I was shopping at the mall when I got a casting call for an audition. They wanted it ‘ASAP’. It was not the most ideal of circumstances as the place was noisy and I certainly wasn’t in the mental frame to ‘act’. I thought for a while and then found a quiet corner with good natural light. I asked my sister to hold the camera for me, and to also help me with cues, (of course with the promise to buy her a meal later) Recorded it, uploaded it, and sent it. The take was okay. I never heard from them again.
I am a trained actress and am told of stories where actors immersed for days in a role, before taking an audition. That is not my life. I keep finding myself in these sorts of mall situations – where I have to be ever ready. Earlier, auditions for film used to take place in person, at a studio. You were called a day or two before, given a bit of background on the project, and sometimes even got the script. Hence there was time to prepare. With the new norms of social distancing, auditioning has also become virtual, and actors are expected to send a self-test. And casting people always expect actors to send these self-recordings as soon as possible! Preparation and spending time with the script are extremely important and really make all the difference but in today’s reality, often we simply do not get the time for that. You might be holidaying or shopping and in a moment you’re expected to get into character, and also give it your best.
Here, some everyday practices come into the picture. Having the right attitude and practice is the only way to stay prepared all the time. Here, I have come up with some ways to handle these kinds of situations – for an audition that might drop on you unannounced. I think they are equally relevant to anyone who may be called upon to do a high-stakes presentation at work.
- Say yes
Wherever you are, at the beach/ at a wedding (unless it’s your own), try saying yes to the casting guy. The moment you make saying yes your habit, you accept the challenge at hand and you have started to think of ways you can make it happen. Giving an audition after taking a thousand risks might be better than sending nothing. Same way, at work, say yes to that meeting, that interaction with a client, that presentation. You will find a way to tackle it when you are in the situation.
- Trust your instinct
You really have to believe that it’s not a day’s job. All the training/experience that you have gone through before this resides in your body and you just have to trust that. Sometimes you have to go with the first thoughts that you have regarding what would work and what won’t work for your character. In a work situation, have confidence in your experience so far. Build on it.
If you haven’t got the time to work on the pauses and mark your script, doesn’t mean that you don’t have the freedom to play around. If you’re having fun while recording, it always adds to your performance. For work, go prepared, indeed. But when you are in the meeting, let yourself flow and enjoy the process.
- Ask for Feedback
This is a given while auditioning in person, but no harm in doing the same while making a self-tape as well. If you’re doing it you better do it right. In your business work situation, ask other people who were in the meeting how they thought it went. You can learn from their perspective.
- What Pride in Hustle
The hustle culture tells us to adapt to every situation. There is no glory in taking risks and challenging yourself when you can simply ask for more time. The casting people will always ask you to send it asap, but if you tell them your situation, they might understand and give you time. But if you don’t ask, how would you know? In any situation, asking more questions can only give you more time or more information about the challenge you are putting yourself into.
Although making an audition at an odd place might make for a good story to tell, it’s up to you to decide every time if you can do it then and there or not. And if you cannot, don’t feel any shame or guilt. It’s okay to push yourself but within reason. What is most important is that the situation helps you build and not undermine your confidence!
By Vrinda Malhotra – Actor, Theatre-maker, and veteran Auditioner