I’m auditioning! Yay! For the past year, I’ve been complaining that I don’t audition enough, that there aren’t any roles for me, etc., etc.
But just in this month so far, I’ve had 4 auditions! Wow! I’m so grateful for this. I mean, I’ve gone through 4 months with zero auditions. This is a great statistic for 2014 and I’m excited to see a progression in my career path.
But now, I have a new complaint. About myself. I know I know, always bitching and whining Thi. So here’s another one to add to the pile: my nerves! The only thing getting in the way is myself.
I had an audition last week for a commercial. It had a cute little scene, I had the copy in advance, I knew my lines and was prepared. But the day of the audition, it finally rained in LA. So, there was stupid traffic. I was late of course, by 10 minutes, although I left my place an hour and a half early. I rush in, and the cameraman is giving us a long speech of things NOT to do. I’m paired up with a really great actor immediately and in 10 minutes we were seen. The lines were written on a big poster paper behind the camera, so if one were to trip on the lines, one could look at the paper, pick up the line and continue with the scene.
Now, my heart is beating — from the stress of getting to the place on time and safely, from my stupid nerves, and from the pressure I put on myself to not fuck it up for the other actor! I spazz myself out! Completely! As I was practicing with the other actor, I was amazed at how calm he was, and how the lines were so easy to him. But my brained froze and I just couldn’t remember my lines! And this was just when we were practicing! In the actual audition, I forgot I was in the scene and would just watch the other actor, and would miss my cue. Our pacing was slow and there was this one moment where I completely blanked out and looked at the board for my line, but I couldn’t find it! The pause took too long and the cameraman shut us down. I did not get a callback. Figures.
The next audition was for a play. I left late, I arrived late. So of course, I’m flustered and stressed and didn’t have any time to relax. My audition was a monologue and I go into it immediately. My nerves were palpable: my body was shaking and I was literally choking out the lines. Fortunately for me, the casting director found me to be adorable, told me to RELAX, and to do it again. I took a deep breath, and KILLED it the second time around. I got a callback.
Now, during this audition, I realized that I needed to do a trial run (to fuck it up) to get it out of my system. Once it’s out, all that’s left is the preparation I had done to kill it the second time. But what if there isn’t a first time? Usually casting directors/directors/producers don’t have time for everyone, so you’re lucky to just be in the room with them for 5 minutes. While I’m pondering over this, I also notice that perhaps my anxiety can be due to the fact that I’m arriving late and rushing in.
So, for the callback, I arrive an hour early. Not only that, but there’s a wait, so I don’t get seen until 2 hours later. In those 2 hours, I go through waves of emotion. From getting pumped – I can do this, I have a really good chance of booking this – to getting super anxious – omg I’m going to throw up – to feelings of no nervousness and picking up a book to read while I wait. And then, it’s my turn. My heart is pounding out of my chest, and the director is just talking me up to calm me down. He’s asking me about Spain, and I can’t even form sentences correctly, I’m so nervous. Now, I just want it to be over. I go into the first two lines of my monologue, and I blank out. My mouth is dry and I look to them and ask, “can I start over?” they said, go ahead. (That was my trial run). I do the monologue the second time and I did NOT kill it. (My trial run wasn’t really a trial run because I didn’t go through it all the first time). Whatever. You could hear my voice shake and I took long pauses to let my nerves settle in and to search for the words. Ugh. After it was over, they said thanks and that was it.
I left feeling completely bummed. I had prepared so much for the last two days and I let my nerves get to me. It’s one thing where I don’t get the part because my look doesn’t serve the story, but for this one project, I was made for it. I could’ve been really good for it. But I didn’t prove it. And that’s what kills me. I could’ve done better, but I didn’t. I showed my nerves and that could’ve cost me the role, because if I get this nervous for an audition, how could I ever perform well live? I fucked up and I drive home to mope about it.
But I don’t have time for that either. As soon as I get home, I get an email of another audition. This one is a taped audition. Thank god. No more nerves to deal with. It’s a two-liner costar role for a TV show. I call up a friend to help be a reader and to work the camera. This took us an hour to shoot. Just two lines, just an audition, and we take an hour. Ugh! From the last audition debacle, my nerves had drained me out. So for just these two lines, I wasn’t reacting anymore. I shut down. We eventually got a decent shot after 20 takes, but it just seemed forced out of me. My fuse was out.
So now, as I’m reflecting on everything, I know that nerves are a good thing. It shows passion, it gives the voice vibrato and it’s an energy that people can feel. By my fourth audition, I didn’t have that nervousness and so my scene lacked life. My acting teacher has said that nervousness is normal, everyone gets it, but one has to look at it positively – it’s not nervousness, it’s excitement. All in all, it’s all in my mind. I prepare a lot. I trust in myself that I can do it. I know I can do it. But nerves are such a mind fuck for me and I have to control it.
So, I am reminded of Barney Stinson from HIMYM. He is a man to be quoted. I respect the bro code. And there’s this one thing he says that really resonates with me: “when I get sad, I stop being sad and decide to be awesome instead.” so I’m going to replace the word ‘sad’ with ‘nervous’. When I get nervous, I stop being nervous and decide to be awesome instead.