I don’t know about you, but when my audition nerves kick in, they feel uncontrollable.
My hands shake, my throat dries up, and everything seems terrifying. In fact, years ago, there were many times I was so scared that I walked out of auditions before ever even going in.
Then, I had that one audition that changed my life forever.
I skrelched so severely on the final note of my song that the director actually yelled, and I quote: “Oh, God! Stop! That was terrible! If you aren’t able to sing the hell out of the song, why did you do it? That was sh*t!” (end quote)
I swear, even writing that down now puts me right back there in that humiliating moment as if it were yesterday. (Luckily, that was well over 25 years ago.) #timehealseverything
I realize that you might be feeling all the feels right now.
“That horrible director!”
“I feel so bad for you, Leslie.”
“What an a*s*ole.”
Trust me… those things crossed my mind later. But in the moment, I was humiliated, embarrassed, and mortified. I felt like I would never be able to show my face again… ever! That day changed my life forever, because it felt like my dreams were done.
So, as I sat curled up on the floor next to my bed crying in rather dramatic fashion, suddenly something snapped in me. It was almost as if I were outside of my body, looking at myself sitting on that floor crying, and I thought, “Whoa! What are you doing? You’ve gotta turn this around!” Like a lightning bolt, I suddenly stopped crying and realized I had two choices.
CHOICE 1: I could let that horrible moment make me quit the business and never go to another audition again (which, trust me, is what I felt like doing in the moment).
CHOICE 2: I could find something good about it and USE IT!
And in the next moment, I started to laugh. Uncontrollable laughter. Seriously. I went from sobbing to laughing in a #nanosecond.
In the laughter, I was able to realize, “WHOA! That was really, really bad. But if I could survive THAT, I can survive anything!”
And guess what happened?
I was never afraid again. Seriously.
That one audition was so horrific that it truly cancelled out any audition that might come after it. So now (and for many years), I thank that guy every time I walk into an audition room because he gave me a gift. In that moment, I knew I had what it takes to make it in this business… for the long haul.
So, while I don’t wish ANY audition story like that for you (or anyone), I DO WISH for you — a moment in time when you make a choice to take a situation that seems IMPOSSIBLE to get over and turn it into a magical TRIUMPH.
Because THAT is what it takes to be an actor. It takes the bravery to stand tall in your own skin, put yourself out there in the most vulnerable of ways and roll with the punches when they come.
And I’m not gonna lie, it feels really good when many years later, after 10 Broadway and National Tour productions and 50+ regional gigs, you can show yourself what you’re really made of. #BOOM
If you need some tips on how to work through your audition nerves, download my FREE CHEAT SHEET.
Audition Nerve Knockout: 5 Ways to Obliterate Audition Nerves
Leslie Becker is a Broadway actress, Billboard artist and best-selling author of The Organized Actor®. Since 1994, her teachings have empowered thousands of actors to be strong individuals so the highs and lows of the industry are balanced by a strong belief in themselves. As an actress, she has appeared in 10 Broadway and National Tour productions, and she has starred in over 50 regional shows. She is the host of the Facebook Group Organized Actor Alliance and offers free tips for actors at www.OrganizedActor.com.