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The Industry
Actress looking at script preparing for an audition

What to expect at a recall audition and how to prepare for it

​​Any working actor will tell you auditioning​ is​ a​​ job. Any time you get invited to audition, you are being invited to work, to sink your teeth into a character and dissect a script. The audition process can be daunting, ​​draining and can lead to months of waiting.

Sometimes you’ll be asked to audition more than once to go over the material from a first audition multiple times. ​​​This is what’s known as a recall or a casting callback. Here are some tips and advice on how to prepare for a recall, what to expect and how to get the most out of the experience. 

What is a ​Recall/​Casting ​C​allback? 

A recall (or casting callback) is the second stage of the audition process. They signify that the casting director liked what they saw in the first audition and wants to see more. The director or producer may also be present at a recall, which is a crucial stage for casting. Recalls affirm that you did great work in your initial audition but they’re also a great opportunity to reiterate what makes you right for the part.

In ​Person vs Online R​ecalls

​​The casting process can differ from project to project. In most circumstances, auditions take place via self-tape and recalls happen in person or online. 

​​​​​In Person Recalls​​ 

The casting directormay want to get a sense of who you are as an actor, which may be harder to convey through a screen. This will lead to them having recalls in person. It’s important to be on time to your recall, so make sure to look up its location and give yourself plenty of time to arrive and prepare.

Be ready to look at new material that the casting director may have. In person, you may also get to meet people from the production team and have a better opportunity to showcase your work. 

​​​​Online Recalls​​ 

​​If the recall is happening online, make sure you take the meeting somewhere private and quiet. Preparing for an online recall is similar to setting up a self-tape. Make sure you have good lighting and set up in front of a plain wall or a backdrop if you have one. The less distracting your space is, the more the casting director can focus on your work.

To avoid any technological difficulties, sign in a few minutes before your meeting starts to check everything is working. The casting director usually creates a waiting room before they join the meeting. Once the host starts the meeting, turn on your mic and video feed and change the orientation of your screen so you can see everyone clearly and they can see you.

However, the recall takes place, it’s important to be as prepared as possible. Treat recalls with the same enthusiasm and preparation as you would a first audition.

What to ​Expect​ in a Recall​ 

​​​In a recall, you’ll revisit the material from your first audition or explore​​ new material that the casting director may give you beforehand. Sometimes, the casting director may ask you to participate in a bit of improv or ask you what you think of the character you’re auditioning for. You can also expect to meet more members of the production team, who get introduced further along in the casting process.

As long as you’re prepared, nothing that happens in a recall should be that surprising. Casting directors are looking for reasons to book you for the role, not to throw you off.

How to Prepare​ for a Recall​ 

​​The key to a successful recall is walking in with confidence – believe you deserve the chance to play the part because you’ve done the work. Here are a few things you can do to ensure you give the best performance you can at your recall:

Take Another Look at the Sides

Make sure to go over the material you’re given before the recall, even if you think you know it well. Revisit the character with a fresh perspective but keep the same choices you made in the first audition. If you can, watch your self-tape back and make notes on what you did and how you can explore that further in the recall. Bring a copy of the sides with you, even if you’re off book. Taking a glance at the material in hand is always preferable than having to go and find a copy in the middle of a read. 

Bring Everything You Need

Take a pen, a highlighter and any props you may need for your character. Try to choose an outfit closest to your first audition – this will show the casting director that you’re making clear choices about who you think your character is. You can create a whole look by picking clothes that speak to the sense of the character and help the casting director visualise you in the role.

Do Your Research on the Production and Character

Flesh out the character as much as you can, make notes on any new material and read the whole script if you have a copy. If you don’t have a copy, research what you can about the production i.e. if it’s based on a book, read the book.

Knowing the context of your slides within the whole story will help to give you a better idea of the whole project. Looking up the director of the production to see their past projects will give you a sense about how they work. This way you’ll gain further insight by seeing if the production company has worked with actors you know, or if they have past projects that you’ve seen.

Plan a Routine for the Recall Day to Keep you Calm

Most importantly, try to focus your energy by keeping a calm mindset. Auditioning can be stressful, and often when waiting for a recall, we induce anxiety throughout the day. Planning a routine around your recall will help take your mind off the stress of waiting.

For example, if the recall is in the afternoon, organise a morning that will encourage a positive start to the day. It can be as simple as treating yourself to a fancy coffee or watching a show that you enjoy – something that will fill you with confidence and calm you down. 

What ​Happens ​A​fter a R​ecall? 

​​Very few working actors will be able to tell you what happens next. Many wait weeks to hear back, or never hear back at all. It’s important to ​​deal with the aftermath of a recall in a healthy way and here are some tips for how you can do this: 

Move onto the Next Audition

The best thing to do after an audition or recall is to forget it happened and move onto the next one. If we start envisioning what it would be like to book the role, we’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t happen. There are plenty of roles and opportunities out there, so look for your next one, keep developing your craft and enjoy the lovely surprise if you do find out you were successful.

Don’t Take Rejection Personally

It’s important to remember that the outcome of a recall isn’t tied to your self-worth. A rejection isn’t a comment on your ability as an actor. There are various things beyond your control which effect whether you’ll get the job or not and very, very rarely will you be responsible for the reason you didn’t get the role.

The truth is you won’t ever know what happens after a recall, not unless you’re directly involved in the casting process. So just try to remember that you did your best, you prepared as much as you could and that’s all you have control over.

One thing that’s certain is casting directors call back actors they like and they like actors they can trust to be prepared when they attend an audition. As long as you aspire to be an actor who’s prepared and reliable, you’ll give yourself more opportunities to be called in to audition and eventually you’ll book the role.

​​Take a look at our News & Advice section for more audition tips and self-taping advice.

Karen Johal is most notably known for playing Nicole Shelley in the award-winning Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso, starring opposite Jason Sudeikis, Brett Goldstein and Nick Mohammed. She currently stars in the BBC television series Phoenix Rise as Noreen Khan, starring opposite Paul Nicholls, Zita Sattar and Tyler Fayose. Karen’s film credits include: The Waves for MTV Entertainment directed by BAFTA award winner Sindha Agha; Frank’s Plan for Amazon Prime; and The High Performer for the award-winning digital creative We Are Tilt. She also starred in a global campaign for instant messaging platform WhatsApp with Broadcaster Alex Scott MBE and in a national Christmas commercial for retailer TK Maxx.

In Theatre, Karen recently played the lead role in Ayad Akhtar’s The Who and the What at The English Theatre of Hamburg in Germany, and has starred opposite Scottish actor Alan Cumming in the original musical Me and the Girls. She played the lead role in the regional premieres of David Harrower’s Blackbird and Duncan Macmillan’s People, Places and Things. Karen was also directed by Iqbal Khan in Mismatch, performing as part of the Sky Comedy Rep Festival at The Birmingham Rep Theatre in 2022.

Karen is a graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan, New York where she performed on stage for The Public Theater at Shakespeare in the Park and at the world famous Carnegie Hall.

Headshot credit: Andy Brown