How to Use Confidence to Book the Role

There’s a wealth of literature out there on how to beat audition nerves, along with a ton of anecdotal advice passed along from actor to actor. There’s a good reason for this: Auditions are a huge obstacle/opportunity in the high-stakes game of industry success, and actors need to be able to use them as a tool for launching their careers. Actors get this. They get how much is riding not only on their ability to book, but on their ability to be memorable and to leave a mark. 

Rule No.1 of the audition: Stop trying to guess what they are looking for. Assume you are who they’re looking for and bring yourself to the piece with a specific and fun choice. 

One major element which helps to create an internal environment of audition anxiety is the irrational desire to be perfect—to be what “they want” or what “they are looking for.” This is so futile because quite often the producing team will have only a vague idea of what they’re looking for. Thus, in trying to figure out if you are what “they want,” you’re trying to answer a question to which they don’t even know the answer.

Your job has a basic role: Like a hired assassin whose one job is to pull the trigger, your one job is to make a goddamn choice. In trying to guess “what they’re looking for” you set yourself up for imminent failure and you prevent any sort of artistic development from occurring. By making a fun, brave, deeply emotional, and impactful choice, you force yourself to leap into the red mist of dangerous change-effecting acting. I’m not promising that everything will be OK if you do this (and anyone who does is a liar). What I am promising is that you’ll be taking a worthwhile step in your own evolution as an artist. You can’t control the outcome, but what you can control is the fact that you’ll be selling your life and your time at a higher price than the sad, flimsy alternative of trying to fit into some preconceived notion of what is “right.” With 85 clients booked in major film and TV roles (including six series leads) in the last year, I help actors make the truly courageous choices that ignite their performances with attractive confidence so they can go into the room and win the role.

Furthermore, the mental gymnastics of trying to be what the producers are “looking for” puts you in a disempowered position as an actor—no wonder it creates such audition nerves. The moment you cross the threshold of the audition room you need to emanate the platinum light of utter confidence. That is simply not going to happen if you are in the mindset of, “Gosh, I hope this is right” or “Golly, I’m going to try and be as perfect as possible.” You need to walk into the room lit up with the attitude, “I’m the answer that you’re looking for.” If you can’t walk into an audition room and truly own that point of view, then you need to do some very real soul-searching before you accept another audition. 

Creating physical confidence within your own body leads to mental and emotional confidence. One of my students likes to say the words, “You’re welcome, mother f**kers” to herself before she enters the room. These words, in conjunction with her consistent success, previous failures, and accumulated auditioning hours, have helped her to always audition with confidence. This is so important because, quite often, the actual audition is preceded with the “conversational audition” where the producing team attempts to “get a sense of the person” via chitchat. If you’re not projecting confidence, or if you’re trying to be the person that you think they are “probably” looking for, you’re not setting yourself up to win. You’re helping to create a truly tepid scenario where you become as memorable and desirable as a commercial for something like “Ted’s Furniture Warehouse.” 

I’m not saying that any of this stuff is easy, but if you’re truly serious about launching your career and reaching your Oscar potential on set, you need to have the willingness to cast aside any notion of what the producers want. Have the inner bravery to decide that you’re what they want and allow this adage to jumpstart your entrance into the audition room with genuine charismatic confidence.

This article was originally posted on Backstage

How to Develop Attractive Confidence and Win the Role

The audition starts the moment the casting director, director, and producer lay eyes on you, and not—as many think—when you start “acting.” This could be the moment you walk through the door of the audition room, or during the walk from the waiting room to the audition room. The moment you are identified by your name, here to read for role X, every word or action needs to generate the illumination of pure, complete confidence. 

Your success is a direct result of such confidence. You need to think of yourself as an elite surgeon who is there to perform the most crucial life-saving surgery—and only you can do it just so. Thinking of yourself as akin to someone in the medical profession is useful, as we’ve all experienced confident doctors with warm smiles and handshakes, who aren’t intimidated or disturbed by our gross or mysterious ailments. These are the doctors who convince us they can cure us, heal us, and help us, even though they don’t have to say a word affirming this. Their body confidence is so strong it’s like another entity in the room; it tells us so. 

On the flip side, there are the doctors who do everything but exude confidence. Their words and actions produce anxiety and lack of clarity, effortlessly suggesting that our stubborn rash or odd bump might be something that rhymes with smancer. They seem unsure of themselves and our symptoms do nothing but to befuddle them. Medical professionals like these are like actors who have a shaky grip on their preparation, who don’t believe they’re right for the role, who don’t believe they deserve it, or who freak out if there’s a last minute change of sides or additional pages to prepare. No one wants a doctor like that, and no one wants to pay an actor like that, or have such anxious energy contaminating a set. 

Building Confidence
Just as I’ve always said that the personality of the actor is nine-tenths of the performance, fostering and exuding real confidence is essentially the foundation on which this performance rests. It’s the cement layer upon which you build your skyscraper. 

Just as you must distill your “hook”—the deeply improvisational and emotional attitude that launches you into the start of every scene—you must adopt and ignite a body attitude of power, grit, and determination before walking into the room.

Body confidence leads to actual confidence (emotional confidence). Just as your words create your reality, confidence in your body develops into internal confidence that starts to effect change. Before walking into every audition, one of my brave and talented master class students lights himself up with the attitude: “I’m the fucking solution.” 

If you consider the confidence of certain celebrities, such as Scarlett Johansson, one can conclude that it’s a direct result of accumulated years of constant validation. I help actors develop that level of impactful attractive confidence within minutes to help them go into the room and book the role. 

Authentic vs. Fake
As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, genuine confidence always comes with repeated success, colossal failure, and many years of flying hours. In the audition room, you need to know deep down in your gut that you’re the best person for the role and that you deserve it. Unless you are able to hold those two truths simply and utterly in your heart, you’ll reside in the danger of having your confidence look fake, manufactured, or as if you’re trying too hard.

Again, we can return to the doctor analogy to illustrate this point. Truly confident doctors radiate their unshakable belief in themselves with each syllable and each second of eye contact. Doctors who aren’t confident but desperately try to appear so are the ones who say things like, “don’t worry” in such a way that it does nothing but ignite anxiety. 

The 3 Results Confidence Will Get You
When you’re at your Olympic best as an actor, brimming with confidence, there are only three results you should be satisfied with after an audition:

1. Booking the role. You got the part, kid!

2. Booking the room. They loved you and your performance blew their minds, but you are just not right for the role. Maybe it’s your height. Maybe you look too similar to the lead. Be assured that they will be calling you back for another part in their next big project. You will most likely win that role.

3. Bringing you back. This is a subset of booking the room. This means the powers that be bring you back in either for a callback, a producer’s session, a chemistry read, or to read for some other part in the same project. 

These are the career-launching results that a performance lit up with confidence will deliver.

This article was originally posted on Backstage

Can You Start an Acting Career Later in Life?

My belief is yes, you can absolutely start an acting career after 40+. I help clients who are much older launch their careers; it’s all about creating your own content these days and not waiting for permission to market yourself. Last year, my clients over 40 were booking as many roles as the younger actors at my studio.

I find that in many cases, older actors have certain advantages when it comes to starting a career over 40. The most obvious advantage that they possess is that they’re more settled and have the wisdom of life experience to bring to the table. They’ve loved, they’ve lost, they’ve raised kids or are currently doing so, and they’ve made major financial commitments, all while experiencing deep levels of joy and disappointments. They’ve fought battles and won, and fought battles and lost. I’m in no way asserting that younger actors have not had many of these experiences, it’s just that older actors have had more: It’s a simple fact of life. They are able to bring a more multi-colored richness to the table. They often have better inter-personal skills which can be invaluable on set, developed from years of nurturing families or working in offices. 

One could argue there’s also a smaller pool of competition in the over-40 age group. It’s common knowledge that not all the hot young things that move out here stay in the business. The over-40 group of actors is inherently smaller because the business is so tough. Many younger actors end up pushing “the dream” to the back burner in the name of starting a family or going off to pursue goals that seem more accessible, like law school, nursing school, or starting a business. That said, the competition is tough in the over-40 pool. The actors that have stuck with the business have nice credits and formidable acting chops. They’ve been acting their asses off for decades and have sunk their hearts into the business, making them truly daunting opponents. 

With actors of all ages, it’s important to define “career” as new media has changed the game. Older actors who are new to the game have to be feverishly proactive, not just in study and in developing the craft, but in creating a strong web presence and making memorable content. 

Age, or feeling too young or too old, should never be a deterrent in preventing you from doing what you want to do in any arena of your personal and professional life. It might be more or less of an obstacle given what you want to do, but it should never pose a blockade.

This Article was originally posted on Backstage