So…it’s your child’s turn to audition. The fact is, the casting director may have already seen 50 other kids that look like your child, act like your child, and they may be getting the same read from all of those other actors. They may see the same actions from kids. They may seem the same choices and speaking tones from kids. It all starts to look the same to them. Over and over and over the same.
And then…your child walks in and surprises them…Your child actor does something in the way they speak, the way the use their body language, the way they move, that stands out from everyone else prior. Your child does something Different and/or Interesting.
After personally reading tons of posts about this topic and listening to many casting directors talk about the audition room, here are the top 5 ways for your child to get a callback.
The TOP 5:
1) Your Child Actor has to Stand Out in their Acting Choices.
To stand out they must take a calculated risk. This means they must have their confident choices make sense in a way that they could defend why they are doing what they are doing, should they get asked.
Believe it or not, this one is the most overlooked of the 5 we are listing here. It is often just brushed over.
Robin Williams once did an audition completely standing on his head. The casting director has not seen anything like that prior. It did make sense within the context of the sides. It was a great choice. He landed the role.
Jason Momoa took a risk and prepared an entire “warrior dance” which not one other actor had done previously. He did ask if it was okay for him to do. It was a yes to doing it. Jason took a chance because the character was not very verbal. The dance was not even in the script, but he felt it was right for the character and the scene. He went for it and Jason landed the role.
Unrelated to acting, but something a fabulous smart singer did, Fantasia, on American Idol, she sang Summertime entirely sitting down on the stage. She never felt the need to get up once. She took a risk that America would like it. And they loved it. It added to the vibe of the song. People went wild for this version. To this day, people still talk about this performance.
Oftentimes the thing that can make your child stand out is their choice how they hold their body, their head, their shoulders, their gestures. They need their body language to “connect” to what it is they are saying or doing and what they are feeling. These body language type choices should come naturally. However, they may (when younger) need to work on trying some different things out to get their bodies to match their emotions.
2) Eye contact must remain Focused and Steady-
Your child should make eye contact with the reader. When they practice, video them and watch to see if they cut their eyes. Kids often do this. If they do, show them the video so they can work on keeping their eyes focused on the reader. If they do cut their eyes away, what that does is disconnect from the reader.
The only times they would cut their eyes away from the reader is if the emotion that they are feeling calls for that type of action. Or, if they are in a commercial audition and they are asked by the casting director or other to look into the camera. Then they would just focus into the camera. But, even with this, they would need to keep their eyes focused into the camera and not cut their eyes away.
3) Entering and Exiting-
Your child must be confident upon entering and exiting the audition room. They must also be professional and your child must show professional lobby etiquette when entering and exiting the audition lobby. Be courteous, quiet and confident in the audition lobby.
We wrote a very helpful post on how they should enter and exit right here-
4) Be Loose, Fun, Relaxed.
They need to be themselves in their relaxed mode, their fun mode. They need to be able to listen. 80% of the audition is listening and reacting. They also need to be able to quickly take direction. But, mostly, kids go into auditions too uptight sometimes. So focused on other things. Too focused on the outcome. They need to literally let all of that go and just walk in confident and happy. Kind of like if they were laying on a beach somewhere, then they got up, and they took a walk on the sand and dipped their toes in the ocean water – that type of mood is what they should be in. They need to chill out and be ready for whatever happens.
Keep hair out of eyes. No makeup for younger actors. No costumes. See our post on clean wardrobe for child actors here, this is very important too-
If your child does those 5 top things they are very likely to get a callback. And if they keep at it through the next rounds, they are likely to land the role. BTW, #1 is the most overlooked, so make sure you keep thinking about that one when your child is reviewing his or her sides.