Tips on Winning at Any Audition!

When you're auditioning you need to have material handy, prepared and brilliant-ready to go!

Whether you’re auditioning for an AGENT, TV CASTING DIRECTOR, THEATRE COMPANY or FILM DIRECTOR you need to have material handy, prepared and brilliant-ready to go!

Know your market, know what to expect!

And if you’ve been using that one favorite monologue that you love and that “fits you like a glove” (like for the last 5 years), you might consider working on something NEW. Maybe you’ve changed or maybe it’s just time to get something fresh that will market your skills in a unique way or for a different media.

Here are 5 kinds of audition material you should have prepared like an ACE up your sleeve!

If you are prepared, no matter what, you can WIN!

1. Classical Monologue – Even if you don’t want to go out of town to a Repertory company to do Much Ado About Nothing, what about auditioning for a modern version of As You Like It in the Park (Central Park) with several celebrities and an Oscar winning director?

You never know where that could lead…a film career? So, have a classic/Shakespearean monologue ready…only 1-2 minutes. If the language of 16th century England is a barrier, seek out a coach or learn something from Moliere. (Richard Wilbur‘s translations in iambic pentameter are a riot and FUN to do. Look at The Misanthrope).

Or even simpler, choose Chekov who sometimes sounds as contemporary as Neil LaBute or John Patrick Shanley i.e., Uncle Vanya or The Seagull. The point is, have SOMETHING ready that bespeaks another era and a “style” other than the “hood” or “Hollywood”.

2. Contemporary Monologue – Either Comedic or Dramatic. Choose material from anything written for the theatre in the last 3-5 years OR something taken from a recent film or TV series AS LONG AS IT IS NOT RECOGNIZABLE as performed by a well-known celebrity.

For example, avoid that wonderful speech Matt Damon did in Good Will Hunting or the one that won an Oscar for Angelina Jolie in Girl Interrupted. Anything from the theatre going back a decade or more is outdated, usually performed to death (“groan, groan”-it’s audible in a room full of agents!) and most importantly, NOT ALWAYS RELEVANT.

There are exceptions (Tennesee Williams, Arthur Miller, etc. for the right audition) but a lot of monologues from the 80’s and 90’s are simply not viable if you want to WIN. Life has changed. Social relationships are different.

Why perform something that will create a strange (Why is she doing that?) or negative response. Be up to date and always choose to portray a “winner” not a victim.

3. Cold Copy Scene – If you’re used to doing monologues and get an audition for a Primetime TV Series you’re in for a shock. You’ll be handed a script (or it’s emailed to you earlier). You have very little time-minutes-to look it over, make some quick “artistic” decisions – like HOW you’re going to play the scene- and in you go. You may read the scene, all of 2-3 pages once or possibly twice and you’re on your way in less than 5 minutes.

I’ve timed several of my auditions – under 3 minutes. You’re out the door wondering, what happened? It’s OVER! Then,most actors agonize, “I could have done it better!”, “What did I do?” “Why didn’t I do THAT instead?”

So, you need to understand the technique and be very competent at “cold copy” reads. THEY’RE KILLERS.

Take a class, practice, practice, practice (Margie Haber is brilliant at teaching this by the way. Try to get her book, How to Get the Part without Falling Apart). It’s amazing that a role with 3 lines or two short scenes can be cast in so little time and pay you so much! TV pays well but you have to be a quick decision-maker bringing honesty and reality into your read in minutes if you want to book the part.

4. Prepared Primetime/Film/Theatre scene – Recently a lot of agents and even Personal Managers have expressed a desire to see your work not just on camera but in a LIVE scene in the style of Sitcom, Primetime Drama or Romantic Comedy.

Why? Because 90% of the roles cast, at least in the LA TV/Film market, are just that. So Industry pro’s need to know how well you will do when they send you out for those auditions. SHOW THEM! (that’s why we insist that actors in our NY and LA ACTOR MARATHONS perform a brilliant scene from Primetime – they get more offers from agents!). Work up a scene from a recent Sitcom or Film. Avoid scripts that are TOO well known like “Friends” or at least change the names of the characters. And NEVER duplicate a star’s style-do it YOUR way!

5. Commercial – You may want to have an amazing film career but guess what might be a path to get there? In a commercial.

Many of the young-up-and-coming film directors in both NY and LA work full time in advertising while they’re getting the funds together for their first feature film. So, not only do you make good money doing commercials- we’ve all heard of those $ix Figure ($100,000.00+) residuals – you make good connections down the road when these guys are actually casting their films. They may remember you from that beer spot or the laundry detergent they shot or the network cosmetic commercial you were in.

Learn the technique of being really REAL – no acting, no selling, no announcing, just being YOU in a given situation. It’s a gear shift from Shakespeare to Sitcom, Dramatic theatre roles and Primetime TV to COMMERCIALS. Takes a lot of skill. But commercials are no less valid a media in which to develop expertise.

If you’re good in commercials, you’ll probably be equally good in films- SURPRISE! The technique is very similar! Beside making money you’re seen by billions of people internationally. Someone might have a film or TV role for you!

There are many ways to market yourself and achieve your acting goals. As a Career Coach that is exactly why we create a Strategy and Marketing plan for you. Working in a media other than what you planned on may bring about the CAREER of your DREAMS if you’re open to the possibilities! I hope so and wish that for you!

Successful and FUN AUDITIONING!!


 Gwyn Gilliss is the Founder and Executive Director of TAM, The Actor’s Market, a marketing firm for actors. They provide monthly FREE seminars/teleseminars, FREE weekly marketing tips as well as access to top photographers, graphic artists and videographers who provide every marketing tool an actor needs. Gwyn’s acting career spans several decades during which time she appeared on and off-Broadway, in classical roles in American Repertory companies in over 18 contract and recurring roles in Daytime/Prime time TV, Films and dozens of network commercials/V.O.’s. As the foremost Marketing/Career Coach she is available to work One-on-One with ready-to-succeed actors.

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