by Catherine Watts
Broadway musical, A Chorus Line perfectly sums up the thoughts and fears that all performing artists have when coming in for an audition: “God, I hope I get it.” After audition performers often think to themselves, “Is there anything I could have done differently to make myself more unique?”
When you have an audition, you aren’t just auditioning for the role for which you were called in. If you stand out, you may be auditioning for every role that the casting director will ever cast.
It’s unfortunate that so much of the arts and entertainment industry is subjective, but there are a few tips that any performing artist can use in order to better stand out during their auditions.
How to Stand Out in An Audition
Show Genuine Interest In The Role You’re Auditioning For:
Like a cover letter can help you stand out when applying to a corporate job, you can and should submit a short note or a cover letter along with your headshot. You should mention a connection with the role you will be auditioning for. You can say something as simple as, “This project sounds like a really fun opportunity and I’d love to be involved.” Although this isn’t guaranteed to get you noticed, casting directors will sometimes take note of the extra time and effort you put forth in order to learn more about the role or the person holding the audition.
Dress For The Job You Want, Not The Job You Have:
When getting dressed for an audition, you should always dress like the character you will be auditioning for. You don’t have to go all out, but if you plan to audition for a role as a stoner, then dressing similar to a stoner is a great way to get noticed. If you plan to audition for a dance part in The Lion King on Broadway, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to dress like the fiercest version of Simba. Attention to those types of details shows that you are the type of performer who truly tries to embody a character.
Connect With The Casting Director On A Personal Level:
Whenever you meet someone who makes a casting decision, be sure to try to connect with them on a personal level, rather than putting them on a pedestal. Try to strike up a quick conversation about something both of you can connect with. It helps if you do some background research on the individuals you will be meeting in order to discover any possible similarities. You need to be aware of how much time this is taking, but it doesn’t take a long-winded conversation with someone in order to connect with them.
Nerves and doubts can get the best of all of us, but even if you feel nervous or insecure about your abilities, try your best to not let it show during your auditions. Remember that your insecurities are all in your head, so you do have the ability to control how you feel before you walk into an audition. When you come in sucking up, scared of, or in awe of the casting director, you do yourself a huge disservice. Never go into the audition seeking validation. No one wants to work with someone who gives away their power, is needy, or unsure of themselves. The best remedy for fear and nervousness is with thorough preparation.
Prepare For The Audition:
Before, after, and during an audition, you should be completely prepared. Extensive preparation for an audition will help you to show your confidence and make it that much easier to land the role.
If you are a singer, for example, this would include, learning where to crescendo or decrescendo, learning the piece in a different key, or recording yourself while practicing and listening to the playback. When I was still an opera singer, I would often research how to pronounce words from the arias I performed in different languages. Take it from me when I say that no one wants to hear an Italian opera song sung by someone with a deep Southern twang.
For actors, I’m talking everything from analyzing the script, analyzing the character, and researching the casting director. Actors should also make a list of all the similarities and differences between yourself and the character you are auditioning for. This will help you to define what strengths you can bring to the role and what challenges you will have to work on.
If you are a dancer that is auditioning for a dance troupe, you should watch some of the group’s past performances and try to mimic how they dance.
Even more generally, you should prepare for how you plan to introduce yourself, where you will be parking when you plan to arrive at the audition, and what you plan to wear. Come in warmed up, physically and vocally, and always have extra copies of your headshot and résumé on hand.