The Inconvenient Truth: You Will Get Audition Nerves.  Here’s How to Overcome.


You know the feeling, that huge casting director finally called you in for an audition.  You’re excited, this could be your big break! Your mom will finally say, “ My child is a professional actor” instead of, “I’m not really sure what she’s doing….uhhh...some Hollywood thingy?”  All you have to do is nail that audition and you’ll be on your way!
At the audition you suddenly lose control of your bodily functions and start to sweat uncontrollably, your heart races, you try to vocalize your perfect dialogue and some foreign sound escapes your lips.  You are horrified. The casting director tries to console you with a too bright, too cheerful, “Thanks for coming in!” Awkward smile. Bolt for the door. Yikes!
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I’ve been in this situation so many times.  I get nervous and my Oscar winning performance evades me.  Through my trials and errors, here are some helpful strategies to overcome those inconvenient audition nerves.

 

TIP 1: Mimic Nervous Feeling in Rehearsal

Mimicking nervousness may sound strange, but stay with me.  If I was scheduled to run the insanely difficult San Francisco marathon,   I would practice running 26.5 miles on actual hills and steep inclines. I want my lungs, breathing pattern and mindset to be familiar with the stressful conditions of the event.  In the same vein, I now mimic the stress and nervousness my body feels inside the audition room, during my at home preparation.

I make my body as hot and sweaty as possible by doing jumping jacks, high knees, or running, while reciting my lines. This helps my brain focus even harder on my character’s emotions and dialogue.  

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When I lived in California, I’d jog to the beach and memorize my lines out loud. This way, rehearsing wasn’t just a head game, it was a whole body game. It may look silly for an actor to run in public with audition sides in her hand, but it’s not silly to be confident at an audition. Before, my body was “sleeping”  while only my brain memorized lines, but now my whole body is involved. This process is a game changer.

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TIP 2: Tape The Audition At Home

After my whole body is physically warm and involved in learning audition dialogue, I record the progress using an iPhone or Macbook camera.  It’s challenging to do by myself, but very important in understanding exactly what I look, sound, and breathe like in the audition room. There is an adrenaline rush and unconscious pressure when I know I am being recorded, and I get very comfortable with that feeling.


TIP 3: Human Interaction is the Best Remedy

Lastly, I grab a kind roommate, neighbor or lover and perform my audition scene in front of them.

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I make sure to tape this nerve-racking experience, it’s the closest thing to performing in front of a professional casting director.  My friend reads the other character’s dialogue and it’s a very different experience to hear the audition piece out loud in someone else's voice.  I used to be embarrassed for my friends to see me act, I didn’t want them to think I was a “terrible actress.” Now I know if I mess up, it’s better to know exactly what to improve and have a successful audition. For more expert advice I hire a coach, like the great Shawn Nelson, but only after I practice physically and tape my work.


There you have it, I know these tips will make you more confident in your audition, and banish those inconvenient nerves.

 

Jamie Ann Burke 
Actress
Founder, Thespian Heart Clothing
www.thespianheart.com
www.thespianheart@gmail.com

 

 

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