There are many theories and opinions out there about whether an actor should walk into the audition room in character or not. Some actors have told me that a coach they worked with had been adamant that they should walk into the room in character, and another coach had advised them against that. Confusion about this seemed to dominate their whole audition process, and they were defeated about their audition before they could even walk into the Casting Directors office fearing they were making the wrong choice.
I always say that part of the fear an actor experiences while waiting in the lobby of the audition room before the audition is, “the fear of the unknown”. They become anxious because they don’t know what lies beyond the audition door. What does the room look like? How many people are in the room? Is there a camera in the room? Are the powerful people behind that door in good moods or bad?
You made it into the audition room successfully without tripping and are focused and ready to go with your choices. And then…(a) the Casting Director decides to chat a bit; (b) no one looks up at you; (c) they ask, “Do you have any questions?”
Thinking back over the thousands of actors who stood in front of me before they began their audition, the one’s I remember most are the one’s who walked in and said “Hi Holly!” I know that seems obvious and simplistic, but it always surprised me when an actor would walk into the audition room looking like a deer in the headlights and say “Hi”, and I knew they didn’t have a clue as to who I was. Or worse they would say, “Nice to meet you”, and I had auditioned them ten times before. Casting Directors are people too (I know…hard to fathom), and it goes a long way when you call them by name and have educated yourself as to what they have previously cast.
You can do anything for three minutes. That’s what I tell the actors in my audition workshops. Just like the focused athlete walking onto the field, diving into the pool, or stepping onto the mound, the actor must achieve a certain mental mindset.
Holly Powell formed the idea for her four-week audition workshops back when she was still casting. She had seen the audition world from three sides—as an independent casting director, as senior vice president of talent and casting at the Greenblatt Janollari Studio, and as director of casting CBS New York and then director of casting CBS Los Angeles movies and miniseries.