How To Use or Lose Those Nerves For Audition Success

by Michael Coleman on October 4, 2009

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Most auditions that fall apart and do not resemble what the actor had in mind when rehearsing things in their living room comes down to one word… Nerves.

Here are some thoughts and advice on how to eliminate or better yet “use” the nerves to your advantage. Different scenes and characters can utilize these feelings differently.

For characters that require a sense of urgency, tension, stress, a level of distress, etc… I often see actors come into the room and take a moment or two to eliminate their “audition nerves” and reach a level of calm only to struggle through their entire scene as they aren’t able to portray the level of stress, tension, urgency that the scene requires. If the scene requires an edge of uncertainty, doubt, etc. use the natural feeling you have walking into the room. If you are feeling a little scared and the scene requires you to be a little scared – GO. Start! Don’t take several moments to compose only to spend the entire audition trying to lose that same composure.

For scenes that do not require this level of uneasiness or require a different tone I suggest you do a few things. before you begin take a full breath in and exhale a full breath out before performing while on your mark. Avoid taking a deep breath and holding your breath until the scene begins. I see this a lot in the room and it often leads to a rocky start.

I also suggest playing the “truth game” in your head when you walk in. Be aware and warm up being truthful in all you do. Make simple, truthful statements in your head about your environment–

* The Casting Director is wearing glasses.
* The chair is black.
* The reader is a guy.
* I am going to use that chair from Ikea.

I know a lot of actors that kind of snap out of it once they leave the room and they couldn’t tell you much about what just happened only moments before. When you are in the room – be in the room.

You would be surprised at how powerful this little exercise can be. It is your job to be grounded and perform in honesty. This is a great warm up and wonderful to put the entire room into a place of calm of simplicity. (I would do these statements in your head without moving your lips to avoid looking a little crazy)

For anyone that has a problem with nerves in the room I encourage you to try these techniques. I would love to hear your experiences after trying these in your next auditions. I have personally found tremendous success from these ideas as have some of the actors I have worked with and I would love to hear what others think.


michaelcolemanMichael Coleman is an actor, writer, voice-over performer and acting coach based out of Vancouver and Los Angeles. Michael is the founder of The Audition Room and The Shoreline Actors Film & Television Studio both based out of Shoreline Studios.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Alicia October 10, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Hey Michael.

I had an audition for horror the other day and was completely overcome with nerves as it was a new genre for me. I ended up mumbling out of tension and telling the director that I was nervous and explaining why. I think that was a big mistake. I thought it might give excuse as to why I was not doing so well but I think it just made them lose confidence.

I tried looking at the chair and identifying what was in the room but I felt defeated by my own insecurities. I think my biggest issue is that I worry if im doing a believable job and I get nervous people will think I look stupid so I lose that 4th wall and get nervous.

I will try again next time. Thanks!

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