What It Means to “Be Yourself” In an Audition
Have you ever been told to “just go into the audition and be yourself?” I know I have. My immediate reaction is “YEAH” with an internal fist in the air like John Bender at the end of The Breakfast Club or this Target manager who gave a marvelously inspiring Black Friday speech.
My instinct is to go into “beast mode” and channel my inner Beyonce. Yet, that moment of unwavering confidence is accompanied by another thought…what does “being me” mean? Of course, I know what I sound like, my repertoire, what roles I’ve learned, and my strengths and weakness. I can even recite verbatim what is on my resume. But what does “being yourself” in an audition REALLY mean?
Here is what I’ve learned.
- Be UNAPOLOGETICALLY you.
This means DO NOT say SORRY. Walk in with confidence and stay focused. Practice telling yourself I will not apologize for my performance. This includes both saying “sorry” out loud or acting as if you don’t belong there. You make a mistake, so what? Even the “greats” have messed up in an audition and still got to where they are. The point is you don’t let it bring you down long enough to ruin the rest of your audition. Dignified self-assurance is attractive and makes you stand out.
- Play to your strengths.
If you know your strength is acting, bring it out in your audition. If you know your strength is the 8-bar melismatic passage in the B section of your aria, sing that melisma like it’s your job. If you’ve got low notes for days, CHEST it. An audition isn’t meant to be perfection, it is potential. I’ll say it AGAIN, an audition is NOT meant to be perfection, it is POTENTIAL. This means that casting agents, directors, etc. are looking for what you have to offer and what they can work with. Relish in your strengths and show them off.
- Dress as your professional self.
First impressions are important. Before you open your mouth, people make assumptions of you. I used to watch the show “What Not to Wear” on TLC with Stacy London. I LOVED that show. It talked about what kind of statement you want to make when you first meet people. A lot can be said about your outfit choice, so choose with purpose.
In the opera world, conservative attire (meaning skirts/dresses down to at least the knee, minimal cleavage, and covered shoulders) is expected. While for musical theatre auditions, the outfits tend to be more casual and at times slightly more revealing. I recommend sticking to those expectations, but also show a little bit of you in your outfit. For example, if you need to have a conservative dress for an opera audition…why not buy a green or red dress? I have a black dress that fits perfectly, except it’s not very eye-catching–add a necklace or some earrings. For guys, wear your favorite pair of stylish dress shoes or a colorful tie. These tiny details will have directors remembering you and might even spark a conversation. So add some color or sparkle and let your appearance reflect you in a sophisticated and inviting way.
There are so many other audition tips on etiquette and repertoire, but it should never be that you lose yourself in the mix. Stay true to who you are and if you aren’t sure of what that is yet, it’s time to explore that. Because you as a person reflects who you are as an artist.