4 Great Ways for Actors to Overcome Audition Fears

As actors, our lives are consistently filled with standing in front of people and proving to them why we are the right person for the job. Auditioning is the true job of an actor. Without auditioning there would be no way for us to get work, meet other actors and industry professionals and showcase our talents off the stage.

Auditioning, however, can be stressful. We’re taught by professionals and teachers that we need to love auditioning. It’s a chance for actors to perform and do the thing they love most for an audience. That doesn’t mean that auditioning isn’t nerve-wracking. Actors go into audition rooms with tons of weight on their shoulders. I personally have walked into those rooms with hundreds of thoughts running through my head, from worrying about missing a line, booking the job or having fun in the room. With so much going on before we even enter, it can be hard to concentrate on what you need to do because you’re so nervous. As a fledgling actor, I have learned a few ways to overcome audition nerves and enter the room with my mind on what I need to do. These are my favorite audition tips.

Auditions for the MTA's Music Under New York program in 2012. (Photo: MTA, via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0)

Auditions for the MTA’s Music Under New York program in 2012. (Photo: MTA, via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0)

1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Nothing puts a nervous mind at ease like preparation. Before you enter the room, know your materials backward and forward. As an actor, you need to know who you are portraying in the audition, what your objective in the scene is and how you plan on succeeding in your objective. All of these things take time to figure out. If you’re auditioning with a monologue, make sure you read the play and know your character’s full arc. If you are using sides or doing a cold read, look through the entire scene and gain an understanding of the character and what it is they want. Going into a room and knowing everything you need to know will calm some of your nerves and help you establish yourself as a professional in the room.

2. Take an “Auditioning” Class

One of the things that helped me so much at the University of Missouri was my Musical Theatre Performance class. Before this class I would always be nervous to enter an audition room and sing for a panel. My knees would shake and I would miss notes because I felt too vulnerable. These kinds of nerves can be a problem when you are a musical theatre actor and you have to sing at every audition. I signed up for Musical Theatre Performance my sophomore year and it was the best class decision I ever made. I had to stand in front of people and sing every day in class. I wasn’t nervous anymore because the class essentially beat the nerves out of me. I learned how to stand confidently in front of people and be vulnerable. Ever since this class, I haven’t had problems entering an audition space to sing. I learned how to enter a room and how to present myself without fear.

3. Take some time for yourself

Everyone has that one song that makes them want to kick ass whenever they listen to it. Bring your iPod to the audition space and when you’re waiting for your turn, listen to your “pump up” jam. If you don’t want to bring your iPod into the space, then listen to the song on your way to the audition. If you want a quieter alternative, you can always step out of the room and take some time for mental and physical preparation. Do breathing exercises or vocal warm-ups and take some time to center yourself. When you have a clear head and a body that is ready to take on whatever it can, you will feel more relaxed and alert.

4. “Ground” Yourself

I can’t take credit for this tip because I learned it from an actor that presented a movement workshop at my university. He suggested that when you are waiting for your turn to enter the audition room, you should take some time to physically plant yourself into the ground. Stomping your feet into the floor will make you feel grounded and help to get some blood flow through your legs. Just don’t stomp your feet right outside the door of the audition room because some people might take that the wrong way.

Auditioning is always going to be part of an actor’s life. It’s not something that you will escape from anytime soon. Embrace auditioning and learn to overcome your fears and you will be able to enter a room with confidence. Always remember that auditioning isn’t a negative experience but a positive one. I’ll end this post with a quote from Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) on auditioning and the audition process:

You should always bear in mind when you’re walking into an audition room that the writer and the director, they have a problem. They have a problem that they need to be solved.  They don’t know who’s going to play this role. You want to be the solution to this problem. That’s what you’re aiming for, that’s what they’re aiming for. Don’t walk into a room thinking that you’re going to hit a wall of negativity straight away. Everyone in the room wants you to be the answer.

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