8 Ways To Survive The Dreaded Waiting Room

By Marci Liroff
You’ve prepared. You’ve rehearsed. You’ve worked with your coach and picked out the perfect outfit to wear on your audition. You’ve even arrived slightly early and found “Doris Day” parking right in front of the casting office. You’re all charged up and ready to go and you turn the corner to find 10 people sitting in the waiting room for the audition. Aargh!
I know exactly how this feels because I have to interview/audition like you do for a job sometimes. When I come to an office to meet a producer or director and I’m all pumped up and have to wait awhile, I get totally deflated.  All my energy and enthusiasm gets sucked out of me. Here are a few things you need to do to protect yourself from the elements and stay in your creative zone to do your best work.

1. Be on time and expect to wait.  Many times, the director/producer will show up late and screw up my meticulously scheduled day. Or we get stuck on a time-sensitive phone call about securing financing for the project. You may have to wait a long, long time and we get behind. Sometimes we get WAY behind and you have to wait an hour.  It’s horrible. It’s important that you do what you need to do to keep yourself from losing your energy and it doesn’t affect your attitude – whatever it is that works for you. I recommend using headphones or earbuds because it drowns out what’s going on in the room. Furthermore, if you have your earbuds in, no one will talk to you! It’s like your own form of privacy.
2. Don’t get caught up in the “scene”. There’s always that one guy/gal who’s bragging about all the auditions they’ve been on lately. It can sometimes make you feel “less than” if you’ve only had a few in the last several months. This is where the earphones come in handy! Don’t get sucked into the weird energy that sometimes exists in the waiting room. Concentrate on your scene and your character.
3. Stand up if you feel like it. For me, sitting too long just drains all my energy and I leave it on the couch or chair. Stand in the hallway (don’t go to far so that we have to come hunting you down when it’s your turn though!). After auditioning for years, you’ll know what works for you in terms of preserving and protecting your energy and state of mind.
4. Be careful not to diss the material – you never know who’s in the waiting room. It could be a friend of the writer or the producer’s wife.  You literally never know. 
5. Try as hard as you can NOT to listen to the other actor’s audition thru the door.  It’ll make you rethink your own choices and destroy your own reading. You’ve worked hard on your audition with lots of preparation. Stick to your choices.
6. Be nice to the casting assistant.  They are my eyes and ears.  If you’re rude or abusive to them, believe me I will hear about it and not be so inclined to bring you back. This would seem like common sense, but you’d be so surprised of the stories I’ve heard from my assistants. Believe me when I tell you that they will, one day, run a studio or direct your next film!
7. Check in with the assistant when you arrive and check to see that you have the correct set of sides.  Better to find out BEFORE you come in the audition room and hopefully you’ll have a few extra minutes to get up to speed if the version of the sides has changed. 
8. Bring comfortable shoes. This one’s for the ladies. My office moves around from project to project and we sometimes get offices that are buried deep into the studio lot and parking is miles away. If you’re in high platform heels, your “dogs are gonna be barking” by the time you get to our office and all you’ll be able to concentrate on are your aching feet! Throw a pair of sneakers or flip flops in your car for the walk.
I’d love to hear what other ways you cope with the waiting room in the comments below. It’d be great to share with each other what works for you!
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(you can also read this article on Back Stage Magazine by clicking here)


  1. #2 is crucial!! Getting caught up in all of the gossip and chatter can be a total energy suck!

  2. Hi! I’ve actually read a few articles you’ve written before, just never knew it was you who wrote them before now! Your articles are inspiring and also calming to read. Although some of the articles don’t apply to me yet seeing as I live in Norway and therefore don’t have alot of audition opportunities here.
    I’m moving to London after the summer to pursue an acting career. So far I feel very naive. I put my faith in people easily and trust them when they tell me they want to help. So I was wondering if you could give me any advice on how to get an agent so that I don’t have to rely on promises from menn that I’ve never meet or seen me act.

    Thank you!
    Best Regards
    Emilie Sofie Johannesen

    • Since I work in the U.S., the London scene in terms of getting an agent may be very different. Nonetheless, it’s hard to do when you don’t have a body of work to show. I suggest you get involved in a theatre group and just steep yourself in the acting scene. From there, you will meet plenty of people who can suggest what you can do from there. Use your guts and instincts – it sounds like they’re already sharp Emilie!

  3. Thank you for your advice!
    I’m applying for drama, theatre and preformance studies at Roehampton Uni, London, so I’ll prefect my skills there 🙂 I do know someone who makes short films and things like that in London and he’s also a showreel writer/maker 🙂
    Hoping to get one done then! And I have a contact who’s making a big film in the summer 🙂

    From one fellow pro-animals-rights so another! 🙂

    Emilie Sofie Johannesen

  4. I’m not an actor but I stumbled upon your blog… was very cool to get a peek at the process. It is mind boggling to think about how many people and how much work goes into the shows and movies that I enjoy so much! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Years ago I was complaining to the wonderful Mary Pat
    Gleason about this infamous audition scene. She gave great advice: “Walk in and say to yourself, this is my ministry! What can I do to help?”
    Ever since then I would do that and it created such a peaceful feeling inside. Often, there would really be nothing to do, sometimes it was a small thing (I once helped a struggling assistant change the Arrowhead water bottle) sometimes more profound. But always a great opportunity.

    • Wow Richard that’s brilliant (I’m gonna steal that Mary Pat!) Makes perfect sense to me and I’ve been saying that a lot lately. Come in and make yourself of service. It’ll make a definite energy shift.

  6. Anonymous says

    Couldn’t agree more! Excellent post, Marci!

  7. This is so helpful. I wrote a similar article for models and general commercial castings. People think it is easy, turn up and you get the part. But there is so much more to it, and most of it is psychological.

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