Do you ever find yourself obsessing over a mistake you made in an audition after finding out you didn’t book the show? “If I had nailed that triple pirouette” or “if only I had sang my song exactly the way I had practiced it at home then maybe I would’ve booked the job.” Does the fear of fucking it up prevent you from doing your best work in the room? Well I have some good news for you. It turns out that whatever’s meant for you will be yours and there’s nothing you can do to change that.
I believe that the universe has a plan for each of us. Call it fate, destiny, God’s plan, your higher journey, whatever word or phrase resonates with you. “What’s meant to be will be.” I truly believe that. And here’s how this belief system can be particularly helpful when it comes to auditioning for shows.
Picture this: An actor gets a self-tape request for a show they’ve been wanting to do for a while and the role they’re being called in for is a role they could see themself playing. But casting only gave them 48 hours to learn two songs, and three scenes, not to mention film the self-tape and edit it together. They do their best to work on the material in between all their other responsibilities but they start psyching themself out that they won’t be able to submit their best work given the short turn around. And if they don’t submit their best work, they’re thinking there’s no way they’ll get a callback, let alone get the job. When it finally comes time to film the audition this person is so in their head about having to “get it right” they have trouble accessing their creativity. They so badly want to prove to casting that they can play this role that they forget all about what makes them unique and special so their artistry gets washed over. In the end, they aren’t able to get a take they’re truly proud of.
For this imaginary actor, I’ll bet these 48 hours don’t feel too good. Regardless of whether or not this person books the job I’d bet money that the whole experience was unnecessarily stressful and not the best for their mental health. How do you think this person would benefit from operating under the assumption that if the job is meant to be theirs they will book it?
Let’s re-write our little story: An actor gets a self-tape request for a show they’ve been wanting to do for a while and the role they’re being called in for is a role they could see themself playing. But casting only gave them 48 hours to learn two songs, and three scenes, not to mention film the self-tape and edit it together. It feels like a really big opportunity. The actor starts getting a little nervous about the short turn around but then remembers that if this job is meant to be theirs, then it will be no matter what. It’s exciting to be given the chance to work on the material and practice their craft, even if the timing isn’t ideal. When it comes time to film the audition this person trusts that the universe is on their side. They feel free to play and try different things with the material. They lean into what makes them unique and special. In the end, they are able to submit a self-tape that they are proud of.
Do either of these imaginary scenarios seem familiar to you? Do you find that you are usually more like the first actor, so afraid of fucking it up that you get in your own way? Or do you find that you actually operate more like the second actor, trusting that the universe has your back? Or maybe you think everything I’m saying is horse poop and you don’t believe a word of it. For the skeptics out there, keep reading.
A crucial part of all this is the basic understanding that a great audition, doesn’t automatically mean you will get the part, just like an audition where you make mistakes doesn’t mean you’re automatically out of the running. Too often we get caught up in thinking that if we do great work, we will be recognized for it by way of a callback or job offer. And sometimes that’s the case. But sometimes it’s not. Are we all on the same page so far? Great.
I offer you some examples from my own life. Everything you’re about to read is 100% true.
When I was still in college I was auditioning for summer stock jobs. There was one theater doing four huge dance shows and they were looking to hire an ensemble to be in all four productions. Needless to say I felt like this was the perfect season for me and I really wanted the job. At the callback I got a little too enthusiastic and during the ballet combination, I did a grand battement and my bottom leg shot out from under me. I landed right on my ass. I booked it anyway.
A few years after graduating college I was at an open dance call for a theater’s entire season. Due to the giant nature of this call the people running the audition weren’t part of any of the creative teams. They were dancers that had worked at the theater before and were trusted by the artistic director to make decisions about who to keep and who to cut. I made it through multiple rounds of dancing but at the end of the day was not asked to stay and sing. However, there was one particular show in their season that I knew I was really right for. I had already done the show twice. A month later I heard that initial appointments were going out for this particular show in the season. I pretended I hadn’t attended the initial open call and submitted my materials to the casting director explaining that I had already done the show twice and that I was interested in being seen by the creative team for this production. He brought me in to dance for the choreographer. I booked the show.
A few years later I was at a dance call and at the end of the morning they told me they wanted me to come back the next day to sing. I told the casting director I was going to be on a plane to Austin the next morning and I wouldn’t be able to make the callback. He made a note of it on my resume and I walked away thinking that was the end of the road for me. Cut to four days later. I am on my way home from Austin and I get an e-mail asking me to come to final callbacks the following week. I booked the job.
What all these stories have in common is that against all odds, I booked each show. Each time there was some obstacle in my way that made me think I wouldn’t get the job, and each time I did. Those jobs were meant to be mine and so they were. On the flip side, I can’t even count how many times I have done my best possible work in an audition room, received really wonderful, genuine feedback from the people behind the table and then never heard anything afterwards. I’m sure many of you, my talented readers, have also experienced this phenomenon. It simply means that job wasn’t meant to be yours.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. If you still think that everything I’ve said is nonsense, thank you for your willingness to hear me out. However, if what I’ve written here has resonated with you, I hope that going forward you are able to trust that whatever is meant to be yours will be yours no matter what. I hope that practicing this allows you to shine your light even brighter, without fear of having to be perfect. May you walk into every audition room or self-tape owning who you are with all your artistry, imperfect humanity, and uniqueness. I hope that this brings you peace of mind as you continue along on your journey.