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

An Audition is Two Shows

An audition consists of two shows. You must nail both to book the gig.

You hit your mark at the mic, slate your name, speak the words and exit. You felt good about your work. But it is a mistake to think your audition is only about your recorded performance. 

An audition actually consists of two separate shows: The first is what they record– your acting at the mic. The second show is the performance that begins when you enter the studio and ends with your exit. 

This second “show” bookends your “acting” work and is at least as important as your acting performance. 

Each of these two shows is really a separate complementary performance. Each requires its own attention and artful finesse.

You can give a good acting performance but be a poor auditioner and lose the gig. You can be a mediocre actor but a very good auditioner and still book the gig.

What does this second “show” consist of? How should you frame the whole package of your audition? 

First, realize your entrance into the studio is no different from an entrance in a play or any stage, really. You bring your energy and your presence as well as your appearance as you connect with those in charge (casting people or producers– your audience) and set up your run at the recorded performance.

With your entrance you are already applying your thumb to the scale of the casting decision.

Just like a character in a play, your audition should have an objective: To not just give a great performance but also to reassure and inspire confidence in YOU and what you will bring to the session ahead.

They may cast your performance behind the mic, but realize they are also casting who (or what) you bring into the room with you. You are yourself, an artist, but you are also playing a role.

Realize that what happens during a record session (during the actual gig, that is)– aside from the actual recorded performance– is its own kind of theater, with a cast of players (the producers, engineer, voice director, actors and supporting staff). The “show” unfolds with a beginning, middle and end. As the takes roll, there is give and take, focused work, problem solving as well as usually some messing around and fun. A session is a “show within a show.”

As with a play, it’s not just what is said, but what the audience is left with.

Choosing who books the gig is not just about selecting who “gets the job done” with great voice acting. There is also the factor of who brings a good energy, who is flexible and fun, who provides fresh ideas and a reassuring presence that smooths the process and banishes uncertainty or worry.

There are any number of very talented performers who do not book not because of their read, but because of what else they bring along with them to the session that works against the flow and effectiveness and fun that one hopes for a session. Their acting is good, their auditioning not so great. It makes all the difference.

All this is part of the show you hope to be cast in- in addition to the scripted show you are reading for.

Two shows.

So when you prepare and as you audition, realize the show has begun well before the engineer hits “record” and isn’t finished until you exit the room.

You gotta perform both well to book the gig.

© Dee Bradley Baker 2023

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