The Audition Gauntlet

When I first started out as an actress, I had no idea where the road would take me. Unlike many my family aren’t in the film industry, I don’t have any ties to Hollywood or successful actors anywhere in the world. My grandma is very creative having studied fashion design, and so sews, sketches and writes. She’s definitely an artist and my hero, but even she couldn’t help guide my route into film. She’s consistently supportive, encouraging and believes in me, which may actually be more valuable in terms of finding ways to negotiate myself into this alien world.

Throughout my Psychology degree I would go to various small sets and locations, trying to gauge the culture of film through experience. These music videos and feature films were often highly pressurised environments and I soon learned that generally the lower the budget the higher the intensity. Further along in my journey when I started auditioning, I would often stumble over words, feeling embarrassed. I recall one insurance commercial casting during which I had a panic attack. The casting director kindly waited until it subsided, checking in on me every now and then. Some people really are Earth angels.

Those formative years (before I knew which typecasts were mine, how to hold space for fellow actors or charm a room) were extraordinarily difficult and terribly exciting. The daily threat of the unknown would overwhelm my senses, rendering me confused and tired. Often shoots would be cancelled, details changed or I’d receive a last-minute call about an audition. One thing I’ve discovered on my journey is how to listen to myself and go with the flow as required. It is so important to pay attention to the signs you give yourself of fatigue and the need for space. The trick with daily rejections is to think of them as mini lessons in acting. So, you’re getting free exposure, experience and you’re growing more confident. This career path demands great resilience and you’ve just got to trust the process and be grateful always for each door you walk through.

My degree is a BSc in Psychology specialising in Neuroscience and Positive Psychology. My dissertation was entitled “What Does it Mean to be Happy”. My own interpretation of our results is that mindset determines happiness, as this is based on appreciation of achievements. When you’re unhappy leaving an audition, the question is not ‘what did I so wrong?’, but rather ‘how can I improve?’. This acknowledges your achievement having been in the room and done your best, while also accepting that there’s always progress to be made. This attitude can be applied to everything in life and once you learn how to approach auditioning with the right mindset you no longer suffer and rather have lots of fun.

By Johanna Thea

Johanna is an actress, writer and model. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter. (Photo by Jennie Scott)