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.
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.
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.
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.