Written by Michelle Danner
Preparing Your Child for an Audition
Preparing for an audition is not entirely dissimilar to preparing for a job interview. While most adults, even if they have never auditioned before, can at least fall back on their job interview experience when considering rules of interaction and etiquette, most children need special preparation to help them interact with the world of adults.
Talk to your child about the audition, especially if the audition is for a commercial or a product. For example, if potato chips are the product being advertised, talk about the kinds of foods go best with potato chips, or when your child likes to eat them. During the audition, your child will likely get asked about the product. If she is asked “Do you like potato chips?”, a simple “yeah”or “nah”will likely not get as positive a reaction as if she says “I love potato chips! I like to eat them with hamburgers and hot dogs. My favorite flavor is sour cream and onion!”Just as with a job interview, a little knowledge of and enthusiasm for the product or company can go a long way.
When helping your child to rehearse a part, avoid having them repeat the lines in the same fashion every time. Remember that directors want to work with children that can take direction. Have your child read the lines quickly, slowly, with different emotions, and with emphasis on different words. You could even try to have her say the lines with a funny voice or accent.
It’s not necessary to have a girl plastered in makeup or a boy wearing a suit. Casting directors are looking for kids that look like kids, so dress them as if they were heading out for a normal day of school. One exception is that it might be advantageous for her to wear something memorable, so that she can easily be recalled later in discussions. For example, they might not remember your child’s name, but they might remember “the girl in the Hello Kitty shirt”.
While acting rehearsals are important, it’s also important to rehearse introductions. Spend some time having your child introduce herself to you, as if you are the director. Ensure she remembers to smile and make eye contact, and make sure she understands proper etiquette.
It would also be wise to spend some time rehearsing some simple practice questions, to help your child feel comfortable talking about her. Encourage her to avoid using one-word answers. If asked about her day at school, instead of saying “OK”or “it was fine”, it would be better for her to talk a little bit. “School was great. At recess we made a big fort out of snow! And then in art class we got to play with plasticine, so I made a cool-looking dinosaur!”Help your child feel comfortable showing her personality.
The Casting Room
Once she enters the casting room, there are three things she should do. She should say hello and make eye contact with everyone in the room, then perform her scene, then say thank you and exit the room. It’s important at this stage to avoid asking questions such as “How did I do?”or “When will you call me back?”The casting director knows how to get in touch with her if necessary.
Casting directors understand that child actors are usually quite nervous. If a mistake is made, it is OK to ask to start the scene over, but it’s also important to avoid making excuses. As a parent, never make excuses for your child. Casting directors have heard every excuse countless times, and simply don’t have time to listen.
Remember to Have Fun
Encourage your child to learn as much as possible and enjoy themselves at auditions. Rather than pressure your child to get the role, congratulate them for the doing their best.
Michelle Danner is the founding and artistic director of The Edgemar Center for the Arts a cultural arts center in Santa Monica, CA. She is a renowned actor, director and award-winning acting coach. Her studio encompasses the following acting techniques : Meisner, Strasberg, Adler, Hagen, Chekhov, & the Stanislavsky Technique.