"There's No Business Like Show Business" | How to Prepare for an Audition & Face Rejection
"On my way [to a callback audition for the movie "Little Women"], I hit construction and then got lost. It took me a little while to find the small, inconspicuous building. So I'm trying hard not to cry (don't want to ruin the makeup, you know?), because being late is definitely not a good first impression (unfortunately, it's a chronic problem for me). But I made it. I tried to calm my nerves. Teeth check. Hair and makeup was fine. And then I took a deep breath and walked in. Come to find out that I wasn't 10 minutes late after all (phew!)....apparently actors could come anytime within a set window. Just had to write your name on a list once you got there, and then you'd be called back in that order. There were a few other girls in the waiting room, and of course, we sized up our competition as we all looked at each other. I carefully studied my audition sides. Tried to focus and think of my character.
And then it was my turn. I felt like I did well, but I know I could have done better. I didn't mess up or anything; however, it was an emotional scene and I wish I had engaged more fully like I had when I rehearsed. The tears just didn't come this time. But, when I finished my audition, the director smiled and said, "that was really good. That's all we need to see right now." And then I thanked them and left. And that was it. No further questions, conversation, or direction (sometimes a director will have you redo a part to see how well you take direction). So it could have been a good or bad sign. I emailed them the following day to thank them for the opportunity to audition. They replied with, "Thanks for coming! No matter what happens, know that anyone who made it to callbacks is very talented. Keep up the good work." To me that kind of made it sound like I didn't get a part--when people say, "you're still talented though." But I know I read way too much into everything, I over-analyze, and second-guess myself. I had no idea, in terms of a time frame, as to when I would find out if I had been cast or not (I ended up anxiously waiting for another few weeks). That's what's hard about these kinds of things; often times only the people that made it get notified--so you could just be left waiting for a long time, to finally conclude that you probably weren't cast then. But they ended up announcing who they cast on their Facebook page...." (find out more on my post "What it Was Like Being an Extra and Photo Double in a Movie").
My first audition was when I performed in my first play, as a freshman in high school. And my first public performance as a vocal soloist was when I was 12, at a school choir concert. Since then I have auditioned for 9 additional plays (mostly musicals), 5 music concerts/events, 12 vocal competitions (some of them being online video submissions), and 1 movie. About 34 (including 6 callbacks from stage/film auditions). While I have found success with most of these endeavors, I also have had a few setbacks.
"Dealing with rejection and criticism every now and then is apart of life. We are always judging and forming opinions about others and everything around us, sometimes even subconsciously. And as a performer and artist, these things are very prominent. It's show business. I have nervously stood before many judges, hoping they like me and my performance. I have dealt with "failure" and rejection many times.
I constantly beat myself up and ruminate in negative thoughts about myself after everything I say, do, or don't do. Because I care too much about what others think. I'm afraid of being judged. I want to be liked and accepted. I want to please others and I hate making mistakes. Failure, disappointing others, and feeling rejected are some of the worst feelings in the world, to me. It's like my heart physically hurts and it's hard to bare.
I recently learned that this is actually a thing. It's called Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria, or RSD (which most people with ADHD have). According to ADDitude Magazine, it is "an extreme emotional sensitivity and emotional pain triggered by the perception—not necessarily the reality—that a person has been rejected, teased, or criticized by important people in their life. RSD may also be triggered by a sense of failure, or falling short—failing to meet either their own high standards or others’ expectations."
And although all of these feelings hit me hard, and the anxiety is difficult to deal with...
I love the arts too much to stop. Even with my avoidant personality, I get back up and try again. My passion wins.
This has puzzled and amazed some of my family and friends. A lot of people view me as a shy, quiet, and anxious person--and are surprised when they learn that I auditioned for American Idol (read about my experience), or that I will perform in front of hundreds of people. I'm in introvert that sometimes does extroverted things. Often times, performing and having a script is easier for me than day-to-day interaction with others. Because performing is mostly prepared, planned, and kind of one-sided; whereas, with one-on-one conversation (or talking in front of a large group), I feel more vulnerable....
Being involved in stage theatre has really helped me to get out of my shell. The arts as a whole have had a healing power in my life, and have been an outlet to express myself and find refuge" (from my blog post, "Inside My Mind").
(Check out my article "So You Want to Break into the Music Industry," and this song, which everyone who entered this particular vocal competition had to audition with. I won the top 10 and recorded the 4th verse of the song on Jenny Phillips' studio album).
So remember...if it's a "no," don't get discouraged. A motto my husband and I have when we're playing a board game with our two young children is, "Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose--but we always have fun." Even the most successful performers and celebrities you know failed over and over again. But you know what? They got back up again.
A wise music professor I interviewed once told me, “people who enjoy the struggle learn more and learn faster.” She referred to this as "failing forward". She went on to say that if one does not make mistakes, then he or she will not know what works. It is a matter of just trying things and learning from those mistakes—then acquiring the right tools to fix them. She told me that everyone gets labeled, and that through rejection and feeling like we are not good enough, we have the power to remove those labels.
How to Prepare for an Audition
Being involved in the performing arts has taught me a lot over the years. About life and about myself. Persistence and dedication. Teamwork. Confidence. Coping with rejection and criticism--and how to get back up again when I fall. Greater awareness of my body and emotions. A better understanding of human psychology--of different actor and character personality types. And more.
I have more than 17 years of performing experience (singing, acting, dancing), and over 5 years of teaching experience (K-8th grade music, including directing Christmas mini-musicals). I also had the opportunity a couple years ago to be a musical theatre judge for a regional high school drama competition in Utah (an all-day paid gig), where I filled out a critique sheet, with comments for each student.
So here are some tips I have come up with to help you prepare for that big audition (save to Pinterest!) And if you'd like to learn even more, SIGN UP for my audition prep course (online and in-person). I also give singing, acting, and musical theatre lessons.