A Guide to Auditioning Safely

5 tips for ensuring your next audition goes smoothly

With the recent news of harassment and assault in our industry, it’s an important time to discuss safety in the audition room. Bullying, intimidation and sexual harassment are not acceptable under any circumstances, and we would echo Equity’s words on this issue:

Workers in the creative industries deserve to be treated with the same respect as other sectors of the economy...
Equity

If you have any concerns about a venue or casting director please let us know, and contact Equity for assistance. If ever there is anything that doesn’t sound right, look right or feel right, please tell someone about it. Here are a few key things to note to ensure your auditions are safe, professional and productive!

1. Join your union

While you do not have to be a member of Equity to become a member of Spotlight, becoming a member of your union as a performer is a powerful first step to ensuring you are protected in the industry. Equity provide a huge array of resources, including legal advice, should you ever require it. Equity should always be your first port of call if something seems amiss for an audition.

2. Know your rights

Equity, in collaboration with Spotlight, the CDG and the PMA, have recently released a manifesto for their vision of how the process of casting can be made clearer, fairer, less stressful and more inclusive for everyone. They also have plenty of essential information about what you should and should not be asked in an audition. Most importantly, with regards to nudity and sexual acts:

No sex act should be requested at any audition.
Equity, Casting Manifesto

This is very clear cut, there are no exceptions. With regards to other kinds of personal queries that can be made, keep the following in mind:

In line with the law and with specific exceptions, performers should not be asked for personal information, verbally or in writing, as part of the audition. This includes actual age, ethnicity, disability, pregnancy, marital/civil partnership status or sexual orientation.
Equity, Casting Manifesto

Take the time to review these documents and make sure you know what is fair and reasonable to be asked in an audition.

3. Never travel to a home or other personal address

A professional audition is very rarely held anywhere other than an official casting studio or venue. If you’re asked to go elsewhere, question this. Make sure you know the venue is safe and being professionally managed.

If you have doubts, or even if it just makes you more comfortable, you can always ask to take someone with you. If you're under 18, always have an adult with you. Be sure to get a full address and contact number, and let someone know where you're going - if they aren't forthcoming with information about the audition, take that as a sign! 

4. Remember that you don’t have to dress up – or dress down

While you can come dressed the way you think your character would present themselves, the most important thing is to appear professional and to feel comfortable and able to move in character, so you can perform your best. Don’t come in a costume unless you are specifically asked to. Remember:

A performer should not be requested to undress in whole or in part unless a mutually agreed observer is present.
Equity, Casting Manifesto

Never feel pressured into doing anything with which you are not comfortable or that you feel is inappropriate. This includes physical stunts, combat, or anything else that might seem dangerous. Your safety comes first!

5. Come prepared

Arrive early, prepare your audition pieces, and don’t be alarmed if there are several people in the room. You may just perform to the casting director, or there might be a panel including the director and/or producer, and a cameraman. The Casting Manifesto says:

All involved in the casting process have a responsibility to ensure performers are given the opportunity to prepare and give their best.
Equity, Casting Manifesto

Prevent feelings of unease by engaging as well as you can with the process, and ensure you know as much as you can about the project and expectations of the audition itself, before you arrive and perform.