I got the notice on Mon morning that I would be going in for a pilot for a series regular. In layman's terms (how I relate everything to my computer tech dad), I had an audition for one of the stars of a show that might actually get to tv.
What did that mean? That I, the Struggling Actress was now auditioning for not only pilots ( MY FIRST!) but also for a starring role?
That I was in over my head, nervous as hell, and because of this, waaaay overacting. Great. Awesome.
Three scenes, nine pages. And it was for the role of a 20 something psychologist smarty pants. The female lead. For a CSI meets The Big Bang Theory hour long drama.
I could SO do this.
But I have NEVER auditioned for anything of this magnitude before. That's a lot of pressure. To be auditioning at that level and not know what the heck to expect. And I really didn't want to fail.
Imagine going to work at a fancy new restaurant and not knowing what the table numbers are or what's on the menu or how to work the dang computer to ring in your food. And you know everyone is going to be mad at you because you're not prepared to do your job and they waited months to get this reservation and there you are ruining their entire night. It felt like that.
I met with Billy, my acting coach because, Hello, pressure! And I needed to be calmed down by someone who's done this. I was so nervous that the character had to be charactery that I was completely off base with who she was. Not only do I talk fast in real life, but when I get nervous, ItalkmoreandmorelikethisandohmygodIwasjustabundleofnervesfromonlyfourhoursofsleepfromthe
I mean, wow, right?
After my first coaching, with the new mantra of "Talk slow, ground it, make it real," I began to feel better. I began to get it. And I began to think more rationally.
I was still nervous though.
The day of the audition, yesterday, I also had a commercial audition and my friend JenNik was there! Yay! I told her about the Biggest Audition of My Life and first, after congratulating me on it, she gave me some great advice: Treat it like it's class work.
The weirdest things calm me down. Treat it like class work. Of course. With class work, there's no pressure. You just try to put everything you've learned from the previous class into the new material and then just let it go and do what you naturally do.
I felt a little better. Still nervous, though.
Billy offered to give me a second coaching before my audition for free to help me go in feeling super prepared. And it was at this one where he said the things that finally killed all the bugs in my tummy.
They want Jennifer Aniston for this role. And they'll get Jennifer Aniston.They want to cast this thing with star names. I think SAG has a rule (don't quote me, though) where you have to audition a specific number of people for any SAG project. You could offer the role out but still have to audition people. You might think that sucks because you're auditioning for a role that technically doesn't even exist, but it's actually great; now the casting director knows who you are and she might not have known you previously. So if they're going to offer this out to a star anyways, why am I fretting? Why am I nervous? It doesn't even matter! I just need to show this casting director what I can do.
I once auditioned for a music video for the love interest of Jason Alexander, who was also directing. The casting director called me up and said, "Jason absolutely loved you so I am putting you on avail. But he really wants Marcia Brady. And he'll probably get her." And they did. This is more of the same and I'm fine with it. It's how the business works. You need backup plans just in case.
And ironically enough, in the waiting room, I heard the receptionist put an offer out to Missy Yager.
The production actually doesn't know what it wants yet. They are auditionig the lead and the character I went out for in two different categories: mid 20s to early 30s and mid 30s to 40s.
I got in there, and we were only doing one scene. BUT it was the scene of our choice. Woo hoo!You'll get in there and only do one scene, and it's the scene you hate.
These are technically known as pre-reads. They're not "real" auditions. They're just making sure you're not an idiot and can actually act. They're doing a million of them. They're auditioning half of LA for this same role Missy Yager could have possibly already said yes to.
But I went in there and I did it. I did it! Italkedwaytoofastofcourse but I left that office feeling pretty good and happy with the feedback: "That was really cute at the end" "Nice work" "Thanks for coming in." And even if those are veiled forms of "This role does not technically exist as of four minutes ago), I now have a series regular pilot audition under my belt.
And JenNik was right: I went in and it was just the casting director and me. No camera. No distractions. It was just like class.
And just like that, it was over. I went home. I felt good. I felt zen. I did okay. I did well. And now I know what it feels like so I can be better prepared for the next time.
Where I will not talk
f a s t.
Life lessons. Gotta love 'em. I can totally see how that hearing Jennifer Anison would get the part would take all of the stress out. It is a game changer. It becomes not about THAT part, but merely about being your personal best. In theory, it should be about that all the time anyway, but it is so easy to let ourselves get distracted and overwhelmed. Not every part is going to be "right." They are not going to like you because you are too SOMETHING that really has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the male lead that they have hired. They are now looking for a look that simply isn't you. You could be the best actress they have seen, but not "look" right with their male lead. BUT they will remember you when their next project comes around AND that is ALL that matters. Because then you will be the FEMALE LEAD that they are casting everyone else around. Makes me want to break into song. Life really should be a musical. I think we should all feel free to break into song at any time, anywhere. Just for fun.ReplyDelete
(in b flat) "Robin! You are so very right!!!! And I agree that we should all SING YOUR PRAISES! Tra la la la la!"ReplyDelete
Great advice. And you are right, the less pressure, the better a performance. There are so many reasons why they could pass on me, so I need to remember to enjoy the job of "professional auditioner" and do that job the very best I can!
That was a wonderful story and well told! I hope you get a chance to audition for the real deal and nail it and get the part. Seems to me that you work really, really hard, and your break should come soon, while you're young and vibrant.ReplyDelete
Yes, CAL, while I'm YOUNG. Wink!ReplyDelete
I talk fast when I get nervous, too, and the worst part is, I don't realise it, so it's hard to catch myself at it.ReplyDelete
I know what you mean about the weirdest stuff calming you down. When I was in my first Equity show, I had to cry through pretty much the whole play and I just couldn't get it. One of my professors offered to help me and she told me "give yourself permission not to" and BINGO. Not a problem from that day on. It was such a weird thing to work for me, but even today, almost two years later, she uses that line on me and I do so much better.
I am laughing so hard at this post; partly because you did a fairly apt description of how fast you actually talk and partly because I'm so damn happy for you. See? What did I tell you. Don't try to book the role; book the casting office.ReplyDelete
You'll be fine, baby. You already are.
The Biggest Audition of Your Life (So far... but there will be many more "biggest auditions of your life" to come) And not meant for Jennifer Aniston or Missy Yager every time, although I do like what your coach said. Puts things in perspective. I like this agent of yours... for real!!ReplyDelete
This is just the beginning of many great things to come!ReplyDelete
Actress Confessions :)
Bravo! Whereas most people out there only brag about their solid wins, you put it all out there on the line -- sharing so many aspects of your journey, offering guidance and encouragement to others even as you find your own way. It is exciting to watch your amazing progress, and I believe that the right doors will be (well-deservedly)opening for you soon!ReplyDelete
Can I just say how much I relate to this? There, I said it. Perhaps it's the curly hair, or some other random similarity. I tend to speed up A LOT. Especially when auditioning. It's become a main focus of mine, slowing down. And when you do It's freakin amazing how calm that makes you. I recently had just a general at WB and pretty much went through what you went though. And the best think you can walk away with is...yup...got that under the belt, just like you said.ReplyDelete
Next time? Bigger and better.