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HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
I like to watch educational videos on YouTube whenever I workout. Sometimes, I binge watch MarieTV with Marie Forleo.
One day, I watched her interview with Brendon Burchard about his book High Performance Habits, when he said something that sounded totally crazy to me: if you want to be a high performer, you should talk to yourself.
Wait, what?! I already look like I'm talking to myself when I spontaneously run lines in public, and nobody thinks it's cute!
I'm sure you've heard that talking to yourself is a sign that you might be going cray-cray. Not so anymore, Actor Boss! In fact, you should talk to yourself before and after every audition so that you can audition with confidence.
Don't lie, you probably are talking to yourself already. However, if you want to know how to have more confidence in auditions, we need to make sure you're saying the best things to yourself to curb any unnecessary negative self-talk. What I'm sharing in this post isn't just my opinion--it's backed by science.
The High Performance Institute by Brendon Burchard now has the research to show that coaching yourself in the second person can increase your high performance, as mentioned in his interview with Marie Forleo.
Remember, this blog post is the follow-up to the Technique to Let Go of an Audition, but we'll sandwich that technique between your self-coaching sessions.
So here's the high-level overview:
If that seems like a lot, just know that it gets easier the more you do it. The truly meaningful parts of this process will surface when you need them. Commit to rehearsing the coaching I have listed in this post at least once for practice.
In this post, I'll show you how I apply these steps specifically in terms of auditions. While the credit for this technique belongs 100% to Burchard, I'll give you the exact fill-in-the-blank coaching I use for myself as an actor. Try it out loud.
The goal is to become a high performer when you audition. Merriam-Webster defines high performance as being better, faster, or more efficient than others. Don't you want that in your auditions?! I know I do, not even to be better than others, but to be better than I currently am.
Auditioning is this totally weird beast that feels so different than breaking down a script and taking a long journey with your scene partner. I'm still working on it and probably always will be. Well, technically I heard that at some point you stop auditioning and just get asked if you want a role.
If you're acting for the love of your craft, then you'll need this proven method to help you increase your high performance in auditions. It's not specifically for auditioning, but it can be used in any area that you want to increase high performance. So not only will this help your acting career, you can use it to help other aspects of your life as well.
1. SELF-COACH BEFORE THE AUDITION
Before each audition, what if you could:
Remember when I mentioned talking to yourself? Coach yourself in the second person. Pretend that you've sat yourself down and hired yourself to be your own personal coach.
For example, I would say, "Spurgeon, when you do this audition, you want to be...."
Now the fun can begin. You'll need to personalize this based on your goals, but I'll give you an example of my self-coaching so you have somewhere to start. Screenshot this to keep in your phone until you can do it from memory if you drive to your auditions.
Self-Coaching Example (before audition):
"Spurgeon, you've done the work already. You know your lines, you've broken down the script, and you left in plenty of time to be there early. Now you can focus on your objective. The casting directors are for you. They're looking for someone to serve their need of booking this role. They picked you out of a pile of headshots, so be thankful for that. Remember to have fun and be intentional with everyone you speak to. You thrive in a challenging environment, which is one of the reasons you love acting, so go enjoy this challenge."
Let's look at how you can personalize this method. Answer these five questions in regards to an audition.
5 Questions to Create Your Self-Coaching Breakdown:
1. Am I stressed right now, and if so why?
Coach your way out of stress by stating the facts. For example, "Traffic is crazy, but I left on time to be early." It's important that you stick to the facts so that you don't let your brain wander off into the crazy land of insecurities and negative self-talk.
If you hear yourself saying that you're stressed about something that you can't control, that also needs to be addressed. In my example, I couldn't control traffic patterns, but I could control how early I left.
You can also control how much you plan ahead by putting your destination into an app like Waze the night before to make sure you arrive on time. Just be sure to check it again for traffic updates the next day.
2. How do I feel about the casting director?
Find something positive to say about them to create a feeling of connection. If you've read for a particular casting director more than once, then you know them well enough to know if there's something you like about them. For example, you could say, "Stacy is always upbeat, so I know she'll be encouraging even if I mess up for some reason."
You can also use the statement I mentioned in my example. Casting directors want you to succeed, especially if they're placing you in front of a client. It makes them look good! Even if you don't book that specific job, they'll be thankful that you showed up prepared.
3. Am I thankful for this audition?
Express gratitude that you got the audition in the first place. You never know what one booking may lead to. Seriously, it only takes one booking to make a huge difference.
While my hubby and I were driving to my birthday trip this year, my mom called. During that conversation, she asked me how things were going with my acting career. Then she told me about an interview she saw with Kevin Bacon.
He said something along the lines of (paraphrasing from my mom here), "I can't believe all the crazy things I had to do to find jobs when I first started acting, but then I booked this one role, and it was like dominoes from there. That one role started getting me attention and phone calls."
ONE! JUST ONE! So what if this audition is the one? So what if it's for some random non-union regional internet commercial that doesn't pay residuals? It might be that you meet a key person that connects you to a bigger job.
Let's chat about that. I was an extra in a SAG-AFTRA golf commercial once. At the very end of the day during sign outs, I ended up in line with an actor I'd never seen or heard of. Apparently, he's in an upcoming feature film starring Dewayne Johnson. When I asked him how he got the job, do you know what he said?
"I worked on some random documentary, and one of the crew members I met referred me to this movie, and that was that."
Did you hear what I just said? This guy worked on a documentary. Documentaries are cool and all, but I know that as an actor you're not chomping at the bit to be in a documentary. But because this guy was grateful for an opportunity, he went and made the best of it. Then he got a reference that led to him being in an upcoming box office movie--with Dewayne Johnson!
The hard truth is that most of the auditions and bookings you initially get are not the ones you actually want. If you aren't careful, you'll start to hate those opportunities, but that's what they are because you never know what might happen next. So start expressing gratitude on the way to your auditions. It will change your perspective.
4. How do I want to feel?
State the exact feelings or state-of-mind you want to have when you enter the room or start a self-tape. If it's an upbeat role, tell yourself that you want to have fun. If it's something dramatic, then tell yourself that you're about to bite your reader's head off during your audition, and you don't give a crap how they feel about it. Although, you should definitely be nice after the read.
How do you want to interact with everyone in the lobby? If you want to be social, then tell yourself to ask people thoughtful questions and smile. Maybe you need to protect your heavy mental and emotional state, though. If so, then tell yourself that it's ok for you to ignore everyone in order to protect your work. Remind yourself that everyone else is in the same situation, and they get it.
5. Why am I doing this?
Remind yourself of why you're an actor in the first place. Side note: if your answer is "to be famous," then it's time to reconsider your why because that won't be enough to push you through the rejection or enjoy the actual work you'll need to do as an actor. Yes, actors actually do work.
You need to see past this specific audition to your future goals. I don't just mean to visualize what you want, but think about how getting what you want would make you feel. That's key. Now, how is this audition a small step toward that feeling? Once you view each audition that way, they become less stressful and more exciting!
2. USE THE RELEASE TECHNIQUE POST-AUDITION
If you haven't seen the actor's guide to using this technique, pop over to this blog post. You'll find a link back to this post for step three. I have more details and ideas in the full blog post, but the gist of this step is to breathe deeply and repeat the word, "Release, release, release."
3. SELF-COACH AFTER THE RELEASE TECHNIQUE
Self-coaching after the audition is so important to help you finish letting go of it so you can move on with your life that day. At this point, you need to self-coach using the second person POV once again.
Self-Coaching Example (after audition):
"Spurgeon, you did your best in the moment. You're thankful for this opportunity. The one takeaway you can apply to your next audition is to ask a more specific question if you're confused about a note because it never hurts to ask. You can leave this audition behind you now because you no longer have control over what happens. Now it's time to listen to a podcast and transition into learning mode."
5 prompts to formulate your second coaching session:
1. Complement yourself.
Find something to be happy about from your audition. Anything! If your hair looked good, then say that to yourself. If you said your lines word-for-word, that counts. Find something good to dwell on about the audition so that you can remind yourself to think about that if you slip off into negative self-talk.
2. Express gratitude.
Yep! We're doing it again! Remember that not everyone in the world has the freedom to chase after their dream of being an actor. The arts are typically the first subjects to get cut from school funding, and citizens in impoverished areas only have the capacity to think about surviving.
I've personally chatted with a high school girl in a foreign country who thought it was amazing that I wanted to be an actor. She desperately wanted to be a visual artist, but per her government's regulations, her parents were required to declare her school track when she entered the 7th grade. They picked medical and science so she could learn how to be a doctor.
The fact that I can personally decide that I want to go audition, much less go do it, makes me such a happy camper. I hope you see how valuable that freedom is after hearing that story. I try to express gratitude at least once after each audition. I hope you do, too.
3. Give yourself a director's note.
What one constructive tip can you take action on next time? Hey, I said constructive. That means you can take action on it and see a different result. Tell yourself that tip so that you'll remember it next time.
4. Tell yourself to let it go.
Remind yourself that it's over. Tell yourself to let it go because it's now currently out of your hands, and that is the truth! There's literally nothing else you can do about it. Even if you're self-taping, you know that submission is G-O-N-E once you hit submit on Actor's Access.
5. Transition to the next thing.
Have a podcast or music playlist ready to go for the ride home. Which will you choose? Comment and share! I do not recommend that you sit in silence at this point. Distract yourself after you finish coaching yourself (out loud, remember?) because you'll keep thinking about it if you don't do something else.
If you need to, write down your self-coaching statements to read aloud to yourself until you know what to say. You can also record these prompts and replay them in the car, but I still recommend that you coach yourself out loud in the moment.
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HEY ACTOR BOSS,
I'm a screen actor and certified goals coach focused on helping other screen actors that are not yet a household name achieve their most urgent goal.