In the opening of the HBO documentary “Showbiz Kids,” as reported by Variety, a rather astounding statistic is revealed – of the more than 20,000 child actors who audition for Hollywood roles, 95 percent don’t book a single job. It can be tough for kid actresses and actors, as well as their parents. You want to help your child but probably have little knowledge of acting or the industry. For kids who are auditioning, whether for a commercial, Broadway, or a community theater show, nerves are common. Thankfully, many have been there before and with that experience comes some good advice that can help when it comes to acing that next audition.
It’s Okay to be Nervous
As noted, nerves at auditions are common, and it can even be a good thing. Adrenaline is needed for running a marathon and many other activities, including auditions. You can use the nervous energy, turning it into good energy. It’s important to keep in mind that casting directors aren’t like “American Idol” judges who want to tear you to pieces, they want to love you because if you’re the one for the role, you’re making their life easier. Nervous parents can make anxiety worse, which means it’s a good idea for mom or dad to step away, leaving the room if it’s impossible to stay calm.
Casting directors aren’t looking for a 9-year-old to act like a well-rehearsed 30-year-old, they want an authentic, real 9-year-old with a personality, not a controlled actor. This isn’t the time for being quiet or even politeness necessarily. While that may be a good thing in many real-life situations, it isn’t what most directors want when watching kids come into the casting room and audition. A child who performs material that is too mature for them or is too stiff won’t catch that director’s eye. Instead, their natural personality should shine through.
Be Prepared with the Right Materials
When auditioning for the theater, kids should prepare 16 or 32 bars of a song along with two one-minute monologues, one that’s comedic and one that’s dramatic. It can be practiced by speaking into a recorder and transcribing it so that it sounds natural. Songs should show off talent, which means avoiding anything too high for your voice. A favorite song is ideal, making it easier to sing with passion. But as long as it’s sung well, any song will do.
At the same time, while prepared audition materials are a must, be willing to try new things. Some directors might ask you to stray from what you’ve prepared to test other skills and make sure that you can listen and follow directions.
Always Arrive Early
Aim to arrive at your audition at least 10 minutes before the scheduled time. You don’t want to get there at the last minute with no time to collect your thoughts or even catch your breath. Taking the time to run over your lines and breathe slowly to calm any frayed nerves often means more self-confidence, increasing the odds you’ll ace that audition.