How To Get An Audition and Lose It

Some actors can win, and then lose auditions online as easily as Donald Trump insults via a tweet.


Paul Russell

Some actors can win, and then lose auditions online as easily as Donald Trump insults via a tweet.

While casting the AEA national tour of a popular musical, a non-union actor’s submission earned attention from among the slush pile of submissions from non-represented actors. The email rose above the first-class talent representation submissions by agencies and managers.

He began well in his initial email submission:


“Hello Paul! I’m reaching out to you about the production of
*****. I have done the show… as the male understudy for all roles…”


Great! I thought. Hiring one understudy for all five of the male roles was a challenge. Various musical instruments are required to be played among the characters. If the actor’s audition was spot-on there’s one major puzzle piece solved. Give him an audition ASAP! But…

The actor wasn’t available for a live audition. I requested he place himself on-camera. A deadline was given. The deadline passed. 9 days overdue. No e-audition received. I contacted the actor again with a reminder. I detailed that the producer and creative team were aware of his interest. There was serious interest on our part. The actor replied:


“Hey Paul! Thanks for following up. Can I ask you about the understudy position? Are there guaranteed performances?”


My response:


“Hello Dirk,

The understudies presently under contract are not guaranteed performances. The contract offers paid weeks, per diem, travel, and hotel accommodations. My discussing more than what the contract presents is premature without first having audition material from the actor.”


His response?


“Hey Paul! Sorry if I have not been forthcoming with the specific tapes. I didn’t want to send it until I was sure I would take the job (if offered). Since there are no promised performances at this time I cannot take an understudy position.”

My initial reaction was, why did you submit for the position?! But, I restrained. I made aware the producer and creative team of the actor passing on the audition, and his reason.

Several days later an additional date was added to the production which precluded a signed principal from performing that added performance. I reached out to the producer to ask if I should inquire of the actor who passed on auditioning because there was no guarantee of a performance but now there was. The producer’s reply? A single sentence:


“I’m totally turned off by the email response.”


Don’t submit for an audition and then try to negotiate the contract prior to your audition. You’ll lose as did this actor. He lost the producer. He lost the director. He lost the musical director. He lost this casting office. He lost potential work that would have kept him employed for 7 months. Next.

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned over 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 taught master classes at dozens of acting programs at universities including Hofstra, Elon, Wright State University, and Rutgers. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information on Paul’s projects, visit

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Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

Love Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
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(The InternHamiltonNBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, Wicked)
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and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
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Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
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Harden-Curtis & Associates
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KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
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Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!


Author: Paul Russell

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