When I was starting out as an actor, I understood it was a common practice for actors to lie when asked by directors or casting directors about their skill-set. Dance the rumba? You bet! Snow shoe? Since I was five! Ice skate? Just call me Apollo Ono! All to get the part. Forget if that actor took debate not dance and grew up in southern Arizona, no one wants to be looked over for the job. No one wants to be found lacking. A teacher in college told us to always say yes, if “they” ask. Lie your face off if you have to, if it gets you the part. Oh, and then learn to ice skate overnight.
After working and auditioning in the real world, that way of selling yourself seems…dubious, to say the least.
I believe in owning your strengths and your weaknesses. To do this requires unashamed honesty with yourself and with others. Have confidence in what you do well. And for those things you might not do brilliantly (double pirouettes, anyone?), be honest about your lack of experience but be brave enough to try and give it your all. Never apologize, and never make excuses. You are probably better at it than you think. In my experience, directors have always responded positively to a go-get-em attitude and a very good sense of humor. NO ONE should fault you for trying. If they do, they are jerks and you don’t want to work with them anyway. For example, I am an actor who dances; I was trained at an acting conservatory, I shouldn’t be made to feel like a failure (by others or by myself) because I didn’t take a class that trained me to be the next Maria Tallchief. I dance well for someone with my level of experience, I’m a quick study and I am always eager to learn more. I own that. I can’t do the splits, and never could, even in gymnastics at age 11, my doubles need work and I don’t have a good vocabulary when it comes to ballet. I own that too.
Here’s another thing, directors need to know what you can or cannot do. That’s the whole point of auditioning. They’re not going to get an accurate idea of your range or skills from a resumé buffered with, shall we say, baloney. Directors aren’t much different from the average consumer; none of us like to spend money on things that are falsely advertised.
Don’t sell yourself short. But don’t over-sell either. Work hard on those short-comings and feel good about yourself for taking the initiative! We are all works in progress. A side note on that: Aspire to excellence, not perfection! Excellence is achievable. Perfectionism is a disorder. Take it from a recovering Perfectionist…