I’ll just come out and say it. A consistent issue I see when actors come in for an audition is that they lack confidence. It’s a little surprising to me, as the actor stereotype can be just the opposite. Actors are self-assured, ready for anything, secure, even cocky, right? Well, no. Rarely, actually. And when you believe, as I do, that a little confidence goes a long way, this is something an actor might want to evaluate for themselves. How’s your confidence?
Commercial actors should never be without confidence when walking into an audition.
How exactly does one increase their own confidence? I have some thoughts.
Luck favors the prepared.
You’ve heard this. Well, preparation cultivates confidence. Easy. When you enter an audition having read the provided information/material, done the research (product, past commercials, director style) in wardrobe, with copy memorized, you are flat out going to be more confident that if you are winging it. This also means you have the advantage over many of your cohorts sitting next to you in the lobby. There’s still a notion out there that commercial auditions are a numbers game, you can show up whenever you want, and you figure it out on the fly. For the record, none of this is true, and when you treat your audition seriously and respect the process, you are leaps ahead of many of those around you. Take that confidence and run with it. When you are prepared, you are more confident.
Gain the skills. Get educated!
The commercial audition is a strange beast. It’s not unusual to be asked to have genuine reactions to a completely make-believe situation, to use silly props or to drive an invisible stick-shift down the street. You are asked to talk straight to the camera (as your invisible friend) all the time. All scenarios are completely strange and many times, have little to do with what you’ll actually be required to do on set. But you have to be great at the odd/awkward audition to book the job… to do an (oftentimes) easier task on set! Want to be more confident in your commercial audition skills? Want to be more at ease with the odd but common requests made in commercial casting sessions? Take a class or two in the art of the commercial audition. You don’t know until you know how the heck to master various types of commercial auditions. A class is usually the quickest way to achieve this goal. Confidence comes from knowing vs. guessing what to do under the many commercial audition scenarios. Gain your confidence in class and take it with you to the room.
Regularly participating in auditions will lead to confidence when auditioning. That’s a no brainer. But what’s to be done when the auditions dry up? Or maybe you’ve never auditioned regularly enough to feel that confidence? Start hoarding commercial copy from anywhere you can get it and put yourself on tape. Have a friend help you or, better yet, wrangle a set up so you can do it on your own and completely at your leisure. When you know, generally, what good auditions look like, putting yourself on tape and watching it back to evaluate can be a great way to keep flexing your commercial audition muscles. If you have a small group of actor pals who can participate with you, all the better. Regular experience/practice brings confidence. There’s no need to feel rusty when attending an audition. You have control over this.
Confidence can certainly come from some fantastic support. A mentor to ask what feels like a stupid or silly question is a gift. A group of knowledgeable and driven actors can be an invaluable resource when you need help here and there. I am a strong advocate for asking questions of the lobby assistant or session director in a commercial audition setting, but it may feel empowering to ask a knowledgeable person the night before. Even if you still have questions, and you will, when attending your commercial audition, you will have covered your bases as much as possible beforehand. It seems like a confidence booster to me.
Booking = confidence.
You all have known (or been one yourself) actors who book a job, and then book job after job after job. They get on a “booking streak”. The booking streak is due to confidence. Period. The difference is walking into the room knowing you can book the job vs. walking into the room hoping you can, or (eek!) knowing you won’t. After you’ve booked a job you know on a very real level, that you can book more. It’s the “I know I can book it” confidence that looks good in the room.
However you gain confidence, get on it! Carry that confidence with you. Make it your goal to walk in the audition room knowing you can book the job.