Making Bold Choices: The Do’s and the Don’ts

Making bold choices can set you apart from the competition or it can get you the title of “crazy actor.”

How to make bold acting choices

When actor Michael Dorn went to audition for the role of Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation, he walked straight to the back of the room and stood there, ramrod straight and unblinking. He did not smile, speak, or sit. When called, he marched into the room, scowled, and shook the interviewer’s hand sharply. Afterwards, he gruffly thanked the director and walked out. He so inhabited the character that they simply had to cast him:  he was the only actor “being” a Klingon warrior.  He “was” Worf.

Making bold choices like Michael Dorn can set you apart from the competition or it can get you the title of “crazy actor.” What worked for him may have gotten you kicked out of the audition room. Or your self-tape chucked in the digital trash.

How do you know when to make a bold choice? One of my clients told me a story about an actor who, to make his self-tape, went to a location and dressed in costume. She emphasized that:

“He got the role!”

The assumption is that he got the role because he went to location and dressed the part, but I warn you – we don’t know why he got the part.  But the idea that the location and costume is what sealed the deal, made my client ask me:

“Should I go on location, wear a costume and basically make a film? Is that what it’s going to take to book roles?”

The short answer is no.

I frankly thought his booking the role was out of the ordinary. It makes me wonder what kind of project this was. My guess is that it was probably non-union and low budget. Because, SAG/AFTRA is looking at the issue of what production companies can ask and expect from an actor and their self-tapes.

No, you should not have to shoot on location and dress the role to get a part.

According to SAG/AFTRA rules the actor shouldn’t even have to memorize the scene. Because being memorized is considered performing and that’s what an actor is paid to do.

That rule was the original reason why actors are asked to hold the script in an in person audition. Because if you’re holding the script – memorized or not – then your acting is considered a “work in progress” and not a finished performance – worth being paid for. Now I’m starting to see, written on breakdowns, statements from casting that the actor must hold the script for their self tapes. I assume this may be coming from SAG/AFTRA.

Still would I tell you that you don’t have to be off book? No I wouldn’t. It’s a Catch 22.

I’ve often heard casting directors say they feel insulted when an actor gets in costume for an audition. They say “I have an imagination.  I know what hair and makeup can do.”  They just want you to infer what the character might be wearing. I.e. instead of wearing scrubs – just wear a plain v-neck shirt. It sets the tone and puts casting in the scene with you without being an obvious costume.

Nevertheless bold choices are important. But run your bold choices by this list of Bold Audition Don’ts and Do’s to help you decide. 

Notice that there are several ways to make a bad choice and it’s so simple to make a good choice. 

Acting is simple, it’s not easy. 



I’ve seen actors audition who said they wanted to make a bold choice and frankly, it wasn’t bold, the choice was just wacky and weird. It makes casting uncomfortable and makes us wonder about the mental health of the actor.

Generally those super wacky choices are made without justification in the script.  In the case of Michael Dorn – the show was Star Trek – they were looking for true characters from a different world.


Gimmicks also come from making a choice that is not based in the world of the story nor justified in the script. A gimmicky actor is using something – sometimes a prop, accent, costume, or idea that is not serious or of real value to the story simply to attract casting’s attention. You will attract their attention, but not for the right reasons. Casting Directors see a gimmick a mile away.


Your self tape is not about making cool lighting and camera choices to wow casting.  They want to see your acting. They want to see that you can live in the circumstances, experiences and intentions of the character in that story. The more you can do that with a simple background and a locked down camera – the more impressive your acting will be.



You must justify your choices. Do your homework. Research the project. Break down the script and know what your character’s relationships and intentions are. You want your choices to be grounded in the text, story and world of the show. Don’t make random choices  for the sake of being bold.


Think about how you relate to the character. Trust your instincts. This work will keep you grounded in the facts of the show and the script and bring your personality to your character.  There is no one else in the world like you. This is your unique stamp.

Stick to how you relate to the character and scene.  Follow your instincts. Be you. This is what will make you stand out and casting will translate your transparency as a bold choice.

Notice that there are several ways to make a bad choice and it’s so simple to make a good choice. 

Acting is simple, it’s not easy. Think of Rachel McAdams’ audition for The Notebook.  She was so connected to her reader – Ryan Gosling and specific and living in the experience of the scene that we the audience could envision in our minds the world of the story around her. Her honesty, connection, vulnerability is what made her choices bold and booked the job.  That’s what an undeniable audition/self-tape is. And that’s what you want to do – and it has nothing to do with focusing on being different from everyone else or being a great filmmaker.

Remember: Go boldly… but go smart.

Loren E. Chadima – Creator/Acting Teacher, Intentional Acting

Find out what’s missing, breakthrough and book more jobs! Let’s meet and see I can help you! |
Instagram: @IntentionalActing | Youtube: Intentional Acting | Facebook: Intentional Acting

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top