“Is my attitude not getting me roles?” And Other Essential Questions for Actors

Written by Ashleigh Gardner

February 3, 2017

You’ll often hear directors or other actors talking about performers they can’t stand working with. “I hear he’s mean” and “I had a lot of issues with her during that show” are comments that you never want to be associated with your name. Ask yourself these questions every time you audition for a show and accept a new role. You’ll thank yourself later, and your fellow artists will be impressed with your professionalism and self-awareness.

1. Are you calm and professional in the audition room?

The audition is the first time directors and other performers see you. If you’re loud and obnoxious in the waiting area and rude in the audition room, this signals to them that you might be a handful to work with. Instead of acting like you’ve already gotten the role, graciously thank the audition staff and directors for their time.

2. Do you flaunt your role?

After you’ve gotten the part, it’s important to realize that just because you got the lead role doesn’t mean you’re the most important person in the cast. A show is composed of many different working parts, cast and crew included, and everyone is essential. Everyone knows you’ve got the role; why say anything else? Show up. Don’t show-off.

3. Are you polite to cast and crew alike?

A little bit of kindness goes a long way. When you encounter cast and crew on and off the stage, don’t ignore them or introduce sarcasm or antagonism into the conversation. Instead, say, “Hello!”, ask them how they’re doing, and wish them a good day. You’ll find that you’ll feel better about yourself, too, when you foster positive relationships with others.

4. Do you respect other artists’ time and efforts?

Actors, technicians, designers, and production management are all artists, so respect them the way you would want you to be treated. Going to be late? Don’t automatically assume people will wait for you. Call the stage manager and inform them that you’ll be late. It shows that you’re dedicated and respectful of everyone’s time. Also, when you’re handling costumes and props, be careful with everything you touch. This shows respect for the designers’ craft and creative efforts.

5. Are you willing to help out when needed?

If the prop, set, or costume department needs extra hands, make an effort to help out. After all, actors and technicians work on the same show. Any missing piece will reflect back on the entire production, not just the design department. Additionally, in some cases, if you’re being paid as an actor, learning one of these trade skills may also earn you a slightly larger paycheck. (But don’t let the prospect of cash overwhelm your altruism.)

6. Do you gossip?

We’ve all been in situations when we hear that so-and-so said this or so-and-so said that. Don’t give into the temptation of gossiping about other performers in your show. This could ruin the reputation of someone who has worked their whole life to get where they are, and once something is said about someone…it’s very hard to take it back, even if it’s not true. Save yourself the embarrassment of being the community gossip, and save someone else’s reputation by refusing to participate in slandering their name.

7. Do you know the difference between pride and pretension?

Pride is okay! Having pride in your work and your abilities as a performer are essential when it comes to theatre. You must be confident and keep pushing yourself to tackle those seemingly unsurmountable obstacles. However, pretension is something that actors fall into when they can’t control their pride. Pretension is when an actor won’t work with another actor based on a personal disagreement, or when an actor thinks they’re “too good” for something. (It’s okay to work only for paying shows. After all, this is a business.) But don’t get caught up in pretension over pride. You’ll have a nasty fall.

8. Are you real?

All of these questions aside, are you truly being a kind, compassionate, understanding, and honest individual, or are you simply putting on a mask of sincerity? If the way you treat others on and offstage doesn’t feel real, like being nice and welcoming, ask yourself why it doesn’t. Are you unhappy? Do you feel uncomfortable about something? Are you afraid? Seek to make those human connections with your cast and crew more honest and open. After all, theatre is supposed to be a safe haven for artists. Do your best to maintain that compassionate community you call home.

Need some advice? We’ve got you covered.

Ashleigh Gardner received her AA in Theatre/Drama/Dramatic Arts from Valencia College and her Bachelors Degree in English Literature and Masters Degree in Literary, Cultural, and Textual Studies from the University of Central Florida. She is a playwright, an actor, and PerformerStuff.com’s Editor.