Skip to content

Mommy Dearest

August 25, 2011

Last week’s Backstage newspaper was all about auditioning… it’s a great edition of the weekly, full of great advice, so pick up a copy or read it online if you can.

One of the articles, in the Commercial Break section couldn’t have been more relevant to my week—sort of. The article, titled “When Auditioning with Other Actors, Always Remember to Look Out for Number One,” was a great reminder that we can’t be too polite in multiple-actor auditions by taking care of other actors’ needs above ours…we still need to try to book the job ourselves.

I read this article the day after an intense callback where I had to audition with three needy, loud, hyper and non-focused actors. One even had sticky hands. I think another one picked her nose. Oh, yes, and they were all 5 years old.

As a “quirky mom-type” I am grateful to have many, many commercial auditions at the moment. But often, these auditions are with children. Obviously, directors want to make sure that you actually can relate to a kid on the day of the shoot.

Not a problem, I thought, as I work well with kids. I’ve done tons of TYA, interactive storytelling and improv with kids (heck, I was awarded a grant to do improv with kids after all!) So yes, I know how to work with kids to create fun, lively, goofy, creative scenes. And in that work, the goal is always to validate the kids’ creative resources and help them shine with their ideas. As a community-based theatre program, that concept is awesome. But is it so great for me when trying to book a commercial gig? I’m starting to think not.

That callback was great for the three 5-year-olds. The director even told me as I was leaving the room that he really appreciated how I “wrangled” the kids and “made the scene fun,” “getting them all involved.” Sure I made it fun. I pretended we were on a beach, building a sand castle that got so big it collapsed on top of me, at which point the kids continued to bury me. It was funny and silly and we had fun, and I made sure to interact with every kid and accept their ideas and creativity. If I had been playing with my nephews or improvising with kids on stage, it would have been a major success.

But I realized that on camera, I looked: goofy, uncoordinated and maybe even a little deranged. Not exactly the type of “mom” that a major hotel chain wants representing them in national commercials.

It was a huge light bulb moment for me for me, and in the past year of constant auditioning with kids, a lesson I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to learn.

But I wonder, what else can I do? The concept of “take care of yourself first” works when auditioning with adults….but with 5-year-olds?? I’m not sure a self-first attitude would allow for much chemistry or warmth with the kids. What do you think? Are any of you mom-types (or here’s a crazy concept, actual REAL moms–not just actor-moms) who can give some advice on how to play on camera and not look crazy? I would welcome your thoughts….and a few extra wet-wipes if you can spare them. They are always good for sticky hands!

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: