From “Soul Surfer” to “That’s So Raven,” Joey Paul Jensen has some impressive credits under her name. With that experience comes a treasure trove of valuable insights. Jensen took the time to sit down with Casting Networks to tackle some of the key questions on the minds of many actors.
What are some ways an actor can stand out in a positive way in the audition?
“You can be incredibly focused on the purpose of being there and the purpose of the character, unwavering in your decision about the beginning, middle and end of that experience. And when you have that kind of laser beam focus, it generates a certain energy. That energy has an impact, which creates a feeling. That feeling will then spark a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from the casting director. Ninety percent of the job of an actor, in creating a career, is to be an ‘auditioner.’
“Another big thing is putting enough time and thought into the look of the character. We may say to ‘dress to suggest,’ but that can be a very loose term. I understand that actors want to avoid feeling like they’re wearing a costume, but they can get a little too lax in what they wear. Every little thing about this industry is an image. The casting process is about compiling a montage of images to make up an entire cast, so it’s to your benefit to create an image that’s so befitting the role that it becomes difficult to deny that you’re not it.”
What are some audition mistakes an actor should avoid?
“The biggest mistake you can make is allowing room for doubt. Doubt leads to insecurity, and insecurity will lead to mistakes. Small mistakes, such as forgetting to print your sides or leaving your belongings in the room after auditioning, are really just manifestations of the root issue of doubt. The antidote is to connect to your identity as a storyteller. When you’re auditioning, you’re a part of a bigger story being told. As long as you can make strong decisions about your piece of that story, then you can feel complete and whole. When you feel that way, you’ll trust yourself and be grounded, and those are tools that performing artists require to do their best work.”
Is there an audition story you can share that you think would be encouraging to actors?
“I was casting the role of Louis for ‘Even Stevens,’ and I thought Shia LaBeouf was perfect for the part from the beginning. But when you’re casting for Disney, you’re still going to have to see a couple thousand people. Three months and 2,000 boys later, they picked him, and he shot the pilot. After receiving the feedback from a focus group that participants weren’t sold on the lead actors, Disney decided to recast the leads and had me see 600 more boys.
“After seeing all of them, I still thought Shia LaBeouf was right for the part, but Disney said he’d have to audition again. I had never heard of that happening; he’d already won the part and shot the pilot. His agent was reluctant about it, but I told her, ‘I’m the one person who has now seen 2,600 boys audition for the part. I can wholeheartedly tell you there is nobody else that’s better than him for this role.’ So he came back in to audition, but right before I took him into the room, he disappeared. I found him hiding between two filing cabinets, saying, ‘I can’t do this. It’s never going to happen. I can’t go through this anxiety anymore.’ I told him that it was his part, and he could do it. So he went in. They never knew he had a moment of crisis, and after all that, he got the part. The series ran for three years, and from there, his career took off.”
Keeping Jensen’s advice in mind, you can go into your next audition with laser-beam focus and dressed in such a way that casting can’t help but imagine you in the role. You’ll have connected to your identity as a storyteller, expelling any doubt. And from there, and with the right amount of patience and perseverance through the casting process, you could find yourself cast in a role that becomes a springboard for your career.