I recently had a commercial audition where I was asked to tell a story about the importance of family.
That was it. The whole audition was just a little, lighthearted, fun story.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Well, it was, except I committed one major commercial auditioning faux pas.
For a commercial!
And when I say I cried, I mean the ugly kind of crying where I snotted all over my face and my whole body trembled.
It was heartfelt and relatively uplifting happywarm crying. But...snot.
I had just watched Bill Coelius’s “10 Secrets to Become a Booking Machine” webinar the night before the audition, so I knew I was supposed to keep the story short (and fun! and light!), but I got so caught up, that I just couldn’t reign it all in.
I cried and I talked too long. So, really, that’s two auditioning no-nos.
I walked out of the room knowing I’d blown it. Who cries in a commercial audition unless it’s for engagement rings or babies.
This was neither. You're gonna want to sit down for this.
It was for a bank. Yes. A BANK!! I bet no one else has ever cried fun, “commercial friendly” tears over a bank (and I should know – I worked in sales & trading for J.P. Morgan for 18 years).
I couldn’t let this audition fail go, and I replayed it over and over in my mind. But the more I analyzed “what happened,” I started to realize something pretty magical.
I was totally me in that room.
Yes, I went on too long, and yes I cried, but I didn’t hold anything back either. I didn’t second-guess myself or try to stop the madness. I was fully in the moment.
And that’s what books commercials – actors playing “real people” (aka themselves).
But that’s also where the wheels fall off for most actors.
Because of fear.
Most actors I’ve coached fear that they’re not enough. So, for them, having to be themselves in front of the camera – with no script to hide behind– is a terrifying proposition.
Suddenly, a great commercial audition gets infused with the underlying belief that tells the camera you don’t think you’re worthy of this job… that just being you isn’t enough.
So what are you supposed to do? How do you get comfortable in your own skin?
A lot of actors think they’ll gain self-confidence when they book more work. As if booking a job means they’re worthy.
That’s a vicious cycle of backward thinking. That means the industry is defining you, and other people are telling you how to feel about yourself.
Self-certainty needs to come from within. Self-certainty is the opposite of self-doubt, which means you’re comfortable just being you, and you’re in charge of how you feel.
It’s really about identifying who you actually are.
And I don’t mean things like you love hiking, ladybugs and being with friends. It’s the you on the inside – your core qualities that drive the way you move through the world.
In fact, knowing your core qualities is like having a sixth sense because you know, understand and expect the WHY behind everything you do. That’s empowering because you suddenly know you’re worthy of showing yourself – the real you – to the world.
So here’s the burning question. Do you really know you? Can you articulate the exact qualities that dictate the ways you think, feel and behave?
No? Then you’re making a big mistake, and you’re missing the most important tool in your auditioning arsenal.
Your real self.
When you’re comfortable in your own skin, it shows. And as it turns out, it shows even when you’re snot-crying, because I got a callback for that commercial.
I didn’t end up booking it, but I know those decisions are out of my hands.
The only thing we actors can control in this industry is ourselves.
In fact, our whole job as actors (in addition to being on time, prepared, etc.) is to bring our authentic and best selves to the room, or to set, every single time. Snot and all.