You Are No Longer the Youngest Face in the Room.
Fearless. Ambitious. Nothing phases them. Nothing stops them. Such feelings are present in their eyes when they walk into the audition room. These artists are young and confident. They are fresh out of school or of their parents’ basement where moves and tunes were rehearsed in total secrecy. They are ready and willing to be put to the test; to deliver lines, hit notes, or spin on their heads if asked to. Hungry for exposure and experience, new talents come knocking at the industry’s doors year after year.
Newcomers are the youngest faces in the room and often have that “it factor.”
Every seasoned professional once was that young, intrepid performer. Since such confidence and a defiant look aren’t meant to last, what’s an artist to do when advancing in age and experience? How shall you walk in and approach an audition when you’re no longer the youngest face in the room?
Needing less recovery time after great physical efforts has its advantages, so does getting out of bed without feeling the stage that was hit and played on three times the day before. If those years feel like the time to stretch deeper and go for stronger, more demanding parts, the following ones shall not be over-looked nor seen as going downhill. Reading deeper into lines for a stronger character delivery, one closer to the creative team’s vision, is an ability that comes and grows with time and experience. Getting older is about collecting roles and credits, far more than wrinkles and bruises!
Rather than forcing their take on a character by letting their own personality take the room over, an experienced artist knows to quieten their ego in favor of the emotion and intention required by the character. Some casting directors refer to the first approach as enthusiasm, while others read such energy as a desperate need to get cast and give it all.
Enthusiasm is and should remain ageless for creative minds.
Such emotion is still palpable when some well-established performers come back for yet another encore. Understanding a part and how to relate to it, as well as bringing it to life with your strongest skills are precious abilities. Artists with a few years under their belts are more likely to possess them than “feet of flames” who walked in the room at the same time you did.
You’ve been here before and know that the audition starts the moment you walk in, not when your turn comes. Not being 20 anymore means a better knowledge of who you are and of what you are projecting, Hence, let them see you as you want to be seen, show that you are as ready and willing as “feet of flames.” Look up, eyes wide open, let them see you.
Perfectionism is a characteristic that all artists carry into the room. Therefore, use this better knowledge of who you are and of what a part demands to offer the perfect performance. Perfect on that day, at that moment. It ain’t about being perfect at all times and for every part. You’re not there to convince them that you can do it all and show all those other things that won’t serve the scene nor the production. Knowing when to hold back and a certain sense of secrecy can lead to them wanting to see you back for more and satisfy their curiosity regarding you other layers.
Bombshell and someone’s mom, golden boy and grumpy old man. That’s one way to look at the industry. A world that celebrates youth and respects its elders by allowing them to skip the audition process once a certain notoriety has been reached. That is where artists who don’t fit either description and the market connect: layers. You’ve been on tour, done the steady run, given classics a try, and attempted to create on your own. Each incarnation and every interpretation has allowed you to experiment and perfect your skills, making each layer thicker, more substantial in the process.
Some stages aren’t meant to welcome performers until they’ve reached a certain point in their career and can truly appreciate standing on them. Some parts aren’t meant to be played with a certain innocence, regardless of how beautiful it might be. There are productions that rely on artists who can do most of the work on their own and need less managing. Some venues don’t always have the luxury of time and prefer to book artists for whom this run won’t be their first rodeo. These are all scenarios where experienced performers have a leg up over newcomers.
Many will rightfully argue that roles are losing depth and don’t come as frequently as one ages. Women have been particularly vocal on this topic and many chose to address it by turning obstacle into opportunity. Knowing where to look for it and creating your own are two additional abilities that you have over someone who’s still familiarizing themselves with the industry.
Experience and having walked through many doors means having met all kinds of people and a better understanding of their tastes and expectations. Going back to those who believed in you can save you time, energy, and perhaps fill a hole in your calendar. Those on whom you’ve made a good, lasting impression already know that there is more to you than what might happen in an audition.
Experience and maturity also help to recognize that this might not have been your very best and give you the confidence to calmly ask for another try, an extra moment of their time right there and then. Whatever happens, happens, but this is your time and you deserve to make the most out of it.
There also comes a time when you perhaps should no longer be asking for a spot but creating your very own.
That is how many artists created their own project, show, or company. Young and unknown talents need to pay their dues, be seen, hear many “Nos”, try, and try again before getting known and taken seriously. You’ve already earned credibility and proven yourself by doing so. You are the industry’s middle child, somewhere between the babies and eldest. You may no longer be up for too many two-show days, but you still got the energy. You don’t have an answer to everything, but you certainly have the ideas and creativity to come up with solutions and ways to inspire others.
If waiting to be called is turning the fun of the unknown and being surprised into anxiety and anticipation, if giving a voice to others’ ideas is making you lose your own, it might be time to make the calls and put your ideas first. By combining all previously cited abilities, you can stand out to express what you really want. By going on different tracks and playing different parts on stages as varied as the locations in which you did so, you know what moves you and, most importantly, what really moves an audience. You’re the one who has locked eyes with them night after night, not those who sign the checks.
You no longer are the youngest face in the room, which means that you hopefully know by now that it ain’t all about you.
You can leave the room feeling like you’ve nailed it and still not get the part. An experienced, less self-conscious performer knows that there is no point in beating themselves up nor resenting the casting director for turning them down. You know how many factors come into play and that you have no power on most.