A few weeks ago I went in for an audition and was pleasantly surprised to see a director I knew. This was my second time being seen by this director, and though we had never actually worked together, they had just wrapped up a project that a good friend was working on. I liked this director. We had a good connection, they communicated their notes well, and the experience felt less like an audition and more like a rehearsal in which I was free to explore and make choices. Even more importantly, I felt appreciated. My time and my choices were both clearly valued by this person. Personally, as an artist there are very few things for me that feel better than walking out of an audition knowing it was time well spent.
Cut to the call back, an equally pleasant experience. Again I felt valued, free, and (hopefully) my choices and connection to the material reflected that. I went home that night confident that I had given the best interpretation of the character that I could.
Now, here’s the kicker: I didn’t get the job.
I would like to say that I shrugged it off, but let’s face it, I’m human and I’m an actor. I dissected my call back from top to bottom over the next week. Was I too confident? Not confident enough? Did I really give it my all? Did I somehow offend someone in the room?
And then I stumbled on this wonderful little video from one of the greats of our generation, Bryan Cranston. Seriously, if you do nothing else for yourself as an actor all week long, watch this clip:
Did you watch it? I’ll know if you’re lying.
One minute and thirty seconds of life changing advice. My job wasn’t to walk into that room and get a job. My job was to walk in that room and create a character, let him live his life, and then walk away. If I managed that (and I think I did) then my work was done. I don’t need to worry about why I didn’t get a job because, as Master Cranston says, that’s out of my control.
I have one more story, and though this is a borrowed one, it feels like it belongs here. I know someone who was loosely involved with auditions for a major acting school last year. A young man who was trying for a graduate position at this school gave a phenomenal audition. The audition panel was extremely complimentary after he left the room. They said it was one of the best performances they had seen in years. And in the end he didn’t even make it to the first round of callbacks.
Why? I kid you not, he was too good. The panel felt he wouldn’t learn anything by attending their school, and they should use the slot for someone who needed to grow.
This young man doesn’t know why he didn’t make it in, and he probably won’t ever find out. I’m not saying we don’t get the role because we are always too good (though my ego would like to believe that!) But we can appreciate that not getting it is out of our hands. Auditions are tough, but as long as we walk in, create a character, and behave truthfully, we can walk out with our heads held high and ready for the next one.