Tag Archives: Acting

Tackling nerves

Being nervous before a performance or an audition is perfectly normal.

Most performers get nervous, however experienced they are.  If you look around a waiting room where people are waiting to audition, you may not be able to tell whether people are nervous or not, because we all deal with it differently.

You will need to work out your own way to deal with your own nerves.  Make sure you are in control of your breath, because this will affect your speaking voice. If you find your breath is high in your chest and you feel light-headed, try concentrating on the outward breath for a while and let the inward breath take care of itself.  It may help to think of nerves as “excitement” and let them fill you with a buzz and a sparkle.  Some people are able to embrace their nerves and go on the roller coaster ride, others need to calm their nerves and concentrate on relaxing.

Auditioners are well aware that auditionees get anxious, but, while they may make some allowances for dropped lines or tripping over your own feet, and won’t mind an occasional lapse of memory if your audition is good/exciting/interesting, they will expect you to be able to deal with your nerves during the audition.  If you can’t, how can they be confident that you will be able to deal with nerves during performance?

There is nothing more painful for an auditioner than watching auditionees paralysed by fear and looking as though they are hating every minute.  Try to look as though you are pleased to be there and allow the auditioners to relax and to enjoy meeting you. Give them the opportunity to concentrate on the audition, rather than worrying whether you are about to burst into tears.  You are there to show them what you can do and they honestly do want you to be confident and relaxed and at your best – their life is so much easier if you are!


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Being an Extra

Being a supporting artiste/background artiste/extra can be interesting, lucrative and educational.

You can meet interesting people, work on fascinating sets and in wonderful locations and you can learn a lot from it. You sometimes get great food!  It can also be very dull, hard work, soul destroying, badly paid, cold, wet and miserable and in some cases extras are treated like sheep and given very little respect or consideration.

Don’t choose it as a “stepping stone” to featured/speaking/lead roles.  Very occasionally a background artist is given more to do and very occasionally a background artist has progressed within the same organisation/soap opera and had a speaking role.  This does not normally happen and you shouldn’t go into background work hoping that it will, as you are likely to be disappointed!  Not only that, but if you try to get noticed as a background artiste you are likely to make yourself very unpopular.

If you are an adult actor you should not include background credits on an acting CV.  Treat the work as an SA like any other part time job, like working in a pub or in an office.

If you are a child actor and you feel you want to mention your experience, just be a bit careful about how you use the credit on a CV and ensure that you make it clear that you understand that it is different from an acting credit.

The reason for this is not really to do with snobbery (well, perhaps a little bit) it’s more to do with how actors and background artistes are chosen/cast.  The work you do as a background artist is valuable BUT  in most cases the background artists are not auditioned, they are selected and sent along as a “type”.  This means that your acting skills as an extra have not usually been assessed by anyone (even though you may be brilliant) and so the work  is not regarded as an acting credit.  It’s really important (if you are hoping to work as a professional actor) that you recognise that the people you hope will eventually employ you as an actor will not regard SA experience as relevant.

The truth is that you don’t have to have any acting skills to do SA work.  Many SAs are actors (some may be brilliant actors) but they could be on set with someone who has no acting skills at all – and they’re both employed to do the same job.  That’s why telling someone you’re an SA (or that you’ve worked on some big blockbuster) doesn’t give anyone in casting any kind of clue about your acting ability.  Mentioning your SA work when you are pursuing acting work won’t do you any favours .  It could work against you, because you will give the impression that you don’t understand the industry (or casting).

Some people get really upset by this, but it’s important not to take it personally.  Just keep the two experiences separate and enjoy them for what they are.

If anyone offers you an “IMDB credit” as an incentive (especially if they offer it instead of pay) then they’re taking you for a ride.  IMDB credits for SA work don’t mean anything and once you get into acting work, they can do you more harm than good.

I cannot see any advantage in doing extra work for no financial reward – unless you’re helping out a friend.

The best way to get extra work is to join an extras agency – or more than one.

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