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Tiny Little Rooms

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Before LA I had this vision of what audition rooms looked like. I had seen them occasionally on a movie or TV show. But I figured that was the “small rooms”, the ones for actors in little nonunion projects. And I knew I would audition in lots of these “small rooms” on my way “up”…whatever the fuck I thought that meant. I also thought that as you went in for bigger and better projects that the rooms would get bigger. And prettier. And MAYBE, just MAYBE, the lights would not be fluorescent. 

Cut to LA: Yup. Small rooms. 

Oh but not just small. These things are tiny. Some are glorified janitor’s closets. Swear to god. And these rooms are where a lot of shit goes down that makes and breaks your career. And get this. The rooms for those “bigger and better” shows and films and commercials? Just as awful. They are often the same rooms just with different people in them.

In fact, a lot of TV is shot so quickly that they audition you in actual trailers on the network lots. The offices always look like they were thrown together yesterday. For some reason, I just really wish I had known this earlier. Something about knowing what the setting of an audition is really actually like makes it, well, less intimidating. So let me describe this for a new actor or someone who is just curious. 

Here is what is outside an audition room 95% of the time:

  • Zero Actor Parking (don’t get me started)
  • A sign-in list outside with a pen that doesn’t work
  • A few chairs, none of which are comfortable or functional…one office has 2 footstools….like wtf?
  • A casting assistant or intern sitting by said list or coming back to check it occasionally to call the next person in (fun fact, these are OFTEN actors too, be nice to them if for no other reason then that)

And inside:

  • A blank wall behind you, sometimes colored (I like remembering what colors they are so I don’t wear the same and become a floating head)
  • A small piece of tape on the floor where they want you to stand usually at the very least for your slate
  • MAYBE a camera light or two if you’re lucky. 
  • One camera on a tripod that always looks way too dated to be actually used for this big important Hollywood thing
  • Usually a desk with some scattered papers and lunch wrappers. Sometimes snacks or fruit.
  • The camera operator who is usually a casting assistant. 
  • People sitting behind said desk are usually the director/producer/CD/etc. 
  • A chair for you…sometimes.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rules. Network testing is basically an arena. And once, I walked into an actual theatre for a feature audition. But this is not the norm.

Guys. That’s it. 

Think about that for a second. We spend SO much time (and I am so guilty of this too trust me) worrying about what happens in these tiny, dirty, badly lit rooms. It’s laughable!!! And those casting people we are all so scared of? They have to SIT in those tiny rooms for hours on hours. Brings a little sympathy for the other side of the table huh?

I have to check myself a lot on this. I know that you’re thinking and you are correct, these rooms do make and break us. But they are also nothing WITHOUT US. Not to make this some soapbox but it just kinda hit me: we as actors bring the sparkle to these glorified closets!

How freaking empowering is that?! 

Now go feed your meter. 

Sam Valentine

About Sam Valentine

Sam is an actress based in LA from all over the midwest. She created and runs 1 Broke Actress, a website and podcast dedicated to the honest truth of the working actor life...basically to kill some free time...but also to help other people in this creative cluster-f*ck of a world feel a little less unstable and alone. She lives in Hollywood with her boyfriend and rescue dogs. Instagram: @samvalentine