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The Essentials

Performers Bella Ramsey, Laura Donnelly, Rob Brydon, Toheeb Jimoh and Asim Chaudhry share their preparation tips for auditions

At this year’s CDG Awards, we caught up with some of the performers who guest-presented to ask them how they prepare for auditions and self-tapes.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. Read the scenes you’re given

Before an audition, you should thoroughly read any sides you’re given to pick up clues about the mood of the scene. Bella Ramsey (The Last of UsGame of Thrones) does exactly that and notes, “You often don’t get the whole script initially, so figuring out the tone of the scene is the first thing.”

2. Prepare, and then relax

Toheeb Jimoh (Ted Lasso) gets ready for auditions by doing as much preparation as he can, but caveats that, “Prep usually depends on how much time I have.” He suggests, “[starting with] the go-to stuff like objectives [and] obstacles.”

To help you create your character and understand what motivates them, think about what they want or need, and what’s standing in the way of reaching that objective. How does this influence your character’s actions and emotions?

Laura Donnelly’s (The NeversThe FerrymanOutlander) advice is to “Begin the work as soon as you can.” She continues, “The more sleep I have on it, [the more] you can be relaxed going into the room.” She adds that if you’re short on time when it comes to submitting a self-tape, do as much preparation as you can but “Relaxation is the key [so that] you can be fresh and improvise and hopefully do something different” when you’re recording.

Before stepping into an audition room, listening to music can help set your mood. Harry Trevaldwyn (The BubbleThe King) works this into his pre-audition routine and says, “I’ll listen to Pink or something peppy.” Music can also be helpful for controlling performance nerves – something a lot of the Spotlight Prize finalists spoke about when we asked them how they deal with pre-performance jitters.

Listen to our pre-audition meditation to help you feel calm and confident before going into the room.

3. Bring yourself the part

“Depending on what the project is, you get a sense or a vibe of the character,” says Toheeb Jimoh, “and then the rest is just bringing myself to it.” This is something Bella Ramsey agrees on. When it comes to auditions she adds, “I try to bring myself to it. It has to feel like it’s coming from within me rather than I’m trying to force it.”

4. Be inspired by other performers

When it comes to self-taping, Rob Brydon confesses, “I’m not very good at it,” but suggests watching Hugh Laurie’s legendary self-tape for House for inspiration. Brydon says, “I think that’s the holy grail of self-tapes. You look at that and you see how much he’s giving it. He’s not jumping through hoops, but he’s doing it.”

Take a look at our advice and tips about self-taping, if you need any help.

5. Believe in yourself and show what you can do

Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Invisible ManThe Haunting of Hill House) thinks that when it comes to auditions and self-tapes, “[the] most important thing is for actors to believe in what they do and present that.” He continues, “It doesn’t really matter what the character is or what you think they’re looking for, do what you would do. It might not be right, it might not be what they [casting directors] want, but at least you can stand by the work that you give out there.”

Be confident and believe in yourself – take a look at these tips for building self-confidence as an actor.

6. Be confident that you can do the job

Our final piece of advice comes from Asim Chaudhry (Hoff The RecordPeople Just Do Nothing) who says, “Auditions [are] like a test and don’t always give you a good kind of example of what someone can do. Someone can be nervous, someone can be loads of things on the day,” but if you can demonstrate that you can do the job, the audition may not be the be-all-and-end-all.

Chaudhry goes on to share his audition experience for Black Mirror, “I didn’t really know my lines. It was a bit of a last-minute thing, [I] messed up the audition.” He went on to win the role, and when he asked why he was cast, the director said, “Sometimes it’s not about the audition, it’s about [the casting team] having the confidence in the person that they can do the job.”

A special thanks to Bella Ramsey, Asim Chaudry, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Rob Brydon, Toheeb Jimoh and Laura Donnelly for sharing their audition advice and experiences.

Check out more video advice from performers here.

Photo credit: Scarlet Page Photography