From a recent article in Backstage.
In auditions, confidence is everything. It’s your body language, your voice, how you carry yourself, the image you project, before you even open your mouth. It’s those first 15 seconds of your audition as you are walking into the room. Your body language should say, “Trust me. I got this!” and make the casting director, producers, directors, and showrunners believe you, and feel like they can put you on set or on stage the very next day. You are performance ready, you are owning it, you have unshakeable confidence, and there isn’t a doubt in anyone’s mind. It’s the most attractive quality for an actor to have in an audition.
It’s very obvious when an actor who is unsure of what they are doing and lacks confidence walks into the room. Their shoulders are low, they avoid eye contact, they are tentative in their choices, their voice is soft, and the sides are shaking in their hands. It makes you look “green,” and makes the casting director nervous. Before you even open your mouth, your body language says, “I’m sorry for the audition you are about to see.” It ain’t pretty, and if you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will.
True confidence comes from training—from practice being in front of the camera and on stage. It’s about being prepared, being confident in your work, and then setting it free in the room, listening and letting spontaneity take over. Even seasoned actors question themselves once (or twice) in a while.
If you don’t have that confidence yet, you have to learn to fake it. You are an actor, right? Act like a “confident person.” What does that mean? It means walk in with your head high (even if you are freaking out inside), look the people in the room in the eye (not in a creepy way), breathe, have the sides in your hand, and be fully prepared and with your audition. If you are the type of actor whose hands shake a lot when they are holding the sides, put something with a little weight to it underneath (a headshot folder or a book). It will stop the shaking and make you seem that much more sure of yourself. (“Wow, this guy isn’t nervous at all!”) That alone speaks volumes about you.
Even if this job is paying a top of show guest star, and you need it to pay your rent, and you don’t know how you are going to eat that night, you can never let them see that. Desperation can be spotted a mile away. Never let them see you sweat, and act like you have been doing this forever. Don’t bring that stuff into the room with you. The more you listen in the scene, the less self-aware you are, the more your body relaxes, the more connected you are physically and emotionally, and the better your audition is.
You ever have days when you are miserable, and if you force yourself to smile, eventually you will actually make yourself happier? Same goes with body language. Sit or stand confidently, ground yourself in the audition, put your shoulders back, avoid shifting the weight on your legs, breathe, look the reader right in the eye, and think to yourself “I got this.” It is self-fulfilling, and will actually make you feel more confident. It should feel like you are having this great party, and you don’t really care if anyone shows up, because you are so sure it’s going to be amazing.
Same goes for auditions. Don’t be the guy that’s begging people to come to your party. If they don’t like your choices, too bad. They are missing out on a great party.
Want to get more advice on Confidence and Body Language? Check out the Auditioning chapter in Matt's book "10 Steps to Breaking into Acting: Second Edition" on Amazon.