Much has been written for adults on what not to say in the audition room or ask of an industry professional, but what about for parents and kids? There are a few things that children tend to ask before thinking. After a while, this drives a casting director, an agent, manager, or acting teacher nuts! Most reveal that a young performer has not prepared well enough, and expects an easy answer. Some simply show uncertainty that creates doubt about him or her as an actor.
1. “How do I say this line?” This is by far the most frustrating question to hear from an actor. There are times when a coach may need to feed a beginner a line reading, but a professional doesn’t ask. Being professional means examining the character and lines oneself. Go through the process of thinking it through and ask:
What does the character want as result of saying this line?
Why does my character say that?
How does my character feel at the moment?
2. “How do you pronounce this word?” Use this guideline: Can I find this answer on my own though other sources? If the answer is yes, then do your own legwork. Be professional and take the initiative whenever you can. This is basic preparation. A casting director doesn’t mind questions, but they don’t like thoughtless ones.
3. “Should I sit or stand?” If a casting director wants you to do something, he or she will ask you. Meanwhile, this is your performance. You have control of the room, so act like it. Do what you have rehearsed or need to do. Show confidence. Only confident actors get hired!
4. “Can I start again?” Most people get flustered when they make a mistake during a reading. That’s natural! However, you are an actor and this is an audition. Project confidence at all times! If you flub or forget a line and want to start again…just start again. The casting director or industry rep you are reading for will appreciate that you resume control of the situation without any further delay, and you maintain a sense of authority over your performance.
5. “How did I do?” Tempting as it is, never ask a casting director for a review of your (or your child’s) performance. Feedback is an important learning tool, but know whom to ask. It is the job of your agent or manager to obtain feedback for you, and they will provide the answers when they can.
6. “Who else is auditioning for this role?” Putting your rep or coach in the position of sharing confidential information about other clients isn’t fair, and it isn’t productive. Parents often try to pave the way for their children, looking for new insights. You think it may help to know more about the others who will be auditioning for this project. Honestly, it won’t. It’s natural to be curious about the competition, but don’t be distracted by what other people are doing. Stay focused on what you and your child can influence. The only things you can control are what you and your child are doing, so give that your full attention. Keep the focus on yourself, be prepared, and show up with confidence!