Everybody feels them at one time or another during their lifetime.
But, as actors, you feel them far more often than anyone else! You're constantly putting yourself out there, auditioning, performing, at the risk of being rejected. Unfortunately, 'putting yourself out there' is a necessary part of being an actor, which means that nerves will be a big part of your career... Unless you can learn to shoo those butterflies away!
While there is no guaranteed method to kick those buggers to the curb, the following simple tips and tricks can help put you at ease. Which will help you perform at your best and present yourself as professionally as possible, all while showing them how you can totally embody the character you're reading for:
1. Prep Your Mind
Knowing the sides inside and out before you walk into the door is perhaps one of the best things you can do to help eliminate nerves; a good portion of your anxiety is probably a fear of forgetting your lines. But, if you're confident you have studied, understood, and interpreted the material 100% before you even get in the door, then it will lessen the fear right off the bat. Also try and be familiar with the script and the genre if it's available to you (it's perfectly fine to ask your talent agency, should you have one, if there's a script available); this general knowledge will also add to your confidence, via preparedness. And don't be afraid to be aware of who might be in the room with you. For most beginning auditions, you'll be with just the casting director and their associates, and for other auditions and callbacks, you'll be right in the room with the producers or director of the show or film. Often, if you're with an agency, they'll let you know whom you'll be seeing when you get the audition information. If not, you can always ask.
2. Compose Your Body
When we get nervous, often times there are physical symptoms: dry mouth, sweaty hands, and armpits, shaking, and so on. This can put a real damper on your preparation and also add to your nervousness -not only do you feel nervous, but you look it too! Don't fret! Make sure you get to your appointment a little early (15 minutes or so is enough) to prepare yourself before you go into the room. Go to the bathroom, fix your hair, makeup, clothes, and maybe reapply deodorant. Bring a bottle of water for the waiting room to stay hydrated, and breathe calmly and deeply. Once you've done this, it's time to distract yourself and maybe review your sides.
3. Keep Busy
If you have time to kill and you're sure you're comfortable with the material, don't feel that you have to keep reviewing. Sometimes frantically trying to re-read and prepare more right before your audition can cause more anxiety. But with that being said, it's also important to review at least once right before you go in. With that being said, don't be afraid to go over the pages when you're on deck. Prior to that, though, bring a book, headphones, or a pad of paper, perhaps, to distract yourself, or get into your zone (but make sure the music is kept low as not to distract fellow actors and to ensure you can hear when your name is called). You can read quietly, listening to calming music (and to prevent other people from talking to you), or doodle on the pad of paper. Also, if talking to a certain friend or loved one helps, try texting them (again, silenced though) or go outside of the waiting room where you're not a nuisance and chat for a few minutes to calm yourself down.
You'd be surprised how much you forget to do that when you're all clammed up and worried about what's going to happen. While a few deep breaths (in through the nose, out through the mouth) can really do wonders, another great method is to take a big breath, hold it for as long as you can, and release slowly, feeling how wonderful it is to have fresh Oxygen flowing into your body. You may feel a bit ridiculous doing this, so feel free to take a step outside the casting office and do it in a private place (but make sure to be back in time to hear your name called).
5. Positivity is Key
This may sound utterly clichÈ, but it's so true! When you have confidence that you can nail this role, that you are exactly what they're looking for, that this role was made for you, it really makes all the difference. You are this character, and no one else but you can embody her/him as you will. If you believe in yourself, stay confident and be positive, you can make it happen. It's inevitable. You've got this.
If you have to, try imagining the auditors in their underwear, or in a funny costume, or as your friends and family. By doing this, you're casting them in a more vulnerable light, humanizing them, and this should give you a sense of rightful power: this is your audition. So run with this! Allow yourself to take back the power and confidence. And honestly, you'll be surprised at how much this makes the auditioning process significantly easier and less stressful.
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