It goes like this:
The email comes in from the agent, you get that hit of adrenaline and excitement.
“I have an audition!”
You read the character breakdown. “Leading man looks”, or “striking beauty.” Your heart sinks, “that’s not me, you tell yourself, that’s (fill in the blank with your personal idea of who they should chose instead of you).”
But you soldier on.
You learn the lines. You forget about the breakdown because you really start to see yourself in this role. You make brave, b choices about where you’re coming from and what you mean and who you’re talking to.
You are prepared!
You arrive at the audition. Your heart starts to race. You really want this job, not just because it’s a job and we all want to work, but because you really get this role and it means something to you. It’s important. Your adrenaline spikes, your cortisol levels rise.
You walk into the waiting room. You see that guy you always see, who always gets it over you. Or that girl you’ve never seen, but she’s such a “striking beauty” you know that’s who they really want. Your mind is filled with comparisons of yourself to everyone else sitting there. You start to think about the episode you saw her in, the industry event he was photographed at.
You see the jacket he’s wearing and immediately know you wore the wrong thing, see her blow out and think “why didn’t I take more time with my hair!”
Your body starts to slouch as you stare at the pages in your lap.
You hunch down looking at the lines, trying to get them back in your mind. After all, you knew them last night. Where are they now?
Your chin drops and your body gets small, not wanting to take up too much space in the room.
The casting assistant calls your name.
You stand, spinning around to grab your coat, your bag, your pages.
You follow her to the room, not noticing anything in the office, eyes fixed on her back and the impeding door.
You walk into the room. Your breath is high in your chest.
“Should I sit or should I stand?” “Did you want my headshot?” “Where do you want to start?” The reader starts talking to you, and words come out of your mouth.
“Thanks so much for coming in!” “Any time, it’s always great to be here!”
You walk out of the room.
For the first time you feel your hands. With every step your feet get heavier on the ground. You feel the tension in your spine, your heart pounding, the heaviness in your stomach. You get to your car and collapse into the seat re-running the whole event in your head. You can’t even remember the reader’s face. Did the casting director smile at you? Yes? No? You can’t remember.
The audition is over.
What if it went like this instead.
The email comes in. Adrenaline! Excitement! Your eyes slide past the character description because they already want you, that’s why you’re being asked in.
You learn the lines, making b choices about where you’re coming from, what you want and who you’re talking to.
You arrive at the audition.
In the elevator you power poses, standing with your hands on your hips, head up, chest up, breathing in and out through your nose. Your stress hormones diminish and your confidence rises. In the waiting room you notice familiar faces and think, “Hey, I’m in good company!” You put your feet flat on the ground and close your eyes.
You take a deep, soft breath in through your nose and feel your feet on the ground.
You exhale gently through your mouth hearing the sound of your breath, knowing you’re right where you’re supposed to be, where you belong. You sit up tall and refresh the lines of the script with your back away from the chair and your head up.
The casting assistant calls your name.
You look him in the eye and say, “that’s me.”
As you walk through the office with your head up, you see the faces of the people who want you to get the job.
You walk into the studio.
“Hi! So glad to be here. Here’s my headshot and resume. I’d love to stand for scene 1 and sit for scene 2.” “Go ahead and start whenever you’re ready,” the casting director tells you. You take a breath, feeling your feet on the ground and look into the face of the reader. As you move through the scene, you search the reader’s face- your scene partner’s face- for signs that they’re really hearing you, being moved by you. You fight for what you want in that scene and know where you’re getting it because the evidence is right there, in her face. “Thank you so much for coming in! It’s so great to see you!”
You walk out of the room with your head held high, taking in what is around you.
You breathe fully, knowing you did all you could do, and on the drive home you sing along to the radio because the audition is behind you. Everything that comes next is out of your hands, you’ve done your job.
The work we do as actors is conveyed through our bodies. If we are not experiencing our bodies we are already missing out on the present moment. If we’re missing out on the present moment, we cannot move the room as fully as we could if we were truly present.
In the wise words of social psychologist Amy Cuddy, “Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.”
Studies have shown that people with confident body language are trusted more often with risky investments. This is because a confident speaker makes us feel more confident about what they’re sharing, but also because those with confidence in their ideas carry themselves with more power.
If you have done the work, if you are confident in your choices, you will carry yourself that way. Then when you choose the body language of the role you’re inhabiting it is just one more b choice, not an accident of your nerves.
A Waiting Room Meditation:
I am breathing.
I am breathing in this room.
My feet are on the ground.
My feet are on the ground and I am breathing in this room.
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