Keeping Young Performers Motivated Whilst Waiting for Auditions to Return

Ruth Hollyman runs Strange Town Young Actors’ Agency and shares six things young performers can do to get themselves ready for when auditions return.

By Ruth Hollyman

We’re six months into this situation that has changed all of our lives, and it’s been particularly tough on young performers and their families. Not being able to go to school or drama group, meet up with your friends as easily as you would ordinarily, having a lot of your plans for the coming year either cancelled or changed radically. And as a young performer, it must feel like the opportunities open to you have been few and far between.

The good news is that things are now starting to move. Some of you are of course already back in school or about to return, and college and uni courses are getting ready to receive students, even if their courses will initially be partly online. And the film and TV industry is definitely starting to pick up. We’re noticing more and more projects are getting back to work and new casting breakdowns are coming in. Many have tentative shoot dates but it’s great to know that casting directors are casting again.

Don’t despair if you haven’t been invited to audition yet, the screen industry is getting back on its feet but it’s taking a while and everything is moving more slowly than usual, whilst we all get used to the new ways of working. Be reassured that your agent will be working hard on your behalf, submitting you for jobs that they feel are right for you.  

Bear in mind that while the Covid-19 restrictions are in place, if you're a young performer living outside London, it may not be possible for you to be considered for a London-based job that is shooting in the next few weeks. This is not always the case and there are plenty of projects that are planning to shoot next year with locations outside of London.

So, what can you be doing to make sure you're ready for when you do get invited to audition? For some of you, it must feel like a long time since you had to learn lines and think about a role so here are some tips for preparing yourself to be ready to go when you do get that call.

Practise Your Self-Taping

As all initial castings are self-tapes at the moment, use this time to practice getting really good at putting yourself on tape. Ask your agent to send you some old sides (scenes from a script) and follow Spotlight’s brilliantly helpful self-taping guide. Once you’ve done your tape, send it to your agent and ask them for notes on how you could improve. 

You can also do this with a voice tape, as young performers are often asked to voice projects such as animations, etc

Update Your Headshot

As young performers, many of you will be used to having your headshot updated annually. I know this hasn’t been easy to do during lockdown, so if you feel your look has changed a lot during the last six months, use this guide to take a temporary photo and send to your agent for them to use until the time comes when you can have your picture taken professionally again. There are some great tips here as to how to do this.

Update Your Spotlight Profile details

Your agent will be delighted if you let them know if your height has changed or if you have learned a new skill. Maybe you’ve mastered skateboarding during lockdown or followed an online dance course? Don’t wait to be asked, tell your agent and then be proactive and update your profile so casting directors can always see the most recent information for you.

Develop Your Skills

If you usually attend a youth theatre or stage school, many of you won’t have been able to attend your usual drama or dance classes. These may be online at the moment, which we know is not the same, but do take advantage of this to keep learning new skills and developing what you already know. Also, have a look online to see what other opportunities are out there as this may be a really great chance to have online singing lessons or even some accent coaching.  

If you’re not already part of a youth theatre, find out what’s available in your area by contacting the national organisations:

Watch Lots of Good Stuff

There is so much fantastic TV and film to watch online at the moment, including lots of online theatre. Take advantage of the chance to watch professional actors who are giving amazing performances and learn from them. It’s great to develop a sense of what styles of performance you like, which performers you admire, and what kind of TV, film and theatre you respond to. 

Get in the habit of watching the credits too. If you really liked a film or TV programme, find out who cast it, who directed it and who produced it. Google those creative people and see what else they have done and what else you might be able to watch.

Be Kind to Yourself  

This time has not been easy for any of us, and you mustn’t give yourself a hard time if you feel unmotivated or anxious. If you’re struggling, talking to someone always helps and there are some good resources available to you. Take a look at this page and click on ‘Wellbeing and mental health’ to find some helpful links. 

Remember this difficult time will pass. You're already a brilliant, creative young performer who has got through the last six months; if you can do that, you can do anything.

Ruth Hollyman runs Strange Town Young Actors’ Agency in Edinburgh and is one of the Creative Directors of Strange Town youth arts organisation

Check out our Contacts listing if you'd like to get in touch with Strange Town Young Actors' Agency.

Main image by Danielle Cerullo via Unsplash.