Need a guide for talent auditions? I’ve written articles on various types of auditions for talent, and there are similarities for all talent auditions no matter the talent category. This is the reasoning behind writing “Ultimate Guide to Talent Auditions”. I want to give an overall guide to artists for talent auditions. I have also noticed that there are artists performing in multiple talent categories, and sometimes a specific role calls for such a renaissance artist. A musical, for example, might call for a single person to be an actor, singer and perhaps dancer. I want to mention that the following advice is in no particular order of importance or sequence.
1. When going on a talent audition, you always want to make a good first impression. How is this done? Actually, it’s pretty obvious. What are the first things that a person looks at when meeting you? Your face (head), clothes and body. That means that you should always wear the proper attire. Be well dressed, or if clothing is otherwise indicated, wear a costume, uniform or specified attire. Make sure your clothes are neat, matching, and appropriate for the job interview that is your talent audition. Your hair should be combed, brushed, styled–whatever it is that you would do on a date with a person you really like, do it here. If you wouldn’t do your hair for a date, well, you should start. Groom yourself. I think you know what that means so I won’t go into that anymore. I can’t even believe I have to say this next part, but I’ve heard of some auditioning talent walking in from an “all-nighter”. You must be clean! That means showered, and dressed with clean clothes. Now, when choosing your clothes, even if it’s a costume of sorts, choose something that accents your more favorable features…flatter yourself! However, be mindful to stay away from excess, including large jewelry and tons of makeup, or whatever else is overdoing it. When I say accent your features, be classy about it. You don’t want your clothing and accessories to out shine your performance. When your talent audition is over, you want the casting director to remember you, not your huge clock chain necklace and matching platinum bracelet. Remember, you’re doing this to show respect to the casting director and yourself.
2. You’re auditioning for a job with your talent, which means you have to perform your talent with some level of refined skill. Just like you don’t want to dress too flamboyantly and come off as an overcompensating amateur, you also don’t want to have an ostentatious performance, unless the situation calls for it. That means, don’t come off as an immature drama queen or karaoke lounge singer that banks on vibrato to wow the audience instead of actual talent. Obtaining the talent quality to get the part is another article topic all together. You’ll need plenty of preparation, training–the works. Just know that you have to be prepared and professional in both appearance and performance.
3. This is something you will have to remind yourself of over and over. Do not get discouraged. You will not get every part. You will not get most of the parts you audition for, and you might not see any work for long periods of time. Even if you’re the best actor, singer, dancer, etc., if you don’t have the look they want, you’re not getting the part. Point is, don’t take it personally, it really is just business. Take this time to get a thicker skin, and learn from each experience.
4. Always try to get an early audition. The auditioners are only human. When you get tired, don’t you get a little cranky and unreasonable? Well, imagine being tired and seeing hundreds of the same talent acts over and over. The fresher the minds are of the auditioners, the more they will remember and appreciate your performance. They’ll be focused on you, instead of looking at the clock and daydreaming about life after work, which is what this audition is for them.
5. Always have your portfolio with you. Yes, of course for auditions…duh, but in the car, in your briefcase, or wherever you can fit it. You never know whom you’ll meet and where you’ll meet them. What should your portfolio include? Well, that will vary slightly for each type of talent audition. However, they will all include some basic items. You should always have a one-page resume summarizing your experience, accomplishments, acknowledgments and contact information, as well as some headshots and full body shots. Have your contact information written on the back of your photographs as a backup in case they get separated from the rest of your portfolio. Your portfolio doesn’t have to be presented in a gold covered booklet, but make it look professional. For more information on headshots, you can read “4 Tips for Great Actor Headshots” on Talent Trove.
6. The trademark quality of a true professional in any talent field is confidence. Now to be clear, do not be arrogant or obnoxious. That is not confidence. You can be confident and humble at the same time. Your confidence should derive from your skill level. You should truly believe that you belong at this audition, because your talent has been practiced to the best of your ability. Confidence will also come from familiarity and comfort. You want to seem calm on the surface and in your performance. Not to the point where you look disinterested in performing, but not sweating bullets from sheer nervousness. Your talent performance should appear seamless, fluid and smooth. You need to be comfortable with and aware of your level of performance. To help rid yourself of any anxiety and build up your confidence, you must practice both your talent and the process of auditioning. That means you should go on auditions as a means of practicing the auditions themselves, especially if you’re not interested in the part. Don’t wait for a talent audition you really want and use it as practice. Use the talent auditions you don’t want to become familiar with what to expect from auditions and what auditions will expect from you.
7. Notice the underlying theme of this article so far, practice. Getting to the point where you can audition for your talent and land the job takes work, a lot of work with no guaranteed payoff. It’s the kind of thing a coach says to players the first day of tryouts to weed out anyone with doubt, but it’s the truth. To be happy, you have to be passionate with your chosen career. If you are truly driven by your passion, it should spill over into your performance. True in any art, your performance piece should convey the emotion you are feeling so that observers experience that same sentiment. Each word, note or motion should give progressive insight into the mood of the subject. Don’t be afraid of letting the auditioner see your fiery passion, but do so through a refined performance, not through wild emotion.
8. Preparation doesn’t end with your training. It would be a shame to practice all year and then go into the talent audition cold. When athletes have a game, they don’t just get to the stadium and start playing. They stretch, warm up and get loose. Well guess what? So should you. Get yourself in the mindset of your performance, whether that’s a character or just “in the zone”. Don’t break your concentration or allow personal emotions to interfere with your performance. You’re at the audition, not the character, so your character shouldn’t be nervous. To help do this, warm up your mind, body and voice. Specific exercises and stretches are something you’ll have to research, but make sure you do it. Do it while waiting in line to audition, even if it means getting there early enough to do so. It will dramatically improve your performance at talent auditions. To make this part even easier on yourself, build it into your normal routine. If you warm-up when you practice, it will be a routine that allows your body to slip into a comfort zone via familiar actions, making it easier to ready yourself to perform. Those silly things that athletes do that seem like superstitions, well to some extent they are, but they are also actions that are familiar to the mind and body which remind one’s self that it’s time for business.
9. This next part is very important. If you’ve ever watched a movie, TV or sport and you see a superstar with a disrespectful attitude, what usually happens? The superstar or the team loses, even if they had all the talent. Why? No chemistry and cohesion between teammates. The person that wins is someone that is liked by others. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you treat everyone with disrespect during your audition, including others that are auditioning, you will not get the job. Be professional, courteous and respectful towards auditioners and competitors. You don’t have to accept everyone you meet, but you should make an effort to be tolerant of everyone. On most projects you will be hired to perform, you will be part of a team. Your teammates will include the directors, performers, and staff. You must be a team player. Basically, you have to be someone others can work with or no one will want to work with you…and they won’t!
10. Being professional means that you are disciplined in your art. This carries over all the way to the talent audition. If you are supposed to perform a certain task, whether it is a choreographed routine or script, know it and perform it. Do not deviate. There’s no starting over, and if you’re required to perform something specific, there’s no making it up as you go along. You’ll just look unprepared and auditioners will probably take offense to it.
11. On the other hand, sometimes auditioners give you some creative leeway during a talent audition. If you are given the chance to show your range and creativity as a performer, take full advantage of it. The most important thing is to be unique with your talent. Not “freakish” unique, but “memorable” unique. Remember, it’s all about choice. The selection of the material you will perform is almost as important as how you will perform it. Try to pick something fresh, something they haven’t seen before, or at least not as often. If you forget a line, keep going. You can make it up as you go and try to get back on track later in the performance, but do not stop. Now, in reference to the previous sentence, you still need to know your stuff. Don’t bank on not having to know what you’re doing. All I’m saying is that if you have the chance to choose your own script or song, there’s a chance the auditioners might not know the entire thing by heart and you could slip a few wrong words by them without notice.
12. This next one stems from confidence, but is a different way to show your maturity as an artist. You must be decisive. When asked a question, don’t reply with, “I don’t care”, “Whatever”, “Doesn’t matter” or “What do you prefer”. That’s garbage and not the answer they want to hear. They’re not talking to you. They’re testing you. You should know exactly what you want, and that’s what they want to hear. Make them feel confident in you by showing confidence in yourself. They want to know in what direction you will take this performance. The answer to their question will show your character, your discipline, and your strength as a performer. Do not show immaturity and a faltering personality by acting like you don’t care. If you think you’re being flexible to their preference, that’s not the case either. They want to know your preference. It’s YOUR audition!
13. I don’t want to say this is the easy part, but this is what you should know best. Okay, you came all this way. You practiced and refined your skill, behavior and look. You did your warm-ups just before the talent audition. Now it’s time to show your skill. Make sure you don’t cut yourself short. Show them your talent. You get to do this for a living! To most people this is just a dream, but somehow you made it this far. You’ve pushed yourself to get to this level and to get this opportunity. You love doing it and it’s fun to do. A little nervousness will keep you on our toes, but there’s nothing to get too nervous about so go out there and show them what you’ve got.
14. Okay, last part. This is the easiest part, and so many people get it wrong. Keep your dignity. Don’t taint your performance with some sob story. Be prideful and hold onto any chance of getting the part by saying thanks and leaving immediately after the performance. Obviously, if they want to speak to you by all means stay. However, most auditioners will have a long day ahead of them, and when you’re done it will be the next person’s turn to audition their talent. Do not linger, complain or make excuses about your performance. Don’t make excuses as to why things went wrong, why you were late, or anything else that your frantic mind will think of after your talent audition.