What Do You Mean I Won't Book Every Project I Audition For?

"It’s VERY possible that you left that audition and the team consensually nodded their heads and agreed that you’re very talented, but not the puzzle piece this time."

By: Apr. 11, 2024
What Do You Mean I Won't Book Every Project I Audition For?
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Spencer Glass, career coach for actors and actor himself, dives deep into the reality of booking jobs, and coming to terms with the fact that actors can't be a fit for everyone and every piece. Check back monthly for more actor wisdom from Spencer! 

Even though I have made peace with the fact that I can’t snap my fingers and be taken seriously for every project under the sun…I STILL want to believe I’m right for every audition I go on.

As someone who helps actors craft their careers, and mentors artists to have a healthy relationship with the industry, I would be lying if I said that I don’t have moments where I pout over not getting a callback or not even getting the actual audition appointment itself. It’s weird because I can be so hard on myself and have moments where I severely limit my artistry, but then all of a sudden, I think I can be in every show ever written. Where is the balance, Spencer? I began to have a way more grounded lens on show business, when I started to lean into the idea that I’m not for everyone, I’m not for every project, and that is honestly ok.

What does it mean to not be for everyone?  When I first heard this, I immediately thought “Oh, a lot of people won’t find me talented.” Wrong. This actually just means that I can’t be everyone's favorite recipe. I really like chicken parmesan, but it’s not making my top 50 dishes. A creative can certainly vouch for my talent, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m their cup of tea as an artist. This feels similar to life outside of the arts. I’m slowly learning that not every person who meets me will fall madly in love with my personality and want to be around me 24/7. A phenomenon, right? It’s as if we forget that there are humans we interact with that aren’t our “vibe”, and probably won’t be the people we grab coffee with next week.

This isn't too different from show business. It’s actually essential to radically accept that my gifts won’t appeal to every industry professional. It’s important to wrap our heads around this idea because in reality, we need to allow ourselves the space to create fearless, individualized auditions full of insight and choices. Because, if I’m indeed not for everyone, at least I did my thing in that tape or in the room. I’ll see actors catering their auditions to what they “think the team wants.” It’s such a bummer when it doesn’t work out, because not only did you not move forward, you worried way more about an imaginary vision that you have no information about, and less about your version. 

But then, there’s the other inevitable, that we also aren’t right for every play/musical/tv show/movie imaginable. Plain and simple. Even when we think we’re so correct for a piece, give the audition of a lifetime, and have relationships with people on the team who fully receive our work…it doesn’t always mean the job is ours, and we’re now owed anything. This took me years to process.

You may find yourself called in for a certain show, time and time again, at different theaters. It becomes a piece that feels like a “shoe in”, whether you’ve booked it previously, or continue to get callbacks. However, you may audition for this show, SMASH your appointment, and then hear radio silence. Your ego feels a little bruised, right? Upon understanding that you won’t be going further with a show you feel SO right for, I can bet this is what your train of thought looks like. First it starts with the shock of the century.

“How did I not get a callback for this? I fit this world so well, and have been in final auditions at 100 different theaters for this show.” “It’s on my resume, and I know the material better than anyone!” We begin to drop our jaws in shock, and list every reason why we SHOULD be considered for said project.

Then we travel into the continent known as I’m untalented. We might find ourselves creating narratives about the audition, and completely bashing our hard work and talents; blaming ourselves for not getting a single callback. “I was so awkward in the room, and I’m sure they just thought I was weird.” “Now that I’ve taken a step back, maybe I didn’t sound good, and that final note was rusty”. “If I can’t get a callback for a show I constantly feel received by, then how will I get a callback for anything else?” Instantly, we start to annihilate the audition, our talents, and our career.

WAIT A MINUTE! STOP/BREATHE/HOLD ON. Nowhere in these conversations do we sweetly whisper to ourselves “maybe I just didn’t fit the vision”. Instead of taking a step back and zooming out for a hot second, maybe it would have occurred to us that the track we’re best suited for has very specific understudy coverage that isn’t right for us. Perhaps this production is a completely reimagined version that has uber specific needs. It’s VERY possible that you left that audition and the team consensually nodded their heads and agreed that you’re very talented, but not the puzzle piece this time around. As much as you want to know what they said about you after you left the room, it’s not going to help you, because nine times out of ten, it was things out of your control. 

So let’s discuss some things we should tell ourselves before and after auditions. Mindset and perspective are everything. 

  1. The casting process starts without the physical audition itself. There is specificity in casting and a breakdown for a character isn’t the full picture. There are production meetings, creative conversations, and tons of back and forths about what the vision is, and who they need to set the world of the piece. If I don’t even make it into the audition room, I’m ok with knowing that it just might not be my role this time around.

  2.  Things are always changing throughout the casting process. If you’re brought in once and don’t go further, it’s easy to ask oneself, “why bring me in if I wasn’t right?”. Auditioning is not cut and dry. A team can believe that you are potentially an answer, but once they put material on you, that could change. And you’re not less talented for that AT ALL.

  3. I always tell my clients to prepare accordingly for their auditions, because the real investment is that even when you aren't the match, you have a good chance of being filed away for other projects. Whether it’s casting, directors, music supervisors etc, creatives are sometimes working on 5 projects at once. Don’t be fooled- you might be auditioning for many things at once. Have a solid take on the character, because that gives industry folks a lot of information for other pieces they are covering.

Actors are vulnerable creatures. That’s why we’re so darn emotionally intelligent and talented. Our ability to connect is impressive. I always remind my clients to look at auditions like business. The more we can see how complex, complicated and out of our control casting is, the better our bandwidth becomes. The better our bandwidth becomes, the clearer and less anxious our auditions are.

Next time you don’t get a callback, book the gig or even receive the audition, I want you to a) feel the sting, because it’s important to honor what our bodies are telling us. But then I want you to b) just remember that we’re not for every single project, show biz human, etc…and we’re not mad at ourselves for that. And my gosh…when the project comes that IS ours, it’s going to feel so good. Stay aligned to the specificity and goals you have in your career, have a sense of humor about how insane this industry can be, and trust me, your job and moment is coming. I’m proud of you, actors.

What Do You Mean I Won't Book Every Project I Audition For?
Photo Credit: Katherine McManus Photography

Spencer Glass is a career coach for actors, and an actor himself, who has been seen off broadway at New York City Center, across the US on Broadway National Tours, and regionally at theatres around the country. You can book a career session with Spencer at www.Spencerglass.com, and follow for free tips and advice on his TikTok page, @Spencer.Glass, as well as his instagram, @Hispencerglass. His business, Spencer Glass Coaching, has clients working on broadway, national tours, tv & film etc. He has reached artists globally, and when he isn’t on stage/set, he’s guiding others and helping to create sharp and specified roadmaps for his clients’ career. Spencer is a multi-hyphenate who had two shows with BroadwayWorld (It’s The Day Of The Show Y’all & Ten Minute Tidbits), and has interviewed and performed with actors like Sheryl Lee Ralph, Eva NoblezadaDerek KlenaLaura Bell BundyGrey Henson, among others. 

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