Theatrical Auditions vs. Commercial Auditions

Is there a difference between theatrical auditions vs commercial auditions?  Apparently, there are actors out there that feel there is little to no preparation necessary for commercial auditions. I often see actors talking to one another, looking at their phone, and the best to date, cleaning out their purse in the lobby while waiting to audition for a commercial.

theatrical auditions vs commercial auditions

However, at theatrical auditions, it’s rare for actors to make eye contact, let alone speak to one another. Presumably, they are working on their script, making substitutions, preparing mentally and physically for the upcoming audition.

I have been auditioning for 38 years in Los Angeles for television, film, and commercials and I do the same prep for all three. It is my firm belief that acting is acting and preparation is a part of my toolkit. Who, what, where and why are the questions I always ask and then dig further for more info to personalize as much as I can with the time allotted.

  • Who am I talking to? Who is this person to me? How do I feel about them right now? What is our history?
  • What is my motive? What is my objective? What do I want from this person? What is my point of view? What am I feeling right now about the situation?
  • Where am I? Have I been here before? What do I see around me? Identify something that I can focus on and create the 4th wall.
  • Why am I saying what I am saying? (I must identify a reason for speaking.) Is what I’m saying important? Why am I not saying anything? Why am I present in this situation?

When I ask myself these questions and make decisions, I feel equipped to fully commit to the text and the scene as a whole. If asked to do it another way, which is almost always the case, I am ready with options and choices because I have thought about it and rehearsed it several different ways. I am able to take the direction and employ it with ease.

I would much rather leave an audition with the feeling I have given it my all and left them with a sense of who I am, than kick myself in the car all the way up the 405, wishing I had prepared.

From my interviews with casting, their number one complaint about actors is that they are not prepared. They often say the actor who gets picked or called back is always the one who comes in with a solid choice. It may not always be the choice they had in mind, but they made a choice and backed it up with thought and conviction. These are the actors who c consistently work, because they take the craft seriously.

Editor’s Note: Judy Kain has been a professional actress for 38 years, showcasing her skills and talents in over 375 commercials and over 90 film and television roles.  She is a published author of the book I BOOKED IT! The Commercial Actors Handbook and is the founder of Keep it Real Acting Studios. Her more notable credit include Mad Men, The Odd Couple, Modern Family, The Middle, Bones, Castle, Scrubs, Desperate Housewives, ER, Seinfeld, The District, The West Wing, NYPD Blue, Friends, and The Drew Carey Show just to name a few. Learn more about theatrical auditions vs commercial auditions by visiting Judy’s page. 

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