By Marci Liroff
I want you to re-frame the way you’ve been thinking about meetings and auditions.
I’ve been reading a lot of comments to my articles and blogs using the phrase “the other side of the table” when referring to the Casting Director or the other people you’re auditioning for. 
Stop it! Here’s the new thinking: What if you thought of the whole auditioning process as a collaboration between filmmakers? What if you included yourself in that group? After all, you are one of the filmmakers too. We desperately need you in this process.
When I’m casting my projects, teaching my classes, and coaching actors I wake up and have that Christmas-morning feeling in my stomach—the happy feeling filled with anticipation. I get so excited to work with wonderful actors and filmmakers. 
Websters dictionary defines EXCITEMENT as:
  1. A feeling of great enthusiasm and eagerness.
  2. Something that arouses such a feeling; an exciting incident.
It occurred to me—that is exactly the feeling you should have when you come in to audition. Think about it. As an actor, how often do you actually get to act? Probably not as often as you would like. What if you thought of your audition as an opportunity to show us your stuff? What if you woke up on the day you had an audition and thought, “Yay! I get to act today and show them what I’ve been studying, prepping, and researching. I get to come in and play with the other filmmakers. I get to help them solve their problem. I get to be of service to the project and bring in my own special and very specific piece of the puzzle that they’re tirelessly putting together.”
You’ve got to stop this deadly “me against them” loop that’s going on in your head. Delete the word “gatekeepers” from your brain and anything else that you think is standing in your way. Replace it with this mantra: “I am a filmmaker! I am a collaborator!” We are all working together to bring the project to fruition.
When you’re truly prepared for your audition—you know the character and you’ve prepped and researched properly—you should feel like you can’t wait to get into the audition room. You should be excited to engage as a participant, as one of the filmmakers. After casting for the last century or so, I’ve come to realize that SO much of it is in your head. Once the preparation has been done, it’s all about perspective—and this is the good news. YOU are in control of how you view the audition process. It’s all up to you. 
Now go out there and remember that we’re all in this together.
I’d love to hear how this article made you feel.  It’s always good to share with the community. Leave a comment, share this blog with a friend.

Glad you’re here!  



  1. I love this way of thinking! I’ve been working hard in the past to remember that the casting director is on my side while I’m auditioning, but I’ve never thought of them as a collaborator before. This would totally help me get over my feeling of being lesser-than.

    Thanks for writing such amazing blog posts (and having them out there for free for everyone to read)!

  2. This is what I’ve been doing since 1998, when I had an audition for Andre Ernotte at McCarter (Emily Mann was in the room too) — he acknowledged the choices I made and then asked me to consider adding another facet. It felt like, and was in fact, the first rehearsal (I was cast). Since then, I’ve always treated the audition as the first rehearsal. How you feel about “the room” is everything. I do my homework and bring one specific objective to the first rehearsal (audition): whether it is “be in the room,” or “try something new.” The rest is not in my hands.

  3. Marci- This type of perspective is so helpful! Thank you for sharing! I’m looking forward to trying it next time I’m in the room!

  4. Stephen Salamunovich CSA says

    Couldn’t agree more with this and have been preaching this to actors for years. Beautiful!

  5. I’ve used the phrase “other side of table” to convey a kinship with casting directors, directors, producers, writers etc (e.g. “I’ve been on the other side of the table.”), but I can see how that phrase might be considered adversarial. Because I’ve cast projects, directed projects and written projects in addition to acting in them, I’ve always considered the process a collaboration between many gifted creative individuals, including and especially those involved in casting. I think it does help to walk in another’s shoes, so to speak. But you’re overall point is spot on. We need to approach every opportunity to act with gratitude, excitement and the belief that we are embarking on a journey towards creating fabulous art…together! 🙂

  6. Isabella Sierra Kelly says

    Being only 10 years old, this really helps me understand I am working to be part of a team. Even if I don’t book the role, if i rock it, I might be right for something else they are doing. I have booked several projects this way. I love It!!! We are all just people doing what we love to do.

  7. How did this make me feel?
    It made me feel wonderful.

    “I am a filmmaker! I am a collaborator!”

    thank you thank you thank you.

  8. I look at every audition as an experience – whether it be for modeling, plays, film, television, commercials, etc. I have had good ones and have had bad ones, but learned from each one of them !!! Happy with how much work I have gotten so far and always looking for the next adventure in life, in everything I do. I have been blessed to get some really great jobs in this business for the short time I have been doing this !!! ^ ___ ^

  9. This is a much better way of looking at it. Thank you!

  10. Thank you. I appreciate you feeling inspired to share this.

  11. How does this make me feel? …..Crazy Excited! I love reading your post…thank you for this one:)

  12. Thank you!!! Will DO!!! Shared 😉

  13. I haven’t thought about auditions in this “collaborator” context before, but I do my best to approach them with an open mind. Auditions don’t have to be dreaded. A lot of pre-audition fear is a choice. Many (at some point) have chosen to see auditions as things to be feared, so whenever a new one comes up, they fear it. I’ve been working really hard to see auditions as things that I really enjoy doing, and it has made the process so much more fun. This “collaborator” mindset is a good way to help shed the fear. Thanks for the reminder!

  14. Creative collaboration is my favorite thing. I love this perspective. I know it’s true and I love looking at the audition as my first day on the set. Some days I’m
    better at that than others. I love the reminder and your encouragement. Thank you so much!

  15. This made me feel good, Marci. Thank you. I’ve been auditioning a long time and it still makes me feel good to know that someone is giving me permission to be kinder to myself and offering a softer, easier way when doing it. The appeal to the best in us and the desire to bring that out always makes me feel better. And you are so right: When we allow ourselves to see the audition as though it’s a collaboration between artists who only want to serve the story it’s a wonderful, joyous and freeing thing. And of course I know all those things you offered here in my heart and soul and have, like most who have been doing it a long time, come to learn how to access them…

    Until we walk into that next roomful of fearful, angry, bored, dismissive, preoccupied and simply nasty, awful people again. Those for whom collaboration is the last thing on their mind and really couldn’t care less after the first 30 seconds of sizing us up as wrong for the part if we’re in the room or not. Because we do walk into those rooms. Quite often. And we know we will. We’ve come to expect it and guard against it. And we have to adjust to survive it – because we’re vulnerable or we wouldn’t be as good as we are at what we do – just like we do when we encounter other actors like them on the set after we’ve won the job, when we’re vulnerable and have submitted fully to the conditions and circumstances of the story and are only looking for that collaborative miracle to fulfill it that the best of us – you, me and those we love working with most – came to this business to discover, create and be transformed by, we are slimed, thrown off our game, rocked to our very core. That’s when it hurts and causes us to question the process by which we get work and makes us start battling the damned self-defeating “them vs us” scenario yet again. And defeating it yet again. And that’s the dance: We question and doubt ourselves, the art in ourselves, ourselves in the art, whatever we can find to question and doubt, and we’re forced again to reexamine our willingness to let our guard down completely the next time we go in the room. But we do it because we have to. And it’s a constant roller coaster ride that has nothing, really, to do with the work and everything to do with just getting the work.

    Except when it doesn’t, when, like you said, we “are in the control of the audition process.” How we view it, how it affects us, how completely we serve it and fulfill our responsibility to it, no matter what we’re up against in that room. And it’s beautiful.

    So, thank god for you and those like you, who want to help us remove the obstacles to fulfilling our responsibilities as artists and collaborators, and remove the “tables” between us and give us new ways to see things that often baffle us and keep us from our potential. Those of you who understand how hard it is for all of us who want nothing more than to learn how to collaborate, get out of our own way, and work to offer us positive loving encouragement and advice.

    • It’s pretty damn hard to be an “open vessel” and not take in all the fear/negativity/uncreativity/and general rudeness that you must encounter as an actor. I hope you know it’s THEM, and not meant to be directed at you. Just a lot of unthinking stressed out people who probably shouldn’t be doing this. Unfortunately, they are and we’ve got to find a way to steel ourselves against it and keep on going on. I really appreciate your incredibly thoughtful and raw comments James.

  16. James, I think we are lost brother and sister! I echo your words each day. I’ll add….personally, I can never understand why anyone would be “shaken” by the negative people in the audition rooms. I have never let it affect me. Am I unique? Maybe…I dunno…I’m just a really focused, positive person/actor. It’s a decision. Those that are letting these types of outside interference affect you…you gotta let it go. It’s much easier to decide to be happy and doing the best audition you can vs. getting caught up in the childlike games of those that are NOT there to collaborate for the greater good of the project. Those of us that are, are known, respected and called back to do just that…create the magic (as a team) that inevitably affects our audiences-now and in history. It’s simply amazing what we do and how we affect the world. I absolutely respect and cherish folks like you. I would love to meet you one day. GREAT post and thanks for your eloquence and professionalism. Marci, YOU are a god send, never a doubt about that! So glad I found your blog via Twitter. I’ve always been a fan of the things you have to say. God bless everyone….have a great, POSITIVE day! Norma Jean

    • “It’s much easier to decide to be happy” – good way to live life. I think you may need to be “wired” that way. I know it’s a decision, but sometimes I just can’t get out of my OWN head to make those decisions!
      I’m gonna make an effort though!

  17. Great post, and a truly beautiful response James Morrison. Thank you both.

  18. I cannot agree more! We , as artists, are a part of the process. When I changed my thinking about the process of auditioning, and even meetings in general…everything changed. Everything. The perception of me changed. I ended up being cast in the film “Sideways” because my audition was excellent. I was relaxed and was working with my director Alexander Payne. As you say, I couldn’t wait to get in the room. Great advice Marci. Thank you for sharing. I will pass it on.

    • Thanks so much Virginia – yes you saw in person how everything changed. Perspective is a motherfucker sometimes and it needs to be fed and replenished with new and healthy(er) views continually.

  19. Nice, Marci. I have often used that very advice to other young actors. I always consider an audition a chance to act. I go into it with the idea that I’m offering them a vision that they might or might not have considered. Just before I walk in the room I say silently to myself, “You want to know how this scene/character/moment should be played? I’ll show you how right now.” This little trick empowers me, removes doubt, and gives me the courage to go with my choices instead of giving them what I think they “want”. I give them what I have, not what they want. Having cast a number of projects as a director, I always appreciate it when an actor gives me a bit of themselves instead of namby pamby choices they think I want to see.

  20. Thank you and I also loved “the first rehearsal” comment. When entering a room with good intentions changes everything- even if the other side of the table is not having a good day.

  21. I love this mindset, the idea of a collaboration, the notion that anxiety and/or apprehension can also be “excitement”. It’s really a thought process that can and should be used across all vocations, the job interview is not a me vs. them thing but more of a “collaboration”. Been out of the loop for a month, and happily enjoying a glass of wine whilst catching up on my Marci wisdom!

  22. I’m not an actor, i do not even belong in this space i will just speak like a spectator but as a simple man … Totally agree … And I think that all that you are saying everyone of us should adopt it in his life. At any stage of our lives. And especially when we go to a job interview … believe that every job is a creation … i Work So i Create ….I don’t have to see the man in front of me like an enemy…But as a co-worker.Coworker in success….Sorry for my language…I am Greek…Thank you!

  23. Marci, thank you!

    This is exactly what I love about this industry. There is so much everyone of us can bring to the production. I’ve been talking with actors and non-actors alike about this mindset of subordination and the need to prove something to someone in an interview/meeting/audition. It is such an unbelievable relief to get rid of this attitude and enter the room as an equal looking forward to meeting interesting new people and exchange ideas. We’re meeting people and creating together.

    Even reading your article just now I’m getting excited and can’t wait for the next opportunity to meet/exchange/collaborate and create. It’s luckily just around the corner – with 6 weeks of acting classes in NYC this summer.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Marci!

    Kind regards,
    Jasmin Egner

  24. How wondrous to read this ~ thank you. My first thought was, ‘I always enjoy auditions and have fun, so have never experienced this sense of ‘us and them’.’ And yet, when I think about this Monday’s upcoming audition, I realise how important it is to me and nerves instantly kick in. I’m prepared; I have thoroughly researched; I continue to rehearse my pieces. There is nothing more I can do. They will either love me or think I’m not right for the part – and that is okay.

    Big thanks for the article and all your insightful comments, especially Chuck McMahon’s, to help me realise that I am going to my first rehearsal on Monday for a perfectly timed collaboration! Gx

  25. THANK YOU so much for sharing this most beautiful advice!!! I know when I shifted my thinking to this point of view – everything related to acting shifted – It became joy filled once again (though sometimes I still have to work at this!!!). This – however – was after years of fear/anxiety- the straw that broke the camels back was when after a few producers session auditions – I started making myself sick – literally – getting vertigo out of nowhere and even Bell’s Palsey – you can’t audition when half of your face is frozen! I have relocated to Portland, Oregon where teach and still act and I always tell my students what you so perfectly describe – it’s an opportunity to show your stuff, show your wares if you will and that the casting person is truly on their side and is under a great deal of pressure as well – so it is a collaboration and we are all going for the same goal – so turn the nerves into excitement as you say! I love how you describe it – collaborators! I will share this with them to drive the point again! P.S. I saw a screening of the Sublime and the Beautiful when it came through town – what a profound and moving film. I have a personal experience that is similar to one described in the film which I explained to the director – it was a shattering film but so truthful – thank you for that.

  26. Allan Hamilton Robb says

    Thank you. Just, thank you.


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