What to do and not do during an audition

A New Approach to Auditions – What to do and not do during an audition


“Well I know you are trying hard, but this the last time you are ever going to have to do that scene and it’s going to be on the screen for the rest of your life.”  Mike Nichols to Dustin Hoffman on the set of “The Graduate”  There’s no complaining or whining in this new approach to auditions.


  1. What has to happen in the first 20 seconds


“Make a strong choice and go with it.  To hell with whether it’s right or wrong.  The audition isn’t about being right or wrong.  It’s about commitment.  Keep faith in your choice and plow right ahead; make a strong choice and keep it strong.   If you have opposites of equal intensity, you’re taking the right kind of risk.”  Michael Shurtleff, casting director


I find the success of the actor in auditioning is in direct ratio to his willingness to give up searching for another character and to use himself.  What we want to see at an audition is the real you reacting to a remarkable situation in a remarkable and unique way.

There’s only one person like you in the entire world.  Trust yourself to use that with truth and imagination.”  M S 



  1. Learn how to break down a scene specifically for an audition. The more specific, the more you own it…goodbye nerves, hello happiness.


Great acting is not self-conscious but a result of seamless transformation into someone else.


  • Who is this person? Character (Where, When, and What)
  • What does he want right now from the other person? Relationship
  • What has just happened? —The Moment Before and Opening Beat
  • Give it the Importance and Urgency you would give it in your own life


Conceiving, Committing and Collaborating


“The key is you have to commit.  And that’s hard because you have to find what it is you are committing to.”  Phillip Seymour Hoffman


“One of the keys to acting is curiosity.  I am curious to the point of being nosy.  All people contain mystery, and when you act, you want to plumb that mystery until everything is known to you.”  Meryl Streep


Sometimes being an actor is like being some kind of detective where you’re on the search for a secret that will unlock the character.”  P S H

This is the art of booking.


  1. Learn how to get out and stay out of your head when you read.


Don’t go into your head.  It’s a mess in there.


Be fueled by your intention and it will drive you through the scene and keep you alive and invested in getting what you want.


Focus on the other person and what’s going on over there.

“Movie acting is primarily listening.  If you’re really engaged, that’s all a movie audience wants to see is you processing what’s happening in your world.”  Richard Gere


  1. Learn how to give an audition that shows them you can play the part.


“What they need from a reading is a full experience of who you are and what you can do.  An actor can achieve in a reading the same free use of himself that he uses in a performance.  It’s all in knowing how to use yourself fully, in employing your imagination, in being will to take risks.

Your job as an actor is to show them who you are and how sensitive you are to the feelings in the role.”  M S


  1. Find out what to do and not do during an audition


What to Do in an Audition


  • Arrive 15-20 minutes early
  • Bring your headshot and resume
  • It’s your reading, take control of the environment
  • Be prepared with performance level work but not so married to your choices that you can’t take adjustments easily
  • Enter the room with confidence and energy
  • It’s good to suggest the character by what you wear
  • You should know the words so that you can play the scene more freely, but it’s fine to hold the script and refer to it occasionally.
  • Stick with your choices, even when you hear another actor inside taking a different route.
  • Be sure you understand the direction given to you before going ahead after receiving an adjustment
  • If you haven’t been told already, find out where they would like you to look–Into the camera, off camera, at the reader, etc.
  • State your name with confidence and say the name of the character you’re reading. Be professional and friendly. Let them see who you are, before you start to read.


What Not to Do in an Audition


  • Don’t talk about how bad traffic was or you couldn’t find your sides. Come in strong and positive and ready to go.
  • Don’t shake hands with the people in the room
  • Don’t touch the casting director or reader during your audition
  • Don’t ask to start again. If you must, just say “I’d like to start again.”
  • Don’t ask a lot of questions before reading, just clarify a point if not certain about something in the script
  • Don’t wait around after the reading, do a great job and leave
  • Don’t look at the casting director when doing a monologue
  • Don’t look sloppy or unprofessional at a reading—shorts and flipflops don’t send the right message
  • Don’t bring in props and don’t mime


Next week we’ll continue with more on The Art of Booking:  A New Approach to Auditions – What to do and not do during an audition.



Lynette McNeill

Any Questions, Call (310) 274-1085

Lynette McNeill - Acting Coach
By Lynette McNeill
Acting Coach & Director

Get Started - Contact Lynette McNeill Button

© 2016 Lynette McNeill Studios