Sometimes We Fail

Dear Reader

Sometimes things go poorly, and by “poorly,” I mean, really eff-ing badly. As you know, I’m a part-time actress (more here & here). What you may not know, is that I have gotten ALL of my jobs (short films, commercials, music videos) without ever once needing to attend an in-person audition. Until this point, I’ve been landing jobs just by virtue of my application (which includes photos, resume, and links to previous work), self-tape auditions (where actors record and submit short pre-selected scenes by a certain deadline), and Zoom auditions. However, a physical in-person audition is a whole other beast.

Yes, dear Reader, it’s like in the movies — a bunch of similar-looking people show up for the same role. The silver-haired women were clearly going for the role of “mom,” the 20-something-aged men were going for “brother,” and the slender 20-something-aged-dark-haired women were going for two roles “love interest” and “best friend.” The tension was palpable as we all congregated outside the locked door, waiting for the staff to open the audition venue. One of the “moms” introduced herself and got us all talking, before we were ushered up to the waiting room where we all fell silent again.

“Water is on the table, the restroom is in the corner, wait here until you’re called,” instructed the staff member in the vintage flowy dress. A small group was called promptly into the room to run one of the small scenes. We, the remainders, waited in silence. I had the lines memorized but continued to run through them internally regardless. I could hear giddy screams (written into the script) and laughter (probably from the casting team)— this made me nervous — I forgot to practice my giddy scream!

Members of the first group returned to the waiting room and others were led into the audition room. One of the returning actresses tentatively attempted to strike up a conversation about the acting community in New England and others joined in. This became a nice distraction. It turns out most of the others had strong theatre experience— I was the odd woman out as they discussed plays and clowning classes (apparently the latter is more popular than you would think). Regardless, I and others found that we had mutual acquaintances through acting jobs. As I overheard the screams/ laughter a second time around, my nerves swelled like a wave.

Surprisingly, I don’t get nervous about acting anymore. My first Boston “acting” job was background work for a small feature film over the summer (more here), which is as low pressure as it gets! Regardless, I had all the butterflies in my stomach that day, as the director pointed to me and told me to occupy a bar stool in the back corner facing away from the camera (my big debut — ha!). Since then, I had a few small jobs that again sent a course of jitters through my body, however, after two or three months of work, the nerves had completely evaporated… or so I thought.

Waiting room

Finally (like 70 minutes into the audition window), I was called in to read for the part of “best friend.” I was the only new one in the room, as everyone else was already in place. The director quickly explained the scene setup, pantomiming where the pretend door and living room was, and then, gave direction on actions. This info was hard to process quickly, as I mentally tried to remember when my character was supposed to walk through the fake door. The director offered me a script, but I declined, because I had it memorized (and, yes, I really did!). I’m happy to report that the first scene went well (we also experienced the screams and received the laughing response). However, it went downhill from there.

After we did the first scene, the director, decided to do some directing (go figure)— I was told that my character was bubblier and more excitable than I had played it. In my nervous state, my brain could not translate this direction into action and I just… act-ed.. OUt the SCENE as… smooth… … ly as I am typ-ing this… … … sentence. (You see what what I did there.) Long story short, it did not go well! But the story does not end there, as I also had a second scene to read that evening. Returning to the waiting room, I resumed chatting with the other actors. Some of these women (it was mostly women there) were hard core, trying to pursue acting full time (which is tough in a small market like Boston’s). They spend the bulk of their time auditioning (as do I), but they also enjoy taking drop-in skills classes.

When we got on the topic of auditioning in general, they all gushed about how it was great that we could do in-person auditions again since the pandemic. I did a mental spit take. After my small blunder in the audition room, I could not help but ask, why they found in-person auditions to be a good thing. To meet other actors! To build community! To learn things! I admit that meeting the other actors was nice (and, yeah, Instagrams were exchanged to stay connected), but the whole process for me was stressful. Without a car, my commute one-way was around 75 mins (it would have only been 25 mins by car). Additionally, with this in-person audition, I was on site for over two hours! For Zoom auditions, the long auditions lasted up to 15 mins. Altogether, in-person auditions for me are just not an great use of time.

My second scene as the “best friend” went from bad to worse. I declined to take a script again (I knew this scene way better than I did the last one). However, by this point, my nerves were at an all-time high. I literally could not even remember my first line — for the record, it was “hey.” Poof! Nothing! Again, I could not remember “HEY.” Oh, my godddddd. I’m exercising every muscle in my body as I type this because I’m CRINGING at how awkward the situation became for me. Yeah, I stopped the whole scene mid audition and I took a script. However, when I received the script, I could hardly even read it— stumbling over the words, losing my place, etc. UGH. At least, I didn’t cry or vomit (so, there’s that).

Ugh. Ugh! ¡UGH! There is no moral to this story, dear Reader. I prepared and prepared and just couldn’t make it happen. I didn’t come in cocky — I really did know the script, the lines are simple, and I could type them out for you right now from memory to prove a point. Nervous energy won this round and, well, at least this audition experience can help me prepare for future ones.

There is no way in H. E. double hockey sticks that I’m going to get the part. Even if everyone else were to decline the role, production would (surely) hold new auditions before offering me the job. I was bad — real bad, and that’s cool, I guess. I feel fine about it now (as long as I never have to see the audition tape — **faint**). It was an experience… not the best experience, but, I still have my health and luckily my welfare did not depend on that audition (this girl is NOT about to quit her day job). All in all, sometimes we fail, but always we learn, and we move forward with the knowledge to help us succeed the next time around (oh hey, I found the moral of the story — that was it 🙂 ).

Break a leg!



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