Houston International Film Festival, Art Director’s Club, Addy, and the International Film and Television Festival. Her former casting staff position for Madison Avenue giant BBDO/NY has lent to her deep understanding and involvement in the advertising industry. She is known throughout the country for her talent development and is the co-author of the how-to industry book,”Breaking Into Commercials.”