The Callback

The most important thing for an actor to remember in a “callback” is to be consistent. The Casting Director “called you back” after your pre-read audition, because they liked what you did in the room with them. All too often, an actor will get excited about a callback and will go home and work on it and change things. When the actor comes to the callback with all their new ideas, they are unrecognizable to the Casting Director. The actor has changed the original choices they made that got them called back in the first place. So, consistency is key.

Holly Powell leads actors through the callback process.

If an actor gets a callback and the casting director has given them no notes, the actor should not think of the “how”, but the “what”. Don’t try to remember “how” you said the line that the casting director laughed at, but think back to the beginning of the scene… What do you want, Where are you, Who are you talking to, and What happened the moment before the scene starts… “The 4 W’s”.

Part of the problem with the callback is that the job gets closer. So, the actor starts mentally focusing on thoughts like: “I hope I get this job”; “I want to please my agent”; “I won’t have to move back to my hometown if I book this job”, etc. Mentally focusing on sabotaging thoughts interferes with the job of the actor. The job of the actor is to mentally focus on what is going on in the scene… Where am I, Who am I taking to and how do I feel about this person, What do I want, and What just happened the moment before the scene starts.

The callback is usually in a different, larger room from the pre-read room. There are more people in the room (the Producers and possibly the Director) and there may be a camera in the room for taping the audition. Nerves can come from the “fear of the unknown”…how many people are in the room, how large is the room, is there a camera in the room, etc. The chair is the one familiar object from an actor’s living room to the audition room. I ask actors to “spy the chair” and connect with it in some way to help ground themselves as they take control of the room. Also, an actor can take control of the room by making sure they know who they are reading with. They may have read with a casting assistant in the pre-read and may now not recognize anyone in the room. So, asking “Who will I be reading with?”, allows the actor to take charge. If the callback happens to be in a really large room, the actor should refrain from trying to fill the space vocally, because they will come off as “theatrical”. When auditioning for television, never let the size of the room and the number of people in the room lure you into being too theatrical or pushing too hard. The actor should take a few seconds before they begin the scene to touch base with: Where am I, Who am I talking to, What do I want, and What just happened.

In my video “The Callback” (you can view this video by going to, you can see two of my wonderful students doing their “mock” callback in class. Watch how the first actress, Kaitlyn Reed, takes her few seconds before she begins the scene to visualize where she is and who she is talking to. By taking those few seconds before she starts the scene, the viewer is already pulled into watching her and wondering what’s on her mind. The task Kaitlyn has, is that the scene is with a guy who she is attracted to, and yet she has to read it with me, a female. Kaitlyn is doing a great job visualizing a very specific person that she is having dinner with in the scene, and the viewer soon forgets that a female casting director is reading the other lines.

The second actor, Ben Stillwell, also does a great job visualizing the space so clearly. The task Ben has, is that three different people talk to him in the scene, yet the casting director is reading all the parts. He has three very different relationships going on in the scene… this girl he is attracted to, her Mother, and a nurse. Watch how Ben’s visualizations of each different person he speaks to changes, so when watching the actor on tape, the viewer really believes that he is speaking to three different people.

Please don’t ever go to an audition to get the job! If you do, your mental focus will be on wanting the job, not doing your job as an actor today. Even if the casting director thinks you may not be right for this particular part that they are casting, they will remember you for future projects! This is your chance to act today… Your 3 Minute One-Person Show! That’s why you go to the audition.

And remember, the key to repeating an audition is consistency. And mentally focusing on the 4 “W’s” before you start your audition, will save you every time!

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