Sometimes when you leave an audition, you practically float out the door knowing you’ve totally, unequivocally nailed it. Unfortunately, this was not one of those times. You blew it. Objectively, you know that bad auditions happen all the time to actors of all levels of talent and experience - heck, Peter Jackson even called Jake Gyllenhaal “the worst actor I have ever seen” after a brutally bad read for Frodo Baggins in Lord of the Rings. As universal as failure is, it’s still tough not to get bogged down when you swing and miss. Feeling like you should just throw in the towel and never show your face at a casting call again? Try these three things instead to get back on track.
Throw a Tiny Pity Party
First, you have permission to be gentle with yourself. It’s normal to be bummed out about a missed opportunity. If you need to take some time to nurse your wounds, there’s no shame in drawing a hot bath, slapping on a face mask, polishing off a carton of ice cream, Postmating a second carton of ice cream... well, you get the idea. Who are the people you can count on to love you unconditionally and let you vent for a minute? Call your mom, text your best friend, ask your partner for an extra-long hug. Sometimes a little attention and empathy are the best balms for the sting of rejection.
You came, you saw, you didn’t conquer, you cried a little. Now’s your chance to take this tough experience and use it as fuel to grow as an actor. After you’ve had some time to decompress and the pang of disappointment isn’t quite as sharp anymore, you’ll have some more clarity and can take a thoughtful look back on what went wrong. Once you pinpoint where things went awry, you can avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future. Did you keep the auditors waiting because of car troubles? Download a ride app and grab a copy of the local bus schedule to keep on your person just in case! Stumbled over your script? Check out Google and YouTube for some cold read memorization tips. Keep catching yourself fidgeting? Record yourself on your phone while you prepare and watch over for nervous tics, then practice moving more comfortably and carefully. Think of every rough audition as a learning experience that gives you new tools to hone your craft and soon you’ll be on your way to your next great role!
Get Back on the Horse
Not literally, obviously; it doesn’t have to be an audition for a Western (but if you hear the Coen brothers have anything new in the works, let me know). No, the final and most important step of recovering from a bad audition is putting yourself back out there. If Jake Gyllenhaal could do it, you can, too! You’ve given yourself some time to wallow, you’ve reviewed what went wrong, and you’ve made some concrete changes in your prep and planning. It’s time to let those newly-polished skills shine - you’ve totally got this.