by April Hong
Creating a healthy mindset by setting audition goals
Growing up in the entertainment industry as an actor and the daughter of a well-known actor of over 500 TV and Film roles spanning over 60 years, James Hong, I’ve seen a lot of behind-the-scenes action. Auditioning was a common topic at the dinner table. Whether it was my dad or I who had just come home from an audition, we were always very supportive of each other knowing what an adrenaline rush auditions can give! If you’re an actor, you probably know what I mean. Auditions can trigger an abundance of questions, such as:
- What are the casting people looking for?
- Will I get the job?
- Where will my next paycheck come from?
- How do I compare to my competition?
- Will they like me?
These are normal thoughts. To have them is fine. It’s when we allow them to throw us off-center and lose our sense of self that can cause a problem.
Now, after professionally acting for over 20 years, earning my B.A. in Television-Multimedia Production at California State University, Northridge, working various jobs in the industry including production assistant, casting director, and producer, and teaching for nine years (my current gig), I’d like to share with you some lessons I’ve learned along the way.
How we view auditions can have a big effect on the outcome. Create a healthy mindset about auditions that allows you to be receptive to change and empowerment. Try this and you will find an abundance of audition benefits beyond just getting the job.
It all really boils down to these three simple points:
1. See auditions for what they really are – an opportunity to show your work and build business relationships. Keep things in perspective and understand that actors are just one part of production. In auditions, we only have a certain amount of control over the outcome. This leads us to my next two points:
2. Study and know your craft. Understand the talents you possess. Fully explore and identify them in acting classes and later in plays or short films. In the classes I teach, I assist actors in exposing a wide range of truthful expression. Find a teacher who can help you get to know what you have to contribute to the business of storytelling and keep your skills fresh.
3. Create a healthy mindset. The actor’s job is to play. When we are nervous or distracted in an audition, we can shut down. Symptoms of this are inflexibility to direction or giving a mechanical read. You may feel like you are second-guessing yourself and leave auditions with a looming cloud of “wondering how you did” over your head. Create an audition situation where you feel open to play and show your work. If you have done this, then you have done your job. The rest is up to fate.
How do we create this healthy mindset?
Often we go into auditions with this goal: to get the job. Reality is, sometimes we get the job and sometimes we don’t. Rather than let the pressure of getting the job hinder you, experiment with new goals. Set yourself up for getting something out of the job of auditioning. Chances are you’re going to feel less stressed in the audition room and give off a more self-assured vibe. This can make you more appealing in the long run and eventually help you to book more jobs.
I’d like to share some of MY PERSONAL FAVORITE AUDITION GOALS that create a healthy mindset. Have fun seeing which ones you find more empowering. Choose depending on your daily mood or what stage you’re at in your acting studies.
A. To use this acting opportunity to release emotions from a recent life experience (big or small)
B. To practice a new acting technique you have been working on in class.
C. To learn something new about yourself and the world around you.
D. To play and tap into your creative juices (why we love to act!).
E. To accept who you are and then share it with others.
As a working actor in TV, film, voice overs, theatre, and motion capture, I noticed my bookings greatly increase when I changed my mindset to be one of empowerment. All my acting training fell into place and worked for me as it was intended to. I went from feeling like I was at people’s mercy for approval to feeling like I had something to contribute. I was clear-minded going in and coming out of my auditions. Rather than being self-conscious and distracted by trying to get the job, I was free and willing to share my love of acting with others. What a great trade-off!
This process of changing my mindset took time and diligence as I found myself falling back into old habits in the beginning. I recommend writing a journal to help yourself track your progress. Before you go into an audition, write down your specific goal. In the audition room recognize when you start to close off and lose focus. When this happens reconnect with your new audition mindset/goal. A new habit will begin to form. After your audition, write down what you learned. This is a great way to recognize the benefits beyond just getting the job. Celebrate your accomplishments and new learning experiences. Then let go and move on to the next audition adventure!
By following the three points of seeing auditions for what they really are, studying my craft, and having a healthy audition mindset, I saw the audition process as not only a place to possibly get a job, but also a place for me to show what I love to do – act! I was benefiting and in turn casting directors got to see what I had to offer. I wish the very same for you! Enjoy trying these new audition goals. Perhaps they’ll even inspire you to create new ones of your own.
Since she was 4 years old, April Hong has been singing, dancing, and acting. A SAG-AFTRA union member since 1985, April has enjoyed studying with a variety of teachers in Hollywood, including her father, actor, director, and producer James Hong. She has learned the importance of a healthy actor’s mindset while working in commercials, voice overs, theatre, film, television, and motion capture. Now as an acting teacher since 2005, she shares her years of experience in the entertainment industry with her students. Through innovative, interactive, and personalized acting and teaching techniques many originating from Master James Hong, students are in for an unforgettable motivating experience!