Dee Bradley Baker's "All to Know About Going Pro in V.O."

Advanced Auditioning

How I see it: What an actor brings

What do I aim for when I audition?

In one sense, it’s all about the work: I want to make something so good that they must hire me, so good that they must bring me back again and again. But I also want to create a character performance that I love. And I want them to love that character and their show even more after they’ve added in what I’ve created.

Before, they may have liked it, after I’m done doing what I do, I want them to love it. That’s what I shoot for. That’s how I see my job.

One way to look at audition is, then, “Did I do good work?”

There is another way to view it. This view focuses not on you and your work, but on the creator.

This involves two things:

1. How does the show creators feel about their creation (i.e. their character/project) after a really good audition?

2. How do the show creators feel about themselves after a good auditioner has left the room?

As a voice actor auditioning in a studio you are not merely trying to “come up with a voice” or even just act well. Beyond this, the best auditioners are altering -even improving- the creator’s relationship to their own material. Your creative work brings them a fresh take on their creation, bringing them more clarity, more enthusiasm, more insight, more affection, a deeper bond for what they have made. If you’ve done your job well, that is. You should leave them feeling better about their work.

This, in my opinion, is why how you engage with the material can be as important as how you engage with those overseeing the casting process.

How they remember you, how you made them feel, can influence why they book you and why they bring you back next time. Auditioning well is about doing good work, but it’s also about how you leave them feeling. It’s not just about you. It’s also about them.

Now, I don’t think it’s useful to view acting or auditioning just as some kind of conscious manipulation or crafty mind game. The best performers do what they do by shooting from the hip, going with their gut, without over-thinking it. That’s all they need. But in creating what you make in the “theater” of the studio, you are doing a number of things. You are solving a question, a puzzle, of sorts. In doing so, you bring certainty where there was previously uncertainty. It strikes me that a performer also changes how the creators feel about their work/project and sometimes even about themselves.

In a sense, you are bringing it all into a better light. An analogy might be one of a parent/child seeing a doctor. After their session with the specialist, they should walk away feeling good, relieved, smiling, better connected.

An actor’s work affects the show creator on a very personal level. Remember this audition was often preceded by weeks or months of preparation and work. Finally, from this single session with you, they should walk away feeling better than ever about finishing what they’ve made, and maybe even better about themselves. A good audition is an affirmation that thier creation is viable, that it works, that all this labor will payoff. After that one killer audition, they now know how it should sound and feel. They are free from the uncertainty of casting. The dynamic of their characters is finally locked in and alive and the project can move to completion.

When you walk in, hopefully they like what they have done. And hopefully when you’ve left, they love what you’ve done and love even more their character and project.

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© Dee Bradley Baker 2023

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