5 Things to Remember when You Hit the Real World

This summer, I went back to my roots in a way. I went back to the summer camp I had attended in 2011, while I was preparing for college auditions. US Performing Arts runs a camp at UCLA and I was there for a full month when I was a camper, learning from some of the best teachers and actors in the country.

This year I returned as a mentor and had the chance to watch dozens of young people go through the same thing I had. Their enthusiasm and their joy in their craft was a welcome reminder and through them, I also received some reminders that were much needed as I prepare to officially move to New York City. Here are some tips I plan to take with me as I prepare to enter The Real World.

1. Believe in Yourself

Confidence is key. Fake it if you have to, but be confident! As the marvelous Kelli O’Hara said in an interview with The Interval after her Tony Nomination for The King and I, “…if you act brave, you can seem brave, and if you do it enough you can talk yourself into believing you’re brave.” It’s sound advice.

Be confident when you’re standing in the block-long non-eq line hoping to be seen at an Equity call. Be confident as you turn the door handle and walk into the room. And also be confident when you’re sitting at home and singing to yourself in your room. Believe in yourself at all times, because let’s face it: you are the only person in this business who is obligated to believe in you, but if you believe in you enough, then others might just join in for the amazing ride.

2. You Are Not Anybody Else

I’ll admit, when you’re standing in that long line and listening to other people boast about how many shows they’ve done and how high they can belt, it can be slightly intimidating. But you have to remember that you are not anybody else and you’re not even a tiny bit like anybody else. Sure, we all have “types” into which we may or may not fit neatly. But every single person is an individual. Showing that unique part of you in the audition room is what is going to set you apart more than any high note you hit.

Some of the best advice I received as a camper and was reminded of this summer was from Broadway great Karen Morrow, whose motto to all her campers is, “Be a person. Be a person.” Bring what makes you unique to the character and you’ll relate to the character in a new way that will catch attention.

3. You Are Human (and so is everyone else)

If you mess up in an audition, don’t beat yourself up. Dream role or not, it was just one audition. There are hundreds of others every week. And sometimes, when you mess up, you do your best work. At the times when we lose control and are fully in the moment, we show a piece of ourselves that we didn’t necessarily plan to share. And that can be exciting.

Also remember that other people around you are human and like to be treated as such. Director, choreographer, and dancer Tom Pardoe teaches this lesson quickly during camp. He has campers enter his dance call and stands there holding the door for them as they enter. Inevitably, not a single nervous teen will thank him for holding the door. He sends them back out and explains what they missed. Simply being polite can make a huge difference in the audition room. Treat every person with respect and soon it will catch on or come back around to help you.

4. Make Time For Yourself

Life can get busy and it can definitely get in the way. But it’s important to remember that you can’t put your best foot forward in an audition if you haven’t kept your instrument in good condition. Taking care of yourself is part of the job. It’s why we go to the gym, eat healthy, and stretch our muscles after dance classes. But your mental state is just as important as your physical state, so don’t forget to get some alone time when you need it. Go get a massage or a pedicure. Sit in the park for an hour and just observe nature. Be totally unreachable by phone. Do whatever makes you feel relaxed and don’t feel guilty about it.

5. Make Time For Your Craft

Also, don’t forget to take the time to keep honing your craft. Whether you have a BFA or you’ve only taken a few acting classes, you have tools to use to make your material the best it can be. Don’t get so caught up in going to auditions that you stop remembering why you’re going to them in the first place. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard people brag that they’ve just pulled out material the very morning of the audition and that they’re going to wing it. Some of that is (hopefully) just bragging for the sake of intimidation. And sure, there are going to be auditions where you suddenly need to perform brand new material. But honestly, you’re going to have a couple of go-to monologues and songs that you pull out for your weekly set of auditions. Make those the very best they can be for the point you’re at in your training. Otherwise, why bother?

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