Originally written for Backstage
Actors need to think about their attitude when it comes to getting cast. As a Casting Director nothing turns me off faster than an actor with a bad attitude. The worst part is some of those who’ve had the worst attitude are phenomenal actors.
During one audition, I had an actress come in to the room with the worst behavior I’ve ever seen. She came in and took over the room, but not in a good way. It was obvious to the director, myself, our reader and even the camera operator she thought she was better than us. During the time, she told us what we were doing wrong, how unprofessional we were, and yelled at our reader for not reading right.
The sad part was, we’d have been open to hearing what she had to say if it had come out in a different way. And what made it worse, she nailed the audition acting wise. I have no doubt we would have hired her for the role if she hadn’t displayed such an unprofessional attitude towards her potential director and producer.
I tell this story not to condemn, but in the hope it will be a cautionary tale to those who struggle to keep their emotions in check.
We have to keep our emotions close to the surface as actors, but we still need to make sure to have a professional and genuine friendliness to any potential job we audition for.
No matter how unprofessional the casting room.
A friend of mine was recently at an audition in New York for a student project. It quickly became apparent those holding the casting call were not acting in a professional manner. My friend could have used this as an easy excuse to turn sour on them, but she remained professional and friendly. In other words, she showed amazing maturity and character.
This is a sure fire way to get noticed in an audition room for all the right reasons. I would rather hire someone with an amazing attitude/maturity who has minimal talent, over someone with a horrible attitude who’s phenomenal.
Especially in independent film. Word spreads faster than wildfire about an actor with a bad attitude. We’re not just looking for a ‘great face’, but someone who will work alongside us. As part of the team. Not just the star.
During the film and acting courses I run, we tell the students the most important thing about filmmaking is ‘teamwork’. For years people thought this only applied to the film students, but it doesn’t. Actors are part of the team too, so be a team player.
Filmmakers already have enough on their plate to organize without having to deal with an actor who’s attitude drains the energy on set. It’s like a poison to set life and if we can avoid, we will.
When you enter an audition room, be friendly and real, but keep the negative outside. We all have bad days but the audition room is the last place we should be venting our frustrations.
Here’s a few practical tools to help if you’ve had a bad day and are about to step into an audition. First of all, find the nearest bathroom and lock yourself in for a minute or two taking deep breaths. While in the stall smile even if you don’t feel like it. If you need help smiling bite a pen or pencil between your teeth — it’ll trick your brain to think you’re smiling. Also, this sounds crazy, but raise your arms above your head. Doing this actually releases a natural chemical concoction to help you calm down. Once you feel the calm, walk confidently into the audition room.
We all have bad days and bad auditions, but I hope this helps give you inspiration for those days when you just don’t feel like it, or are struggling against your attitude.