Student Blog: Anxiety in Auditions and Finding Your Strong Suit

Being authentically yourself is more important than being perfect.

Student Blog: Anxiety in Auditions and Finding Your Strong Suit
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I was never nervous about auditions until I got into high school. I didn't really have a sense of stakes, I wasn't in any theaters that cut actors in the audition process, and I was consistently getting leading roles. However, once I entered the world of competition and professionalism as a teenager, my anxiety kicked in incredibly quickly. I would notice my knees shaking during singing auditions, constant fear that I might not be memorized enough for a part, and sickening embarrassment when practicing skills I wasn't the best at.

Recently, as I started thinking back on all this audition anxiety, I noticed a trend. Whenever I was too scared to stand proud during an audition call, it was because I was trying to fit in with all the very poised and perfect people I heard or saw before me in an audition room that was never friendly. I'd get thrown off by a singular person using my same ballad choice, or by a couple girls in the waiting room looking vaguely like me. I'd get uneasy about both wanting to fit in and stand out, trying to give everything I could offer without looking too "strange" or "different" from what I thought the director wanted to see. It was becoming a serious problem for me in audition rooms, so I figured the only way I could move away from this anxiety was being authentically myself.

It didn't take me long in my life and career to notice that I am a character actor. My acting has always been exaggerated, my singing full of volume and precise diction, and my dancing as graceful as a whale walking a tightrope. Despite knowing all this, I tried doing terrifyingly formal auditions for very pristine and classic characters with little to no musical features. Keep in mind that, although a stretch from usual material can be great, you still have to stay true to yourself. And perfect ballet, strict posture, and no music? That wasn't something I could make believeable for any director, and it certainly wasn't authentically me. When I realized that this was the problem, I skillfully narrowed down the casting calls I was applying to. Instead of going to ten auditions and feeling terrifyingly wrong for every role in most of them, I went to three that I felt confident I would enjoy. After all, if the audition process was something l felt awful about, the show likely wouldn't feel much less uneasy. Rethinking the types of audition environments I was volunteering myself for felt so much better, and the ones I started going to after my setback allowed me to use skills I never thought I could share, such as puppetry, playwriting, and impressions.

Feeling good about what I'm doing is now always my first step in auditions, and in my free time I continuously build on the skills I may not be comfortable in now but want to showcase in the future. I've been in dance lessons every week so that dancing can become my strong suit too, and I'll be well-rounded in auditions moving forward. I'm extremely grateful for every opportunity that comes my way, but I'm also grateful that I've gained the internal freedom to step away from an opportunity too. Desperation only made me nervous, and those shows were never the right fit. I'm not perfect, and it took me a long time to know that other people in these rooms weren't either- they were just utilizing their own strengths. Now that I've found how to use my unique skills to my advantage, I'm starting to feel more confident in auditions than ever before, and I couldn't be more excited about the future to come.


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