Why You Didn’t Get the Role

Photo by Jared Erondu

By Marci Liroff

You had a great audition. You killed it. The casting office “pinned” you (casting called your agent to let them know you’re one of our finalists and to let us know if you get another job offer that conflicts). Your hopes are up. You don’t hear anything for a while. Then you get “unpinned” and you didn’t get the role. You ask yourself, “Why? What did I do wrong? What does the other guy have that I don’t?”

I’m here to tell you not to do that to yourself. Don’t go down the rabbit hole on this issue. I had this very thing happen last week on the film I’m casting. We had a final two and then chose one of the actors. The actor who didn’t get the role had his agent email to ask why? My response was this: “Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason. When putting together a family we have to think of all the moving pieces (the wife, the kids) and the overall vibe for the family. Your guy was great. He did everything right. The actor we chose fit better with our existing family.”

In this business, and in life actually, there are so many elements out of your control.

You don’t look right with our lead, you look too much like the writer’s ex-wife, you’re too tall, too short – you get the picture. The one thing you are in control of is your perspective. You get to choose how you are going to feel about not getting the role. No one can take that from you.

Are you going to kick yourself time and time again after each audition because you didn’t do what you wanted to do? Or are you going to learn from it – specifically learn from what went wrong or what sent you off the rails. Are you going to continue to let that voice inside your head that says “I’m not right for this – I always screw up in comedy – I’m no good” or are you going to master that voice and banish it not only from the room, but your head forever. You have this choice.

If you stop thinking, “I’ve got to get this role,” and make it your mission to walk into every room being über prepared and do what you came there to do, you will succeed.

If you make a subtle shift of your mindset so that your goal isn’t to get the job, but to consistently come into every room, knock it out of the park, and build relationships for the future. You want casting directors to bring you back multiple times on all their projects because we know we can trust you.

Remember that we’ve considered thousands for the role, (check out my article Auditions Can Be a Numbers Game) narrowed it down to auditioning about 30 actors (sometime hundreds depending on the role), and if you were chosen as the final two you’ve already won. I know it may not feel that way, but that’s where your perspective comes in.

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

Warning: I grant permission to share my blog as written with no additions or deletions. Posting my blog is in no way an endorsement of another site unless you obtain my written consent.)

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How To Handle A Physical Audition

Illustration by: Nick Bertozi

By Marci Liroff

In case you didn’t get an email announcing my next Audition Bootcamp classes in Los Angeles, here’s the link. I’d love to work with you.


This week I called upon my Twitter followers to ask for questions for my column.

I like to know what the community needs from me in terms of advice. Here are a couple of questions:

“So many times, I get an audition scene that has so much action in it, or it’s intimate and a kiss is called for. I never know how to play it. What should I do?”

Great question. My coaching clients always ask me the same thing. Sometimes it seems like we pick the most impossible scenes for your audition. Believe me, we’re not doing it to trip you up. We need to see what your character will do in all emotional (and physical) situations. We need to see your range.

Obviously, you can’t get in a brawl on the floor with the casting director (although I know some of you would probably like to!). But there are definitely ways to show that you’re slapping or getting slapped—you can react by pulling your head back and grabbing your cheek in shock. Imagine and create the hot sting of blood rushing toward your cheek. If done well, it’s very believable.

My best advice in this situation is not to ask what we want you to do, but rather ask, “How have you been blocking this scene?”

Remember, we’ve been auditioning this scene for the last several days, if not weeks. We know exactly how it should work in the audition setting. When I was casting “Vampire Academy,” we chose a scene where our lead character was having a fight training session. We needed to see her throw some punches, and when the romantic lead threw her to the floor and they were inches from each other’s faces, we cheated it by having her throw herself against the wall and imagine he was on top of her.

Another question I often get is this: “What’s the worst that can happen when we have a ‘bad’ audition? Never called back? Career over?” First of all, no, your career is certainly not over. But you must ask yourself why you had a bad audition. Trace the steps back to understand what sent you off the tracks. Nerves account for a lot of people blowing an audition. Many get nervous because they’re not thoroughly prepared. If you’re not completely off-book, you won’t be able to execute any of the direction you may receive. If you slugged back a double macchiato before your audition, your body might be careening with caffeine.

We can usually tell when you’re just having a bad day or you weren’t sufficiently prepared. If you come in and stink up the room because you weren’t prepared, it will be a while before I call you back for another audition.

The best thing you can do in this situation is learn from it, make the changes you need to, and then move on. If you hold on to that memory when you come into your next audition, it will overwhelm you with the fear that you’re going to make the same mistake. Learn and move on.

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

Warning: I grant permission to share my blog as written with no additions or deletions. Posting my blog is in no way an endorsement of another site unless you obtain my written consent.)

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By Marci Liroff

I’ve been working in Hollywood one way or another (casting, producing, assistant at a top agency) for the last several decades. As you can imagine, I’ve seen A LOT and have some juicy stories; one more shocking than the next. Most of them I can’t share until I write my book when I’ve long retired from the business because I’d never work again!

A few years ago I was casting a television pilot and looking for a 9 year old boy who uses a wheelchair in real life. It was an essential part of the role as it was based on the son of the lead actor who was starring in this real-life scripted pilot for NBC.

We had seen the few actor boys in Los Angeles who used a wheelchair, and set about doing a nationwide search for actor kids and civilians who would fit the part. Using my Social Media know-how and a press release, we got about 50 self-submitted auditions – pretty amazing considering how shallow that talent pool is. Part of this story ended up in my speech for the #140 Conference about Social Media. My story about casting this role starts about the 5:30 mark into the speech.

Simultaneous to our nationwide open call we started seeing non-actor kids based in Los Angeles who used a wheelchair. One nice looking 10 yr old boy came to audition and we wanted to get to know more about him. I like to talk to the actors coming in to read for me to get a sense of who they are. He talked about being adopted and how if he hadn’t been adopted he’d probably be in jail. We laughed – he wasn’t kidding. He won an acting contest and his parents sold their house in Florida to move out here so he could act. At this point he had already stolen our hearts. Then he did the scene. He was actually kind of good and we started getting really excited. When I’m casting a project and an actor comes in who seems to “get” what we’re doing and grasps the character it’s thrilling! When we’re casting a difficult-to-find role working with non-actors, it’s even more exciting to find someone who can handle all the aspects of the role.

We delicately asked all the kids how handicapable they were, because some could walk a little. That’s when he told us he could walk. This kid then proceeded to get up out of the chair and tell us that his parents rented the chair and he can walk just fine. He had just sat out in our waiting room in a rented wheelchair with other kids who had mobility issues and faked it. I should have seen the red flag when he wheeled himself in in one of those GIANT hospital wheelchairs. All the other kids had those cool lightweight ones so that they could maneuver better.

I was gobsmacked, felt utterly manipulated, and after having just gone through 53 self-submitted auditions from kids across the country dealing with their real issues, I was very upset at his parents. He got up out of the wheelchair and walked out into the waiting room to greet his folks. You can’t imagine the look on everyone’s faces. I took his parents aside and calmly explained how inappropriate this was. Surely this wasn’t the child’s fault – his adults are supposed to watch out for him and teach him honesty and integrity.

Later on, my actress friend ran into the kid and his parents in the parking lot after her audition and started talking to the family. She sent me an email to say how “cool” she thought it was that he took such a risk and good for him. Since then I’ve asked a number of actor friends what they thought about this situation and I’m shocked to say that I get a 50/50 response. Half think it was reprehensible what this kid’s parents did, and half think it was great!

What do you think? Faker or risk taker?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this situation.  It’s always good to share with the community. Leave a comment, share this blog with a friend.

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