Surprising Actor “Must-haves” for Successful Auditions

[Author’s Note: This post is not related to April Fools Days]

What was the most recent occasion in which you pocketed condoms to an audition? 2% of actors responding to a poll on what actors need for a comfortable audition are Trojan-toting warriors hoping to spear a part. What part, remains questionable. Breath spray and/or mints are often associated with the condom response…

Audition Actors

What was the most recent occasion in which you pocketed condoms to an audition? 2% of actors responding to a poll on what actors need for a comfortable audition are Trojan-toting warriors hoping to spear a part. What part, remains questionable. Breath spray and/or mints are often associated with the condom response.

Excluding an actor’s headshot and audition material actors participating in the survey were asked to list in order of importance what they bring to auditions to comfort and help them succeed for what is often remarked as the most awkward of job interviews. Some “Must-haves” items submitted are eyebrow raising. But the #1 auditioning actor “must-have” is one you may unknowingly carry into an audition studio as a priority.

Water: the #1 “Must-have” for auditions according to the actor’s polled. In personal bottles or commercially branded, actors overwhelmingly responded with the need for hydration at an audition. Hydration reduces stress as is routinely documented in studies. Dehydration raises stress levels.

“Studies have shown that being just half a liter dehydrated can increase your cortisol levels,” says Amanda Carlson, RD in an interview on WebMD. Carlson is director of performance nutrition at Athletes’ Performance, a trainer of world-class athletes.

“Cortisol is one of those stress hormones,” Carlson continues. “Staying in a good hydrated status can keep your stress levels down. When you don’t give your body the fluids it needs, you’re putting stress on it, and it’s going to respond to that.” Sufferers of clinical depression are often instructed to maintain hydration as part of their therapy to mental wellness.

A prevailing thematic response of the polled actors placed mental comfort, and calming distractions as a priority at auditions. Music, books, and personal journals were the dominate distractions actors bring to auditions. If a fully prepared actor insists, while waiting for their escort into an audition studio, on constant visualization of what is to come minutes before the audition itself; stress levels increase. Confidence begins prior to arrival. The prepared actor reduces the nagging importance of each audition by having a comforting distraction such as a book or music. Importance of advancement is to be for an actor’s overall career; not each audition within the career.

Other items of comfort polled for an actor at an audition include objects most actors may not consider relevant to personal success. But for a number of actors unusual is the norm. Among the eyebrow raising “Must-have” items are:

“Clean underwear” (Underwear was quite popular including the response, “My lucky underwear.”)

“My statement lipstick” (“Maybe it’s Maybelline” does not an actress make.)

“I wear special socks for luck”

“Playbill from the first musical I was in”

“Constant texts from my girlfriend” (Codependency vibrating in your pocket.)

“My fake front tooth”

PollAnswersExcluding periodontal necessities luck and spirituality is key to comfort for a number of the responding actors. Whether found in a believed-to-be lucky heirloom, energizing crystals and/or minerals, physical distance from fellow actors, or as one actor responded, “Open heart and clear mind as much as possible” all items physical or psychological are each borne by faith and hope. Objects themselves like the dozen crystals and minerals lining the shelf over my desk are not the deliverers of fortune. The bearers’ belief is what comforts and motivates.

What items of comfort for success each actor brings to auditions is unique in that the actor has an individual reasoning for being accompanied by the object or thought of faith. While Actor A and B may both tote bottled water to an audition Actor A may do so because buying bottled water is beyond their budget.
Actor B does so for the necessity of hydration and comfort.

Bring to each audition what is most important to your comfort and success. Your peers may provide you laundry lists of audition “Must-haves.” Those lists contain only what is important to their comfort, not yours.

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Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Elon and Wright State University. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit

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