277236988_d9a4dca962Photo credit: Kanonn

By Marci Liroff

You’ve got an extremely emotional scene to do. You arrive early to your audition so you can get settled and get in your “zone”.

In the waiting room you overhear the casting assistant talking to CAA about sending a script to Mr. Famous Actor for your role. You can actually hear the actors auditioning in the other room and they’re getting a great reaction. You’re starting to question all your choices. “Eek! I wasn’t gonna do that!”

You shove your earbuds even further into your ears hoping you can drown out all these distractions that will be undoubtedly be your undoing. “I’m good. I’m in my zone. I can do this!” you repeat over and over. You’re calling up your character’s emotional past to grab onto the emotions you’ll need for the upcoming scene.

You’re ushered into the casting office and are greeted by a peppy and excited assistant OR a group of people that barely register that you’re in the room to audition. Then they want to chat. “How’s it going?/What did you think of the script?/Do you have any questions?” In the background you can hear the distinct sound of your heart beating so loudly that you can barely hear them asking you these inane questions. Then you realize, no, it’s not your heartbeat it’s the distinct sound of a drill because they’re putting on a new roof on the office while you’re auditioning.

Are we having fun yet? No, we’re not. How can an actor give a great audition against all these odds that seem to be set up as an obstacle course to make them fail? Protect yourself. Yes, YOU have to protect yourself against all these outside elements. Concentration is key but asking, or rather telling them what you need is also crucial. This is what I call “controlling the room”.  If you have a traumatic scene to do and you’re all geared up to connect to the character’s pain emotionally, then you come into an office and have to chat first – protect yourself. You can say, “I’d love to jump into the scene first then we can chat after.” It’s all about the way you ask/tell. If you’re polite and gracious you can get away with murder in this setting – as long as you’re not a diva about it.  Remember, we want you to do well. We want to help you. It’s ok to ask a specific question about the scene, character, screenplay beforehand but make sure that you can use the answer in a very specific way to inform the way you’ll play the upcoming scene.

If you get lost in the first few moments of the scene, stop and say, “I’m going to start over” and do just that – start over. Don’t ask for permission. You need not make a big deal about it. Don’t apologize and don’t have a meltdown. Remember, you didn’t do anything horrible – but if you flip out and say, “I’m so sorry, can I please start over? Damn I always do that!”, then you give me pause and I’m now worried how you’ll be on set if this happens. It’s how you handle these little speed bumps that shows us what a pro you are.

Remember, this is your time. This is your audition. Tell us what you need.

I’d love to hear about how you protect yourself in auditions and I’m sure it would help our community as well. Leave a comment and share this blog with your friends.

Glad you’re here!





  1. I’m weird so I just stare at a spot on the waiting room wall and sing a song in my head (which usually makes me laugh to myself). If that doesn’t work I just remind myself for the next 30 secs-2 minutes the people in the room are bound by the rules of civility and basically HAVE TO watch me perform. That gives me a crazy shot of confidence. I love the sentence you have here “This is your audition”.

  2. Excellent insight, per usual.

  3. Daniel Rojo says

    Be confident folks. Do your homework regarding the scene, and then let it go. I always tell my actors: “Expect everything, expect nothing” meaning, there could be a casting assistant or associate in the room, (and not the casting director), there could be one producer in the room or there could be 20 people in the room, they could tell your reps that they are putting you on tape but when you get to the audition, their camera is broken. None of this matters if you “expect everything, expect nothing”. What you control is trying to be alive in the room. Be real like a documentary. I tell my actors, that hopefully one of the lines that you are reading starts with a question, like for example: “Are you okay”? Because if you deliver this line correctly, the casting person will think that you are really asking a question and not reading the text… If you’re real and truthful and (hate to use acting phrases) but “In the moment”, trust me, you win and if you can do the whole scene with the same honesty as your first line: “Are you okay?” You win. So if you don’t want the little stuff to throw you off in the room remember: “Expect everything, expect nothing”.

  4. Samba schutte says

    Great blog Marci, thank you for reminding us to protect ourselves!
    I protect myself by staying in the zone of knowing that I am unique. No matter how many actors who look like me are auditioning, none of them have my personality or are exactly like me. Every actor has their own unique flavor and it is my job to do justice to my flavor and show the casting director how they can use me. For instance ‘if you want me to be a lawyer, I can do that. But if you want a lawyer who has a smile with which he can get away with anything, I’m here.’ Staying in that zone relaxes me as I stop comparing, and gives me power to be myself fully in the room.

  5. Hi Marci – great read! I protect myself in many ways, really, depending on the ‘temperature’ of the room or waiting area. I’ve got the ear buds in and the script in front of me, and occasionally, I will take a walk to anywhere – in the hall, to a restroom, anywhere I can get a moment alone (even alone-ish) to center. And, as you say here and as Bryan Cranston said in that great little video that every actor shared: I like to remember that this is MY time to BE this role and to enjoy each audition as a time I get to act!!

  6. Dear Ms Marci.
    One thing …I am 70 look 55 and been away from the BIZZ for about 22years. [due to many complications].
    I as well as other actors my age feel we can absolutely do the job for the casting director as well as the Prodn. co.
    i have one problem..I need a cane to walk …and…not that far. But, I would love to have a one on one and read for you.

    How can we make this happen??
    Best wishes: Phil K
    phil kako recently posted…Welcome to my new website

  7. I have other avenues of interest, and if I have absolutely nothing else going on acting-wise (another audition, working on a current project I’ve been cast in, etc…) I give myself the gift of indulging that other interest immediately after the audition. This mostly comes in the form of going to a coffee shop or diner, and reading a book that deals with my other interest (one that I’m either caught up in at the moment, or starting one that I’ve been looking forward to.) But sometimes it will involve maybe grabbing my headphones and watching a documentary on it, or listening to a speaker via a podcast or recorded seminar on my iPad. I really look forward to that time. In fact, when I get the call for an audition, outside of getting excited over the opportunity, I sincerely also get excited about what it is I’ll do afterwards. And it has always worked. I get so absorbed in whatever it is I choose to do that I practically forget that I had audition in the first place. Of course, there is a kind of psychological release attached to it because of the time (whether it be overnight, or several days) spent preparing for the audition is now over, and whatever it is I choose to do after is representative of that.
    Vince recently posted…As A Man Thinks In His Heart So Is He

  8. I always move away from anyone who might want to engage me when I am preparing. I find my own space (psychic and physical) and as you advise, when I enter the room, I usually say let’s give it a go and we’ll talk later. Works for me.

  9. Confidence is key, no matter what else is going on. Be assured of yourself and your choices. In those times where I can hear other actors through the door, I smile because I know my choices are in line with my thoughts of the character and the script. If the casting director sees it differently, they’ll ask for another take.

  10. Yes! When one succeeds through the distractions or inconveniences, though, they definitely take note and it’ll work in your favor (long term, if not short term). This current project I booked required an emotional scene which I got through only to have the camera operator say I had to do it again because space ran out on the chip! Maybe a test to see how I could laugh, joke and then get right back into character! So I did it, have grown as an artist, and the director mentioned he could tell I was trained.

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