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Fact Vs Myth: Audition Edition

August 2, 2013

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Having acted professionally for 12 years now- I have heard my fair share of audition myths. It can be hard to depict which is fact and which is fiction sometimes. So, I’m going to do my best to debunk some of the rumors I have heard along my journey. Since, there are two sides to every story, I would love to hear the opinions of all the lovely Ensemble members and readers of this blog.

Fact or Myth #1:
(This one relates more to the ladies-)
You shouldn’t wear nail polish to an audition- it will distract the auditors.

My Ruling:
Up until recently, I used to ALWAYS make sure I removed my nail polish or wore a very light or clear polish for an audition. Then recently I was called into a last-minute audition, and I forgot to remove my nail polish. On my way to the audition, I stopped at a convenience store and picked up some travel nail polish remover pads. I put them in my purse with every intention of removing my nail polish in the bathroom before my audition. Well, to my surprise- when I arrived at the audition, I was informed that the only restroom available was located INSIDE the audition room. I was not about to awkwardly walk through the audition room just to remove my nail polish in the restroom, so I decided to skip. My eyes began wandering the waiting room as I waited for my name to be called. I began to notice that all but one of the women waiting were wearing nail polish- and dark nail polish! After this experience, I’m not sure I’m going to continue auditioning with nail polish, but it has definitely made me question the myth…. Is it fact or myth? You decide.

Fact or Myth #2:
You should never bring props to an audition.

My Ruling:
Fact. I definitely agree with this one. When auditioning, you want the auditors to focus on YOU, not the prop you brought. They want to see your abilities as an actor. If you REALLY feel the need to have a prop in a scene- I mean, it just won’t work without that prop- just pantomime it.

Fact or Myth #3:
You should always wear the same outfit you wore at the audition to the callback(s).

My Ruling:
I’m going to say fact on this one. I have always stuck by this thought, and it makes sense. Casting personnel see so many people in one session. Sometimes, the only thing they will remember about you (other than the fact that they liked you and would like to see you again) is that you were wearing a red sweater. Why make things more confusing by coming to the callback in something completely different! I tend to be very superstitious about my audition outfit. I have to recreate it to a T when I go to the callback! Do you?

Fact or Myth #4:
You should never touch a casting associate (such as shaking their hand) unless they make the first move.

My Ruling:
I agree with this one. Fact. Again, casting directors see a lot of actors in one day. Can you imagine how many germs they would encounter if they shook hands with everyone? Unless they make a move to do so, don’t touch the casting personnel.

Fact or Myth #5:
It doesn’t matter if they only ask for 30 bars of music, sing the whole song. They won’t notice, and it will show them you’re enthusiastic.

My Ruling:
No. Myth. If they specify 30 bars, sing 30 bars. The casting directors only have a certain amount of time to audition everyone, and they have a lot of people to get through. Not listening to instruction isn’t going to up your chances of getting a callback. Be respectful of your fellow actors and the auditors’ time.

Fact or Myth #6:
Never look directly at the casting director when you are performing your piece. Look over their shoulder or at the wall behind them.

My Ruling:
I have heard some casting directors like when an actor looks at them during their audition piece, but generally speaking- I think it’s best not to. Most casting directors (or people in general) feel uncomfortable being directly shouted at or spoken to about an uncomfortable topic.

Fact or Myth #7:
It’s important to send “Thank You” notes after an audition.

My Ruling:
I send “Thank You” notes. I’m not sure how much it really does, but to me- it’s a nice gesture. It shows you’re professional, and it helps the casting directors remember you in a good way.

Fact or Myth #8:
You should always come to an audition looking like your headshot.

My Ruling:
Fact. The first impression a casting director gets of you is from your headshot. That is the first visual they take in. Most likely, they called you in for an audition because of your headshot. You definitely want to look like your headshot. Keep your headshots up-to-date. If you’re wearing makeup or your hair in a certain way- appear that way at auditions as well.

Fact or Myth #9:
Even if a casting director tells you just to be “familiar” with the script for an audition- you should always memorize it.

My Ruling:
I have always tried to follow this thought, however after doing some reading recently- I’ve also realized that some people think it will take away from your performance if you memorize the sides. I personally don’t feel I can do my best if I’m stuck to the page. Plus, something else to consider is that if you are auditioning for a SAG project, the casting director may intentionally leave out the word “memorize” in his/her interactions. That’s because SAG requires actors to be paid for “memorizing” material for an audition! They must be paid half a session fee- which is hundreds of dollars, depending on the project! So of course, the casting personnel may be a bit more creative with their wording. I just feel it’s always best to memorize the sides when possible.

And just a random Actor Fact or Myth for fun-

Fact or Myth #10:
Saying…. Macbeth… in a theatre?

My Ruling:
Don’t do it. Just…. don’t.

I would love to hear your opinion! Do you feel differently about any of these Fact/Myths?

The Growing Artist Signature

3 Comments leave one →
  1. The College Theatre Dork permalink
    August 2, 2013 10:38 am

    I’m agreeing with all of these! Especially the Scottish Play – just don’t!

    As far as nail-polish goes…I have 2 factors that decide for me: Is the show contemporary? Does it match my headshot? (as in, I can’t pull off bright orange nail polish but it would be reasonable to see me with grey). I did red nails for a Chicago audition but scrubbed them before auditioning for Anne Frank.

    • The Growing Artist permalink
      August 18, 2013 11:59 pm

      That sounds like a good way to go about it- prep your nails as part of your complete audition look depending on the project. Thanks for commenting! It definitely makes me think differently about painting my nails for an audition.

  2. Margaret permalink
    May 18, 2015 12:34 am

    Okay… Seriously, what about when the audition is actually *for* Macbeth? No joke, I’ve got auditions next week and I have always wondered the rule on this one!

    I’ve never heard the nail polish one though I’ve always just automatically gone for something neutral, like clear, nude or pale pink. Nothing brighter. Seems just common sense to me.

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