Seth Michael May is co-founder (along with Bryan Radtke) of NYC’s Acting on Impulse Coaching Services. His clients include Reiko Aylesworth (Lost and 24), Charlie Hofheimer, (House, Canterbury’s Law), and Kristina Klebe (Halloween). He is regularly referred clients by WME, Innovative, Titan Talent and The Gersh Agency in New York.
Audition Anxiety, like everything else in life, is a choice.
At least that’s how I like to view it – I like to pretend that everything in my life, including my emotions, are my sole “response-ability”.
Now, there are two basic Point of Views (P.O.Vs), or “lenses” through which you can choose to perceive this event called “Auditioning for them”.
The first POV is fear-based and therefore will NECESSARILY cause you to feel fear whenever you think about Auditioning.
POV #1 (FEAR-based POV) “AUDITIONING IS A SKILL”
You believe that Auditioning is a SKILL, and that with time and practice you’ll eventually become proficient in the Auditions department.
Sounds logical, right?
I’m going to attempt to explain why this POV is soooooo unhealthy. It is THE cause of Audition Anxiety.
Bear with me -
People have been socially conditioned to fear rejection. Remember the dance in the 7th grade? Girls on one side and Boys on the other. Everyone leaned against the far wall dreading to walk across the gym floor. Because is that little red haired girl (in my case) rejected you, you’d have to walk all the way back across the empty gym floor toward your snickering peers. I feared that so much that I never went to those things. But then the little red haired girl joined the New Player’s Theatre Company and I discovered I could act.
No one wants to be rejected. Actors are ’supposed’ to take the room, act, and hit it out of the park every time. And a lot of actors suffer from this fear.
It is Yang’s job to audition, and it is Yin’s job to…screen us out. Yin, for the most part, CHOOSES.
If you are reading this, I suppose it’s because you want to be chosen more often…
These days, you see THOUSANDS of methods that are dedicated to this cause.
What these well-intentioned “guru’s” do not realize is that they are actually reinforcing your auditioning Anxieties by framing “Callbacks” or “Auditions” as a SKILL.
Don’t get me wrong – most of these Actors, Coaches, Teachers, and well-intentioned “guru’s” are people I have met personally, and I’ve SEEN with my own eyes that they truly do know what they’re talking about. Some of them are GOOD, and I personally use some of the techniques that they teach and preach on how to consistently audition well.
And I’m NOT saying that an actor shouldn’t learn how to audition like a pro, because it’s more than 85% of the job. Maybe more.
The truth is that you CAN learn a bunch of field-tested audition routines, plow through your fears, and eventually master the Art of Auditioning.
BUT… no matter how good you get, you’ll always have that nasty feeling in the pit of your stomach pre-Audition as long as you continue to think about Auditioning as a skill.
I have even heard very convincing, logical-sounding theories that this Anxiety is hard-wired in and that there is no way that you could EVER get past this.
Cute theories abound about how we all used to be nomad cavemen and women who lived in small tribes, and that in those days, if you risked going outside of societies norms, and stuck out, it would ruin your entire reputation FOR LIFE and that you would be rejected and an outcast and die without passing on your genes…
This was the “reality” hundreds, even thousands of years ago – so they theorize you supposedly still carry a gene that automatically generates this Audition Anxiety. Which is why most actors hate auditions… and most people wouldn’
t dream of being an actor.
While that theory is CUTE, the problem I have with it is simple:
1) Ok, you’ve given us a reason for the problem and no solution.
2)I do NOT have any Audition Anxiety.
There was a time when I did. BUT NOW:
None. Nada. Zilch.
When I audition, my heart rate doesn’t increase, and my breathing rate doesn’t change at all (unless I have to run across the street because I am running late – by the way, don’t ever be late).
I make no claims to be special, or “gifted” or anything like that.
How am I able to do this?!
How did I break f r e e ?
Well… For the low price of $99.99,
Here’s the cure:
POV #2 (LOVE-based POV) “AUDITIONING IS A SCREENING PROCESS”
The ONLY difference between you and I is that I no longer think about Auditioning as a SKILL.
To me, an Audition is nothing more than a screening process.
My thought process?
“Great part. I wonder if the company is good… I wonder if the director has more going for her then an M.A. from Yale… Man, what a great play. I could do wonderful things in this part. I wonder if this director will be the type I like to work with. I wonder how the director likes to work with actors, or under pressure. Do I have time to really make this part mine? Okay then, let’s go find out if she can work with an exploratory actor.
If I get this part, I’
m gonna have cancel the Costa Rica trip I was planning…” You get the idea.
You see, I have no investment in the outcome. I have no outcome other than to find out what the energy is like.
I’m not trying to “succeed at auditioning”.
I’m not seeking any particular REACTION from them.
I’m not trying to make them see me, I am simply trying to find out if *I* want to work with them. I know they are doing this project, but I want to know if I want to work with them
Have you noticed that a lot of people are really miserable?
I still get to have fun no matter what, you see?
I don’t view Auditions as something that you win or lose at. I do not view it as a game, or a skill, and I certainly don’t view it as a way to validate my self-worth. Call me crazy!
Listen to me -
The ONLY problem that you’ll EVER have with Auditions is that YOU GIVE AWAY YOUR POWER.
Their REACTIONS mean nothing to me. They don’t mean that I suck and they don’t mean that I’m good or bad or worthy of love or not.
You see, I would cast myself.
Oh, stop being so HUMBLE… Humble sucks. It’s boring, it’s meaningless, and it’s annoying. You don’t need it; you can let humble go now.
Flowers are not “humble”! They stretch up toward the sun and seem to say, “Look at me, I’m beautiful!”
To recap, the moment you feel that icky feeling in your upper and/or lower belly, it’s because you are choosing to feel inadequate and giving away your power.
You have already decided that a stranger in a casting office has the power to change the way that you feel about yourself.
It’s the wrong lens.
When you see an agent or a casting director, enter a state of PURE CURIOSITY.
Get curious about what she is like, and don’t give another thought to what “she thinks you are like”. Her opinion is none of your business.
She doesn’t know you, and trust me when I say that the majority of her responses to you will be socially-conditioned reactions that truly have nothing to do with Your worth.
Now, realistically it’s going to take a while before you completely let go of the old “Auditioning is a skill” POV and adopt the more healthy “Auditions is nothing more than a screening process” POV.
The old, outdated POV is set on “automatic” right now and you’re going to need to remind yourself that Auditioning is a screening process over and over for at least a month, probably more.
But if you keep on choosing the healthier POV, and you do this proactively, before long you will feel Totally f r e e And Comfortable Around Any And All people in the industry.
Do you know how AWESOME it feels to be f r e e of this Anxiety?
I’m so comfortable, and I always seem to say the right things.
I’m NATURALLY funny and charming and everything else you have been told that you need to make them want to hire you.
I no longer have to THINK about what I’m going to say next! I’m totally in the “Now Moment”
when I meet with CD’s and agents and it’s the most awesome gift I’ve ever given myself.
Here’s a little test for you, so that you can all Be Your Own Gurus and decide for yourselves if I’m right about all of this.
Say the following out loud, and notice which POV makes you feel MORE PEACEFUL:
“Auditioning Is A Skill.”
“Auditioning Is Just A Screening Process.”
Well, which one do you want ?
For more info on Seth visit Acting on Impulse Coaching Services.