So you’ve got talent, kids? You want to be an actor or perform in any way possible? Well, the business is always looking for fresh faces, and the first stop on your journey to fame is the audition. What most people won’t tell you is that in order to be an actor, you have to master auditioning, because even when it comes to auditions for kids, the first impression is critical…and the first impression takes place at the audition.
In the Bay Area, casting for kids has it’s own frontier of opportunities and TV, film and theater casting directors are always searching for the right youth. That can be you if you give yourself the best chance to succeed. Check out a few of our tried and true auditions for kids tips that will help you make the most of your next audition.
Tips For Auditions For Kids:
Always arrive early: Arriving early gives you the best chance to be calm and centered while also allowing you to scope out the scene and get to see what is required. Traffic in the Bay Area can be unpredictable, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to arrive and find parking.
Dress the part: A great audition for kids tip to keep in mind is to start with what to wear. We recommend clothes you can move in, closed toed shoes, a shirt that covers your tummy, and no distracting jewelry. You want to show your personality, but still have the focus be on YOU. Wear a color that pops and will make you stand out. As many directors will see hundreds of kids in a day, you will want them to remember you. Countless times we are referring to a kid by what they wore…”who was that cute girl in the yellow dress that sang ‘On My Own’?”
A good headshot goes a long way: Having a headshot is a big plus when it comes to auditions for kids. A photo is very helpful when casting, and will help the director remember you after the audition. A headshot is a clean photo of your face and shoulders. Wear a solid, bright color shirt. No black, brown, gray, white or drab colors. Stripes, logos or multiple colored shirts should be avoided. Girls should wear light make up.
An 8.5×11 headshot with a resume printed or stapled on the back is ideal and can be printed out from a home computer. Have a parent or friend take a photo of you outdoors and be sure to smile! Your headshot should look exactly like you and be age appropriate. Casting directors don’t want to see a sultry photo of an eight year old. Be a kid and look the part.
Create a simple acting resume: A resume is a summary of your performing experience and should include personal information including full name, address, phone number, email, age (required if you are a minor), your height to the nearest inch (without shoes), and weight to the nearest 5 lbs. Include your hair and eye color as well, even if you are including a color headshot. Include a list of your experience, mentioning the show name, role, director and production company.
Be sure to include any dance, singing and acting classes or workshops you have taken. Also mention any special skills and hobbies (for example, if you are fluent in a foreign language, ride a unicycle, roller skate, enjoy gymnastics, or marshal arts, etc.).
Even if you don’t have much or any acting experience, you can write a short bio on why you are excited about being a part of their show or project, and can mention a few shows that you enjoyed, even as an audience member.
It’s go time!: When you walk in the room, the audition begins, right? Well, yes, but really, your opportunity begins when you leave your vehicle. Someone may see you on your approach to the audition location, so make sure you’re ready! That means hair done, make-up done, and a prompt arrival. It’s best that both you and your ride be well behaved. You want the staff to remember you for your talent, and not for any negative impression that an overbearing parent might make.
Time to show them what you’ve got: Introduce yourself with confidence and a huge smile. A good audition for kids tip is to acknowledge everyone at the casting table (even the casting assistant will play a part in choosing you). State your full name and the name and author/artist of your piece. Keep it happy and bright. Definitely practice this as part of your audition with lots of energy. One of our best tips for auditions for kids is to remember to “take a beat”. This means, take at least 1 deep breath, position yourself, and then begin your monologue or song. Casting directors need a moment to shuffle their papers, take notes, or take a sip of their drink before they’re really ready to watch you. Don’t let them miss that important first moment of your audition.
Selecting the right song: Selecting the right song is an important tip when it comes to auditions for kids. In most cases you will be asked to learn 16 bars of a song (about 30 seconds). We recommend that you have 3-4 songs ready in case a director asks you to sing a second song. For best results, we suggest that you are prepared to sing two up-tempo, as well as two ballads that really show off a wide range of your voice and personality. Avoid singing along to karaoke music, dancing, or wearing a costume. Also be sure to select a song that matches the genre of the type of show you are auditioning for. If you are auditioning for “Grease” or “Hairspray” sing a fun song from the 50′s or 60′s that has a similar sound and style.
Singing a song from the show: Singing a song from the actual show can be good and bad. It will instantly show them if you should or should not be cast for that part. If you sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, they will know right away if you can or cannot play the role of Dorothy. We suggest giving them a chance to consider you for more roles as they get to know you. If they envision you for a particular role, they will call you back. At that time, you can “wow them” with a song from the show. We suggest that prior to the audition, you download the entire album of the show, and get familiar with the soundtrack. The casting staff will be impressed if you can bust out a song on request from the show.
What not to sing: Avoid singing “Happy Birthday”, singing a song you wrote, or a popular song that hundreds of kids might also sing like “Rolling in the Deep”. Save your Adele cover band act for mom and dad. Make sure your song is age appropriate and does not include any bad language.
Learn your words and music: Be prepaid and don’t read lyrics off a sheet of paper or off your phone! You have 30 seconds to stand out and be compared to hundreds of other kids for a role. If you can’t learn 30 seconds of a song, how can the director trust you with a part? Reading lyrics is a big no-no that provides no eye contact with the casting staff.
Work with your sheet music: If you are asked to sing with sheet music, make sure the music is in your key and that you practice in advance with the actual sheet music you plan to use at the audition. Have a friend who plays the piano make a recording of the accompaniment, so you can learn the intro, and be very prepared to sing 16 bars, as well as the entire song. Mark with a red pen where to start the song and end the 16 bars.
In many cases, kids may practice with sheet music they downloaded from the internet that may not be standard, allowing there to be a chance that they don’t know the correct intro, the correct timing or even the correct key! An accompanist should not be asked to change the key on the fly. Having funky music is a bad start to your audition and should be avoided.
Don’t say sorry!: A golden audition for kids tip is to never apologize. Even if you mess up, don’t say “I’m sorry”. Instead, just politely ask if you can start again. Casting will be determined on your character look, age, talent, and how you handle yourself on the set. Be focused and in control. Even if you’re sick, don’t say “I’m sick”, “I have a cold” or “I’m getting over a cold.” Even professionals go on when they are sick, and the show can’t stop for a head cold. If you are really too sick to audition, stay home and save your first impression for another time.
Don’t miss callbacks: If you get lucky enough to get called back, make sure you show up. Missing a call back is bad news, and typically results in the director casting someone else. Casting decisions that take place after auditions for kids can be a long and difficult process. Therefore, it may take a few meetings to get the part depending on the project.
Stay positive and keep trying: Just like you, several to hundreds of kids auditioning for the same project are hoping for the same outcome to land the best part or song. As many factors are determined in casting, actors should never take it personally. Keep auditioning, performing and attending classes, and at the right time, you will have your opportunity with the right project and the right role for you!
Join our SFCMT newsletter to receive information on how you can participate in our workshop, classes and exciting youth theater productions.
Join our newsletter to receive audition & show updates.
"We would like to thank John and the wonderful SFCMT staff for an over the top first time experience in your program. We are grateful to all of you for your dedication, commitment, and remarkable efforts to provide an amazing opportunity for young people from all around the Bay Area." Read more.