Casting Workbook’s Safe Audition Guide
What would you do if you became uncomfortable in an audition? No matter what your gender identity, age or years of industry experience, personal safety should always be part of your audition process.
Auditioning can be chaotic, and it isn’t always possible to be familiar with your audition locations, which casting directors you will be seeing and how many support staff will be on hand. Since casting styles vary and you may not always be familiar with casting locations, it can be a challenge to ensure your safety, but is essential to do so.
If you’re auditioning for a new casting director in an unfamiliar city, there are easy ways to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible. Take the time to research any new faces you’re auditioning for, and the best way to arrive at the location. You will also get a bonus: you may find their performance likes and dislikes, so you can plan your audition to play to their preferences.
What you can do
Go to auditions prepared for more than just your role. You’ve gotten yourself into character, so go the extra mile to prepare for social situations. There are certain questions you always prepare yourself for, though it helps to include responses to questions and situations that may make you unsure.
Depending on the role and what the casting director has in mind, you may be asked if you are comfortable with revealing skin, or other questions. Know ahead of time what your answer would be, so the question does not jar you. If you are asked to audition in a manner that makes you uncomfortable, say you would rather not, and offer an alternative. Everyone has different comfort levels in acting, and communication is key. (if there are going to be any compromising situations in the audition, ie. men being shirtless; the casting director should have made this clear ahead of time so that agents and or actors are aware going in.)
If you find that the audition is leaving your comfort zone and this is causing you concern, you can stop the audition at any time. If you are concerned and leaving the audition is not immediately possible, you have options. Let the person you’re auditioning for know that you’re heading in an uncomfortable direction, and if you would like to stop.
You’re not alone
Megan Fox, Ryan Philippe, Thandie Newton, Charlize Theron and Gwyneth Paltrow are among actors that have shared their experiences in “casting couch” encounters. If anyone in the audition makes you feel uncomfortable, remember you are not alone, and it’s not your fault.
Many young or inexperienced actors are concerned that by resisting roles that make them uncomfortable will hurt their chances of working as an actor. You will have many chances at future auditions; it’s better to be safe than take the chance of something unpleasant happening.
Tips to keep in mind
Auditions can be nerve wracking at the best of times, but getting into the habit of communicating your whereabouts and sharing your travel and audition location calendars with a trusted friend or family member can drastically improve your personal safety.
Many actors use Google Calendar or iCal to keep track of their auditions and appointments; simply share your calendar with someone you trust, and they will know where you are. Once your calendar is shared, you don’t have to worry about telling someone each time you audition on location; they’ll already know where you are, and when you’re supposed to be back.
In addition to sharing your calendar, have a pre-determined time when you would like your trusted person to check in on you. This is especially handy for when you’re in another city, and are unfamiliar with your surroundings. Also be aware of certain red flags for less than ideal audition situations. If you appear at an audition that has been scheduled uncharacteristically late, in a secluded area, or if you find there is minimal support staff, be vigilant and prepared.
Remember, these situations can happen to anyone. A 19 year old Charlize Theron was new to Hollywood, and found herself invited to an audition session by a producer at his home in Los Angeles. When she realized the situation was feeling inappropriate, she left. Ryan Phillippe, also 19 at the time, shared that he has also encountered an uncomfortable moment during a casting session, showing that other gender identities may have these experiences.
Apps for safety
For moments when you need to be discreet, personal safety apps are a great option to literally keep in your back pocket. The three apps below offer slightly different services, but they all turn your smartphone into a potential safety beacon for selected contacts.
Watch Over Me: Free, though feature subscription applies. A streamlined alternative to panic button apps, you can instantly turn your smartphone into a personal safety device.
BeSafe: $0.99. Set up contacts as “Guardians” from your contact list, and contact them with a red SOS button.
React Mobile: Free. Send silent messages requesting assistance to a predetermined list of contacts.
Find what safety measures work the best for you, and make sure you discuss a reaction plan with your trusted person(s), just in case you need them. Let’s work together to keep each other safe, and keep acting as a positive experience.