So, you’ve gotten an audition (Yay, you!) and you soon realize the role is actually *not* your bullseye. Sure, you can hit the target, but this isn’t want you want to become known for doing as an actor. What do you do?

Do you go to the audition and stretch to whatever it is they are looking for, even though it’s not your thing *and* it’s not likely you’ll book it, since the role is clearly someone else’s bullseye? Pro: You showed up like the pro that you are, you did good work, you got seen. Con: They don’t get a sense of what it is that you specialize in, because you stretched to work outside your bullseye. You not only didn’t book the job, you may not have even booked the room.

Do you go to the audition and show them what you major in even if that version of the read doesn’t really serve role? Pro: You’ve shown the buyers what you’re all about. They GET YOU. They understand your bullseye and next time they’ll call you in closer to that target. Con: You wasted their time, coming in on something you knew you’d never book.

Or do you decline the audition? Pro: You’ve shown you respect the process in which the team is engaged, you know you’re not gonna book this role, and you want them to be able to bring in an actor who could. You’re a pro who knows this isn’t your only shot at being seen by these folks. Con: What if this was a great chance to be seen for *another* role in the project that they could’ve seen you’d be perfect for, had they seen you at all? Turning down an audition feels like ass. Perhaps your agent pitched you to get you in and now you’ve disappointed your team and the casting office.

Do you audition always, and stretch to what they want? Do you audition always, and always on-brand? Do you only audition when it’s a slam-dunk? Is it case-by-case? Is there a RIGHT answer?

Of course there isn’t. The reason my work is *SELF*-management for actors is because there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all answer to any of the issues actors face.

So, when faced with the above scenario, what do YOU do?

My ever-favorite response: It depends.

Have you been in this office before? If so, you’ve already booked the room, so you can decline without worrying they won’t remember you fondly (in fact, the off-brand audition decline can actually help cement the perception of your professionalism in their office). If not, you may wanna get in there, just so they can start becoming a fan of your work… but then there’s the question of whether or not you stretch to fit or do the on-brand thing. Well, that, again, depends on whether you can nail the stretch or if it’s just so far off that you’re gonna end up falling way short.

Basically, your astute self-assessment, willingness to be honest with yourself about your abilities, and awareness of the fact that there WILL be other auditions in your life (in this office and others) will help you answer these questions.

Remember, the most important time to say no is while you’re BUILDING your brand. After you’re well-branded, you can take risks, try things that are off-brand, even get it totally wrong and then be forgiven because you have a fanbase (and that’s a fanbase of viewers, buyers, representatives, all of ’em).

One of my SMFA students was lamenting sitting in the lobby, waiting for an audition she knew was not her bullseye, having gone in because it’s one of a handful of auditions her rep got her… and who wants to decline?!? Right? Here’s what I said to her, when she talked about how important it felt to just GO to *allllllll* the auditions.

“You teach the buyers how to cast you. If you teach them instead that you’re just so desperate to be seen, to not rock the boat, to be grateful for whatever you’re being handed, they’ll learn THAT is your brand. Insist upon better. Think of it like dating. Right now, you’re sleeping with EVERY guy who buys you dinner, because you’re just so grateful to be on a date. STOP doing that. It isn’t building the reputation that you want!”


That doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to go in for a role that’s not your bullseye. That doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to choose to showcase your specialty rather than stretching toward a role you know you can’t book. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to decline an audition. None of it is wrong. It’s all a case-by-case analysis that YOU need to make, as you’re building your brand, navigating your way through sticky situations, and heading toward the next tier.

Get clear about the pros and cons for each of these scenarios and never be driven by the NEED factor. Remember you’re in this for a lifetime, and that means you’re constantly building your reputation with your buyers, building your brand, and building your JOY for this pursuit. Know your NO line. Make some rules for yourself before you’re faced with the decision. That makes sticky situations far less sticky!

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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