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I whistle a happy tune...Or other ways to calm those annoying audition nerves.

Updated: Feb 24, 2020

As I am sitting here waiting for my car to be serviced, I started talking, as I often do, to the woman sitting next to me. She saw I had my iPad out and asked what I was working on

“A blog,” I said, “For my acting business.”

Her eyes lit up like a cartoon character that get an idea and you see the light bulb above their head.

I could see her brain thinking, processing, when she finally said,

“Oh - I could never do that - how could you take all that rejection! All those people telling you you aren’t good enough. I’d be too nervous every time.” At that moment, I decided to change what my blog today was going to be about.

How do you, (or your child), go into a career that repeatedly tears you down, sometimes even after you’re cast? How do you get back up and continue to audition again and again. How you do settle your nerves before an audition so you can give your best read?

The answer will differ from person to person, but I will give you my experience.

You can get through it - because you have no control. NO CONTROL. Should I say it one more time for good measure? NOOOOOO CONTROL!

I know some people say they love auditioning. Maybe those people are masochists because no matter how many times I have walked into an audition I am scared and nervous, my palms are sweaty and my heart is pounding. This is normal and in fact many amazing actors are the least confident, while many bad actors are overly confident. Point is - confidence can be faked.

I often remind myself that whether I get hired for a role or not, actually has very little to do with my talent and more to do with things I cannot change.

Right after college I auditioned for the Disney Channel. I made it to auditioning in front of the producers, directors, and casting department. My tape went to the head of the channel who loved what I did and thought I was very funny. However, I did not get the role. Why? I looked to old next to the boy who was cast who was 16. I could not have changed my age. It was out of my control.

I keep this in my mind with any audition I go on. I decide to just be happy if I feel I did my best in the audition. It helps me move on if I don’t get the part and not obsess if I could or should have done anything differently.

I know what you are thinking. Great, but how do I stay calm and collected even if I know I have no control? How to I walk in confidently? Here’s the thing: We are actors - Let’s act confident! Fake it till you make it. Am I right?

Acting confident can actually create the physical aura that you ARE confident. No, the nerves won’t suddenly all vanish, but while you’re freaking out on the inside, your body will tell a different story to the panel you are performing in front of. No matter how many times you do audition, and hopefully it will be a lot throughout your career, you will get nervous. You will need to project a person who doesn’t even care if they get the part. In fact, go in thinking that!

“They are lucky to be seeing me today! Finally, the one they have been waiting for.”

Believe me, they want you to be the one just as much.

Okay okay, so now your saying, “But Ariana, what can I do to put on that confidence. It’s really hard!”

Here are some tips:

1) Breathe. Remember all those deep breathing exercises you do to prep for a role, to engage your diaphragm, to support your voice? Well that same breath helps calm nerves. Breathe in and out four or five time as you sit in the waiting room before your audition. Close your eyes and imagine all your nervous energy leaving through your feet. If you have a manta you like, say it: “I think I can,” “I’ve got this,” “I am confident, collected and will be cast!” Our brains are funny things. They are very susceptible to positive thoughts.

2) Focus on things you cancontrol. If you know you get very shaky hands, be sure to put something hard under your sides, so they don’t see your paper waving around. If you are nervous, if will make other people in the room nervous. If you know seeing casting directors gets your heart pounding, put all your focus on your reader, after you say hello of course! Drawing your focus toward one person will help focus your whole body. If you are doing a monologue, focus above the panels heads’ and allow yourself a minute to close your eyes and get into character. If you are doing a scene, be sure to go over it with your scene partner outside the room first. Connect with them and let the rest of the world fall away.

3) Admit to yourself that you’re nervous. Sometimes when we stop fighting something, our bodies relax. Try talking to your body in this way:

“I know you are nervous. I acknowledge this. It’s okay body.” Then picture packing up all that nervousness into a box and leaving it outside the door of your audition room. Tell your brain and body that you don’t need it right now, but that it is valid and you will pick it up again on your way out. Sounds crazy - but it works. I promise.

4) Be Proud. No matter what happens you got through it. This is especially important if you are the parent of a working child actor. Be proud of them. They will beat themselves up enough if they don’t feel they did their best or they let their nerves get the best of them. It’s only one audition in the scheme of many. Try to enjoy the process. Find the little moments you enjoyed during the audition.

5) Like Scar from Lion King says "Be prepared" , Know your lines, know your motives and know your character. (Yes, I know you are thinking but what if it’s a cold read? Just read my Cold Readings Blog where I cover that in detail). Being prepared also includes being early so you have time to relax and focus, being dressed in clothes you feel comfortable in and being prepared that they may ask you to make new or different acting choices. If you expect it you will be less nervous or thrown if or when that happens.

In my acting classes, I often teach my students how to harbor their nervous energy into confident energy. Being nervous will never just go away but there are things to do help project confidence and not let rejection tear you down. Repeat it with me: We really have no control if they cast us, however, we dohave control if we have fun, put our best foot forward and know how to react after we’re done!

Go forth and audition!

For audition prep, acting lessons and more please contact me at!

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