Dreaming of making your debut on TV? Here, acting teacher Liz T. shares her tips for how to audition for a TV show…
Want to be on TV? You’ll first need to get some acting training under your belt and establish a strong knowledge of current dramas and comedies on TV. Then what? Here are your next steps…
How To Audition For a TV Show
Not only are we going to give you top tips for auditioning, but we’re going to tell you how to ace an audition for a TV show! Follow these 5 steps:
- Film yourself.
- Critique yourself.
- Join the SAG-AFTRA Union (Screen Actors Guild & American Federation of Television and Recording Arts).
- Find your audition.
- Prepare yourself.
Because it’s TV, casting directors will want to see how you look and act on a screen as opposed to a stage in a live theater. At home, try filming yourself on an iPhone, Macbook computer, or other film recording device to see how you look! Sometimes how we think we look on film is very different from how we actually look! When you do this, think about these questions: Do you look comfortable on film? Or are you making a lot of weird facial expressions, such as blinking a lot, touching your nose, biting your lips, or raising your eyebrows? See if you have any habits that you can break before stepping into the audition room!
Also, we don’t recommend you wear white or black clothing in front of the camera, as this can wash your skin tone out. Wear something flattering and a neutral color. Casting directors don’t usually prefer busy patterns or stripes.
If you want to learn how to audition for a TV show like a pro, you need to critique yourself on the following. If you are doing an acting scene either alone or with a partner in front of the camera, you want to make sure your speaking volume is accurate. You don’t need to speak too loud as the camera and microphone should be able to pick you up at your normal speaking voice, like on a Broadway stage when you are trying to project your voice to the back of the audience. But it shouldn’t be so soft, either, that they can’t hear a word you are saying.
Also, make sure you don’t look directly into the camera all the time, or directly at your scene partner. When you do your “pretend” filming experiment at home, notice where your eyes are most of the time. Are they rolling around, looking cross-eyed, or are they glued on one thing? They should look natural, with some movement, but nothing too still or sporadic.
When you look at your reading, make notes of where you should look at the camera and your scene partner in specific scenes or lines. Perhaps it is a romantic scene, and you are saying, “I love you.” You may want to try two different approaches, one directly into the camera and one at your scene partner. Think about these techniques. Study your favorite actors and see how they do it and what makes an impact on you!
Like with movies, you will need to be part of the SAG-AFTRA Union (Screen Actors Guild & American Federation of Television and Recording Arts) to start auditioning. If not, you can start by attending non-union auditions.
You will need to start working in TV as an extra or stand-in to join the union. If a director hires you as a non-union actor in a role that is meant or contracted for a union actor, you’ll receive a waiver each day you work – and once you receive three waivers, you can then apply to join the union. If accepted, you will need to pay a union initiation fee of approximately $3,000, along with monthly dues. It is a very big investment, so make sure it is something you really want to go for! However, being part of the union will ensure that you are being paid and treated fairly on set, and you are also eligible for health and retirement benefits.
Find Your Audition
Of course, if you want to learn how to audition for a TV show, you’ll need to know where to find the actual auditions! Try websites and resources such as:
These sites mostly post auditions for big cities such as New York, LA, Orlando, Boston, and Chicago. Some of these websites will require a fee to join (it is worth it!). And some you can submit your headshot and resume online to the casting director, without having to audition in person.
While you don’t need to panic when you do receive an audition time slot or are attending an open call, you do need to prepare to rock the audition! You will need to bring your headshot and resume to the audition, and also be prepared that it could take as little as under two minutes, or you could be in the audition room for an hour. Be prepared for both scenarios.
In the audition room, there may be one or several casting directors. Sometimes you will be given the script or “sides” a few days or weeks beforehand, or sometimes you’ll get it on the spot! If you are reading on the spot, it’s good to practice these types of “cold reads” before your audition. Find a friend, and test yourself reading lines or monologues. See what your natural reading tendencies and acting choices are.
When you walk into the room, be very polite and be yourself. Sometimes the casting directors will want to chat and have a conversation with you, but other times they just want to focus on the audition. Try not to distract them. In a TV audition, it will most likely be filmed. Sometimes they will send it to another casting office in LA or New York, so you must be as comfortable as possible auditioning with a big camera or several cameras right in front of your face!
If you would like to practice reading lines, work on your monologues, or learn more about how to audition for a TV show, it’s a great idea to work with a professional acting teacher!
Liz T. teaches online singing, acting, and music lessons. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!
Photo by nican45