Backstage Expert Clay Banks answers a question about how to win over Casting Directors in an audition.
Q: Aside from the obvious (talent, knowing your lines, looking the part), is there anything you can recommend actors do in an audition to impress casting directors? Sometimes I feel like I nail it and fit the bill but never hear back, and I’m starting to think it’s more than just “there are a lot of actors out there.” —@ProfessorMcGonagall, Backstage Community Forum
Ah, the proverbial line: “I nailed it!” What does it actually mean? That, my friend, opens up a huge can of something or another.
There’s really no way for me to answer this question without knowing your work or what it is you’re actually doing in the casting office. So, let me at least attempt to cool off some of that all-too-common frustration with this suggestion: Read up on what an audition actually is (Backstage has an arsenal of articles on the subject). Being a Backstage Expert and the Advanced Master Class Auditioning Coach for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, I’ve spent hours, days, months, and years teaching actors of all levels these insights.
Here are a few takeaways:
You’re not in there to get it right. You’re in there to show them what your understanding is of what’s right.
You’re not in there to get the job. You’re in there to win the entire room for the bigger picture.
You’re not the thermometer. You’re the thermostat.
An audition is an opportunity to perform, to act, to do what you do — not to please.
Auditioning, like anything else anyone wants to master, needs to be practiced under the guidance of a professional who knows what’s going on. Just like an athlete in training for the big game or event, practice with a coach so much that you no longer can screw it up. There’s simply no substitute for experience.
*This question was originally asked and answered on the Backstage Community Forum.
Clay Banks is a former Fortune 500 business and life empowerment coach. After a successful eighteen-year acting career, he founded Clay Banks Productions & Studio International (CBSI) where he’s the head coach and offers ongoing on-camera acting classes. Clay is also a recurring Master Coach at SAG-AFTRA Headquarters as well as a regular guest Master Class Auditioning Coach with the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Hollywood. Come audit a class!