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Austin Actors
Mamie Meek

Why I Love Auditions!
by Mamie Meek

October 2001

"I've had people walk out on me before, but not when I was being so charming."

That quote from Harrison Ford in "Blade Runner" says it for me. Have you, as an actor, ever asked yourself a similar question after a particularly, well, satisfying audition?

Yep, how can we NOT get a part after we do everything "just right" and know we were following all the "guidelines from the best of the best authorities" on the subject?

Well, I say it doesn't matter whether or not we get the part! The process itself - connecting with the Muse -- matters. Experiencing different characters and new directors also matters, if we are to continue to build our skills and hone our talents.

I love auditions. It doesn't matter what the part is - not even what gender the role is supposed to be! As an actor, I have limitless creativity to build my experience into any identity and make it real.

Not long ago, I was reading the great little book entitled "Audition" by Michael Shurtleff. He said the same thing I feel:

"I think an actor should audition every damn chance he gets. If you're twenty-three and blond and you get a chance to audition for an 80-year-old brunette grandmother, go and audition."

I happen to believe the converse is true: We might be older and audition for a younger role. We might be interesting looking instead of beautiful. Whatever we decide to be, I believe we bring a unique quality to the role (in film or on stage).

If we have the training and confidence to draw from our deep wells of personal experience, we bring the priceless quality of believability to a role that would otherwise be flat or "phony."

As someone who has been an actor since childhood, I have always loved the craft. Every single day I learn something new to increase my base of possible characters for the future. I've had talented teachers from the time I was five years old. The best one of all -- my current coach and friend, Mona Lee - encourages my open attitude toward auditions.

Auditions are a wonderful opportunity to flex my acting muscles. Not long ago, I had two auditions scheduled a day apart. Happily, the first audition resulted in a better role than the one for which I originally auditioned! I felt an immediate connection with the director. It was a glorious feeling of stretching my experience as he directed me toward his vision of the character. I walked away from that audition with a timeless feeling of well-being and gratitude for the opportunity to exercise my creativity.

Each audition has a unique environment, for a variety of reasons. When I went to the second audition, I embraced the opportunity, as always. It was done in a professional manner, and the director seemed extremely talented and courteous. He called when he said he would to let me know I had not been selected for the role. He was very encouraging and sincere.

How did I feel after the second audition? Well, true, the "magical" connection was missing I had experienced with the director at the first audition. However, I still walked away from Audition #2 feeling happy and gratified I'd had the opportunity to work and receive feedback. The reward comes when the director/auditor gives feedback regarding range of characterization, scope of talent, or insights. I believe there is little value in finding out why I was not chosen for a role because the process is entirely subjective. (Important fact to remember when fending off the demons of rejection!)

As a "40-something" woman, I keep hearing from some people in the business that parts are hard to come by for my "category." I do not understand that since there are more women "in my category" (with money to spend at the movies and theater) than ever before in history! We have stories! And our numbers are growing, not diminishing.

So, until there are more of us "in my category" out there making movies and ensuring "art reflects life," I will continue to satisfy my insatiable passion through the process of auditions! Directors everywhere: Thank you for the opportunity to audition.

Well, maybe I will write a screenplay . . .

By Mamie Meek
Filmfan@austin360.com

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