We are told to bring ourselves to the role. And no matter what, your preparation has to work for you. However there are three things I often see that can interfere with an actor’s process.
1. Memorizing. This is something that so many actors focus on and can take away from the performance. No one will book a job simply because they are word-perfect; it’s about the essence and what you bring to the role. When you get caught up in the words you limit what you want to do with them. What is their meaning? What’s behind them? What is your intention when speaking them? Some actors prefer to memorize first then run the scene countless times until the scene becomes clear. However with the pace that film and TV auditions move at, I have found that approach can be shaken. I encourage actors to learn their lines. Let them be real to you first. How would you say them? What's your point of view? Where would you pause when we aren’t expecting it? Let them sink into your body as you learn them, instead of just in your mind.
2. Being the breakdown. I see a lot of actors fall into the trap of only going by what the breakdown says, which limits and confines choices. I suggest you read the material, do your research, and then after you have exhausted all aspects of understanding the sides, then make your choices based off what you know to be true and not just what the breakdown has told you to be.
You also need to be aware of what you naturally bring to a role. If the breakdown is: Beth Grandt works for the FBI. Guarded and reserved, Beth has had to fight her way to get where she is in life. She is usually the only woman in a world dominated by the boys. With that, I know that part of the work I will need to do is to find her softer side and vulnerability as I already will bring a strength to any character I play.
3. Playing a guessing game. Similar to basing your choices off the breakdown, there can be a habit of trying to guess what they are looking for instead of bringing what only you can to the role. If you do exactly what’s written on the page and then are trying to be the breakdown, then where are you in the role? There are of course exceptions—what I call the cookie-cutter auditions where your job is to do what’s written simply, easily, and move the story along.
I know my ongoing clients fairly well and we love the process of finding what they personally can bring to a role; what speech patterns, ticks, moments, or movement we can use that is unique to them.
I love the art of auditioning because it can be challenging in so many ways.
But there is one key to cracking that code: you.