When a young performer walks into an audition, the best thing she can do for herself is exude confidence from the start. It can be nerve-wracking being a child actor in a room full of adults and cameras.

Here’s my advice from one small detail: Wear the right shoes.

Your feet ground you in an audition. Young performers often slush about, kick their feet, and wave from side to side. Keeping yourself firmly rooted on the ground is the biggest service you can do for yourself when making a first impression. It signals that you are ready and prepared to do your best work.

Finding your ground starts from finding the right shoes. Pay attention to the shoes you wear because they leave an overall impression on the person for whom you are auditioning. Never wear Uggs or thick wooly boots to an audition—they’re just not graceful. If you’re auditioning for a period piece, I can’t think of anything more inappropriate. The same goes with flip-flops. It’s in the name. They flip and flop around! Kids can be easily distracted, don’t let shoes be the culprit. For younger children especially, I recommend a shoe that is flat, comfortable, and fits your child well. They don’t add height, which can be a deterrent much of the time. Children shouldn’t be in high heels or platform shoes. Think age appropriate. Shoes should never be distracting. Instead, they should complement your character choice and make you, as an actor, feel comfortable and confident.

For teens, the same rules apply. Girls like to wear heels, and that may support their character choice, but choose very carefully. I spoke with Kaitlin Hopkins, head of the musical theater program at Texas State University on the subject and here is what she had to say. “I often see young women who wear very high heels and deprive themselves of two important opportunities. First, to be grounded and not teeter on top of stilettos that prevent them from anchoring their breathe. They also inhibit movement which can then come across as stiff and stilted. And second, it takes away the opportunity for us to imagine them as different characters. It is harder for us to imagine them as multiple characters if the actor overdresses and doesn’t seem comfortable and able to move freely.”

When preparing for an audition, actors go through the basics of establishing their objective and creating a context for their character.

When choosing an outfit for an audition, I never recommend going in a costume. However, your appearance should help you connect to your character. When it comes to your attire including shoes, think about the character you are playing and pay attention to how you feel in them.

Keeping your ground in an audition is helpful in so many ways. For young performers, I know you can feel a bit helpless while working in an industry dictated by adults. The auditions you secure, the jobs you book, the rules you follow—adults control them all. As a young performer, you can use your power through your choices. Character choices, costume choices, and your presentation are in your hands. How you wish to enter a room and the impression you leave on those who run this game is up to you. So make your choice and run with it! Remember, it starts with the right shoe.

Master your craft, empower yourself, and enjoy the journey.

This article is reposted here with permission from Backstage.com.