The Professional Actor: Why You Should Always Keep Your Dignity

Posted on 17 May 2016

professional actor



be someone that everyone wants to work with


Acting can be a tough business. Bagging a promising audition is a big deal, and you need to do all you can to get the job, lest you end up picking up shifts at your local pub for another few months.

So when you arrive at the audition, prepared and eager to read the part, how can you increase your chances of being chosen? That’s simple: be someone that everyone wants to work with. Easier said than done, I know, but invaluable advice if followed correctly.

So, how do you become that person that everyone in the room can’t wait to spend more time with? Well you might be naturally charming and funny, but the most important thing is that you are professional. In particular, you keep your dignity even when the going gets rough. A good reputation is a valuable thing, and getting yourself known as the cool, professional actor may do more for your career than you’d expect.


Be Cool, Yolanda

Trying to get yourself known as a cool actor doesn’t mean you need to turn up in a leather jacket and sunglasses with a cigarette on the go. It’s all about the way you react to situations. So yes, in an audition setting, at first the casting director will not be aware of what a dignified person you are to work with, but when they send their assistant out to tell you your audition is postponed, or ask you to read some new material on the spot, there is your chance to show them.

Being kind and understanding towards everyone, whether it be a producer or lowly assistant when they approach you with unexpected news is incredibly important. If you are not selected for the role, those working on the project do not stop being of use to you. Scowling at them and huffing as you leave the building will not exactly give them a good impression of you as a professional actor. And should you encounter them again auditioning for another job, your chances will look a lot better if you accepted your last rejection with kindness and dignity.

Likewise, when you are working on a project, you need to make yourself a ‘solver’ of problems, not the ‘creator’ of them. There is a high chance that you will be working with many of the same people on later projects, and if you want to be selected for them, you need to give everyone you interact with the impression that you are easy to work with and always keep calm no matter what happens- and achieving this needn’t be difficult.


How to Keep Your Cool

Whether you’re a naturally calm person, or tend to have a bit of a temper, everyone can get frustrated in an audition situation when the stakes are high, just as things can feel stressful on the last few days of rehearsal. And there are a few techniques you can use to always stay calm and dignified.


1. Rationalise what has happened

If you didn’t get the part, calmly think about why that might be. Instead of cursing the names of the casting directors, think about why you might have missed out this time. Maybe you weren’t quite right for the role, or didn’t have enough time to prepare properly. It could have just been bad luck, and someone may have turned up that just looked more suited to the character. Whatever the reason, it happened, it wasn’t meant to be, and you need to accept it and move on. Taking out your anger on those casting, their assistants or other auditionees will do you no favours in the long run. Look at what you could do better next time, and stay positive.


2. Don’t be a toxic sharer

If rehearsals are going badly and the director is grinding on your nerves, the last thing you should think about doing is taking your anger out on social media. Even if your privacy settings are turned up as high as they can go, publishing anything to the internet is risky, and has the potential to seriously damage your reputation. Try to resolve the problems yourself, and keep that Twitter page looking professional.


3. Visualise how you should react

Whatever has happened, before you lose your temper think about the best response you could possibly have, and try to achieve it. If that’s a little tricky, think about the calmest person you know, and try to replicate how they would react to the particular situation.


4. Try some calming techniques

If you suffer from anxiety, you may already be aware of the benefits of breathing techniques, but they can also be used as remedies for stress. After a stressful day, or perhaps during a break, try some of these 10 minute breathing exercises, to help you reduce your stress levels a little. Meditation may help to keep you calm too, as can regular exercise in your spare time.


5. Apologise properly if you ‘lose it’

You’re not perfect, and no one expects you to be. Sometimes you might end up flying off the handle, and it may be unavoidable in certain situations. If it happens, the important thing is to deal with it correctly. Give yourself some time to recover your composure before returning to the room and apologising to everyone present that was involved. Explain your frustrations and seek a solution if possible, but most importantly, leave them with the impression that you are genuinely embarrassed and apologetic that you allowed yourself to lose your temper.


Being Your Authentic Self


At the end of the day, casting directors want to see you as you really are, and if you truly are cool and professional, that will shine through in your behaviour and composure. They don’t want to feel like you’re ‘acting’ when it comes to your personality, and they don’t want to see a façade.

In this way method acting can be helpful, since it will help you present truth in both your personality, and your reading. It can help you ‘turn it on’ in the right moments, helping you to give a very natural, yet impressive audition.

Keeping your dignity and remaining professional is an important skill, and no less valuable to an actor than actual acting ability. A reputation can make or break a career, so building yourself a good one is an extremely worthwhile endeavour.


Want to learn more about how method acting can help you perform better in auditions? Why not take a look at the range of acting courses we offer?


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