We had acting teacher and kind person extraordinaire Kimberly Jürgen at our September seminar and she had some great advice to give us, tackling auditions more from an acting angle rather than a casting angle. Here now is your top 5 recap!
Your Type Is Your Default State
Think of your type as the state you wake up in, not what you’re layering on after your morning coffee. While we like to think we can control how we’re perceived, the human brain is very powerful. It’s so powerful, it’s reading the tiniest of cues as to your true essence, cues that you don’t even realize you’re giving. So you can put on that sexy vamp outfit or style your hair like a heartless Wall Street brah all you like, but if deep down you’re a big ol’ prudish sweetheart, it’s going to shine through anyway. Save everyone the time and take the button-up sweetheart headshots, so that you’re spending your time wisely. Save the other types for when your career has already been established and you’re trying to distance yourself from Disney or whatever.
Learn the Accents You Could (Ethnically and Ethically) Play
Here’s a bit of different advice: learn an accent of a nationality you could play! Here’s some other advice: if you’re not actually that ethnicity, don’t do that! I once got a call from a casting director for a late night show to see if I could do an East Indian accent, because I have an ethnically ambiguous look. I get it; they were on a time crunch and having trouble finding Indian improvisers. At the time, I was bummed that I couldn’t do it. In retrospect, however, I’m really glad I couldn’t do that accent. I would not be proud of myself for having done that and I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable putting it in a reel. Western, Central, and Eastern European accents? Those I could stand to learn because I have those in my ethnic makeup. But East Indian? Not so much.
And if you don’t want to do an accent that you don’t authentically have? That’s okay too. It’s your decision.
Keep An Audition Diary
Keeping an audition diary is a great way to strengthen your networking skills with casting offices. If you make a note of who brought you in, the name of the client, the camera operator, what the camera operator looked like, and any other little details that seem relevant, you can review it before you go into that office again. Then, instead of just a “Hi, thanks for having me in” when you get there, you can casually throw out a, “Hey, Greg. Nice to see you again. How are your kids liking their new school?” Or whatever. That one assumes you had an in-depth conversation about a man’s family and then sort of implies you’re a weirdo who wants to know more details about his children as if you’re going to go Hand That Rocks the Cradle on him, but you get the idea. If you’ve made an effort to make people more memorable for yourself, you will, in turn, be more memorable to them. And not in the usual desperate, cloying, bit-a-minute kind of way.
Confidence Isn’t Arrogance
True confidence is to rest in the present circumstances as they are, not trying to control what will be. It does not mean you’re a bragging blowhard out in the room, talking about how many awesome auditions you’ve been going on, throwing your energy into people’s faces, and telling everyone to follow your dog on Instagram. Confidence is about self-worth, not self-aggrandizement. But also . . . what’s your dog’s Instagram handle because maybe I’m not actually opposed to that?
Make the Camera A Character
Be it a friend, a boss, a family member – whomever makes sense for the scene. Just make it one person you’ve decided your character knows and not a group. And definitely not a camera. Saying your lines at the camera as a camera robs you of an opportunity to add specificity to your performance, commercial and theatrical auditions alike.