Even the most seasoned actors battle with pre-audition nerves, but if acting is the path your child has chosen, then you’ll need to have some techniques up your sleeve to help them prepare for an audition. Because let’s face it, if they don’t impress the casting director then, they won’t land the role – it’s as simple as that.
Yes, it’s a nerve-racking process particularly for young children that may feel a little anxious about playing pretend in front of a roomful of grown-ups. But luckily for them (and for mums and dads), it’s something that you can work on so your child can deliver their lines without their mind going blank or worse, their voice seizing up – yes, it does happen!
Now as you probably know only too well, a good start is half the battle and knowing how to prepare for an audition is the best possible start you can have. Whether you’re an aspiring teen actor or a parent helping their child, our advice is the same – the more you prepare, the better your chances are.
And remember, for every unprepared child actor there are five prepped kids waiting in the wings to take their shot.
So with this in mind, we thought we’d offer a few tips on getting ready to wow the casting director at your next audition.
1. Read the entire play, screenplay or TV script
Learning the lines from the scene you or your child is performing in is the very least you should do to prepare for an audition. But if you want to make a good impression, it’s better to read the entire play or script so you can learn as much as you can about the character, even if they only have a short part in it. This should be easy enough for teenagers, but for younger kids, mums and dads may need to help out.
Read the play or script slowly and carefully to understand what’s happening, and how the character fits into the context of the whole story. This can give you invaluable insight into the character’s motivations and who knows, you might even enjoy it!
For older kids, being able to talk intelligently about the play, and their character will absolutely score some brownie points with the casting director if they happen to ask for an opinion. And if younger kids have a basic understanding of the storyline or the character’s role, the director will know that they have parents who are willing to go the extra mile to help their kid out.
2. Watch the film version or previous TV episodes
If the audition is for a play that has a film version or an existing TV show, then grab some popcorn and set aside an afternoon when you can sit down and watch them without distraction.
While reading the script can give great insight to both teen actors and parents, younger kids might benefit a bit more from an hour or two on the sofa with mum and dad. It gives everyone a better understanding of the story, and what may the casting director may expect at the audition. One thing to note, however, is to avoid mimicking previous actors. Instead, try to offer something different in the audition as it’s this (and not copycat acting) that will grab everyone’s attention.
For younger kids, mums and dads can ask their child how they would have done something differently to how they saw it acted out on screen. You’ll be surprised at how much fun an activity like this can be.
Older kids (and parents) can also check out the director’s past work, if they have previous film or TV credits, to get a handle on their particular style and what they might be looking for. It’s not essential to do so, but it could give you a slight edge in an audition.
3. Practice, practice, practice
Practice makes perfect, but it’s also great for getting rid of nerves and helping to boost confidence. Teen actors should prepare for an audition by practicing as much as possible, both alone and in front of friends and family. The feedback from an audience, however biased they might be, could help iron out any rough spots in a performance and make a real difference come audition day.
Of course, younger kids will need help to do this, and it’s extremely important that mum or dad can make themselves available to help as often as possible. While teen actors are often quite good at memorising their lines, younger children often need to learn their lines through repetition. So it’s essential that a grown-up is just as invested in the role as their child.
Teens might also enjoy workshopping their scene with a friend and trying it out a number of different ways. They should try a variety of emotions or even speaking styles so when it comes to audition day, they can show the director that they have plenty to offer.
A great idea for practicing regularly is to choose a suitable monologue and learn it off by heart. You never know when a casting director might ask a child to prepare one, so having it ready to go makes so much sense.
4. Practice in front of a camera
If the audition is for film or TV it will be filmed so it can be sent to the director and other members of the production team. But this doesn’t mean that there will be fewer people present. The audition room could be packed or it could be one person with a camera, you never know. This is why that practice in front of friends and family is so very important.
Now, to prepare for an audition for film or TV, set the scene by making a mock audition room or studio. There should be bright lights, a designated spot to stand on, and of course, a camera. Get plenty of practice delivering lines to the camera and watch every video made.
It helps a lot to see how the performance looks when captured on camera and kids will often take this opportunity to be critical of themselves and ask for a do-over. Seriously, kids are often tougher on themselves than their parents are which when you see it in person, is really inspiring. If only all of us adults had the same enthusiasm that kids do.
5. Dress appropriately & warm up
Look we know that teenagers might find it real tough to wear boring clothing that they don’t like, but it has to be done. Dress for the character but there’s no need to go overboard. For example, a shirt and pants for a role as a waiter is far preferable to a hoodie and tracksuit. You want to show that you’re making some kind of effort to align your outfit with the character and that will work in your favour at the audition.
Likewise, parents should dress their aspiring young actors in an appropriate manner. Overdoing it on cutesy outfits won’t make any difference to the casting director, but making sure they’re wearing clothes that suit the role will.
We also suggest that you decide on some form of warming up exercise for auditions. This could be anything from vocal warm ups to yoga stretches. Whatever gets your child relaxed and in the right frame of mind.
Hopefully these tips have given both teen actors and parents of child actors some insights on how to prepare for an audition. But remember, you may only get one chance to showcase your talents, so do as much preparation as you can and above all else, enjoy yourself.
If you want to learn more about auditioning, then you might want to take a look at our comprehensive guide to auditioning. It’s packed full on insider tips that we’ve picked up over the years.