Pilot Season and Keeping Your Sanity

A little guide to give you sense of mind and how to handle one or multiple auditions

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Pilot season is here!! Yay! Or depending on what side you’re on… sorry? I will get through this. I will get through this… I will…. coffee. I’m keeping all of you in my good thoughts and hope it goes smoothly for EVERYONE. 

So it’s February… everyone is all done with the holidays and Sundance (thanks Audrey for pointing out why January was “slow”… let’s get busy!

So as an actor, this might be your first pilot season (woohoo!!)… this may be your eighth(woohoo…)… Keep your sanity and realize, you must be patient, you are actually doing it. You haven’t given up. Don’t. Don’t you give up, now now now. Thanks, Biebs.

Here are somethings you can do to help you with your sanity. These are just kind of things that I’ve come to realize and understand and accept (begrudgingly) but embrace (lovingly) because then I don’t drive myself crazyyyy. 

Understand that right now, they’re casting the stars, the ones who are carrying the show… In a perfect world, everyone gets the chance to audition for every part, but there are sooooo many factors beyond us that dictate what you might be going in for and there aren't 23509845 hours in a day. It might break your heart (it broke mine!) but we might be auditioning for a role we absolutely love and are dying for… but they already have an offer out to a really hot star… and then another offer after that, and another after that. Those things take time for it to trickle down to you but, they might not! EVERY SITUATION IS DIFFERENT. They really just want to find THE ONE who IS that character, and that’s where you come in! That’s where the magic happens, that’s the dream. And let’s dream sooooo big! But also, know there’s the business side of it. Fortunately, there’s a lot of work to be had with new platforms and the networks and audiences are so open and responding to new and fresh faces! (No, really!) It’s awesome and such an exciting time to be an actor!!

Remember: We each will have different opportunities for different reasons. My past two years of actually participating in pilot season, once was insanely busy, the other not so much. Trends, resume, look, whatever. There’s always something as to why it works and why it doesn’t. It’s a wave.

So. You might get one appointment, you might get none. You have a really dry three weeks, then get one suddenly the next day and then suddenly you have 3 appointments one day. That’s reading 3 scripts, learning and breaking down three different characters, sometimes with two or three scenes… it’s a lot of work! And I don’t know about you, but I tend to get overwhelmed and go a little cray-cray when I see 19-tasks and counting. I learned last year the hard way, but took everything in stride and made it very efficient for myself. These were somethings that helped me get through and not “deal”, but handle the situation that I was given.

1. Four appointments in two days? No problem. Don’t stress! "Baby.... this is what you came for!" SING IT RIHANNA. This is what you wanted right? To work. WE GOT THIS! Let's do this! 

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2. Especially don’t stress when your friends are being called in and you aren’t. That’s number 1.2. What works for them, may not work for you. I live by the mantra, YOU DO YOU, BOO! What works for me, probably won’t work for you. Everyone’s situation is different. Everyone’s timing is different. My experiences and your experiences are different from yours and the next person. Be careful and cautious if you compare auditions with actor friends, especially if you might be the same “type”. It’s very easy for us as actors to discuss, “are you going out?” “I went in for XXX, did you go in for XXX, too?” I’m guilty of it!!! You might be guilty, and if you’re in denial, I can’t help you. I think it's our way of validating ourselves that we are in the mix. Some of us are confident and know the game and others aren’t. I personally try to be conciencious of it. We all go in for different reasons. If you have a friend who auditions for a lot of things you do or it may have happened just once… awesome! Yay friends! We are auditioning and making it!!! But, it can be sensitive topic. It might be best to keep it to yourself. Then it becomes a competition, “well I went in for this” and rather than a happy sharing of, “guess what!” Then it becomes a, “well I want it…” “well I want it, too…” “no, I want it more than you!” and then it just becomes a weird thing it shouldn’t, and then they cast a male in the role you both so desperately wanted, so there is that. Let's all just be happy for each other! We all rise together! We are the next generation! Remember that! <3 

3. Ideally, you don’t want to share too much period… I’m always careful what I share among friends and extremely careful what I post on social media-- especially about bookings and the same should go for auditions. Auditions now even have disclaimers aka NDA's, “do not to post sides online or send to anyone or share with anyone. Do not tell anyone about your audition.” You would think that’s common sense NOT to write, “auditioning for this show, my character does blah blah blah…” … but life is hard for some people. If you're not sure you can share something? Don’t.

4. I don’t know about you… but I get really overwhelmed easily. I go into panic mode and can’t focus and am worried about the other thing I need to be doing and not giving 100% to what I am doing. Example: If you have two appointments in one day. Stay calm. Compartmentalize. I remember this happened. I had 5 auditions in two days, and was running around like a crazy person. That was like five scripts, and everything was like, 5-7 pages and all the characters were all so different. Then I said. NO. Calm down. This is what you’ve been wanting, you are a professional and can handle this. So — I LOVE TO DO LISTS! It gives me a sense of control in life. Make your to-do list. All the roles are important. I usually start with the thing that is more “me”, so I start comfortable with something I can drop into quickly so I give myself that moment to feel happy and connected that “hey! your’e doing a great job!” … then move on to more difficult characters so I don’t exhaust myself too early on. I don’t know about you, but a three-page audition that is filled with emotion (like, oh, my toddler has cancer and I just lost my husband in a car accident and I’m getting evicted!) is one of the most tiring things you can do not just as an actor, but just as a person. Imagining and putting yourself in that situation, and believing it living it? That’s so hard. Prayers for all of those experiencing grief. I’m a generally happy person and as an actor,  I have the luxury of choosing when to live and experience that dark space, so I usually try to stay there for as short a period a time as I can but that’s draining. I’ve learned the hard way. 

**Recently, I discovered the “Pomodoro Technique” and wish I had it then to be able to use it. Make a list of things to be done, focus on one at a time, and set a timer for 25 minutes and then take a short break. If you feel satisfied with your work, check it off and move to the next. If you need more time, simply keep studying in 25 minute increments. I find that studying and working on a piece for 1-3 hours straight can be exhausting, especially when it’s intense emotional work, but you can’t stop until it’s ready. You’re focusing, it’s work. 

 I love my Create365 Happy Planner!&nbsp;

I love my Create365 Happy Planner! 

5. Have a Game-Day plan ready. If you have multiple appointments in one day, map it out, know where you’re going. Don’t rely on google maps but be generally aware of where you’re going. Know your time frames, and when you must leave your appointment to get to the next to permit for parking, walking the lot, etc. Casting will post in your appointment where to go.

6. Have five headshots ready to go and read everything. Keep them in your planner or in your car. Read your appointment information carefully. Sometimes (I’m noticing more often than not) they don’t want headshots, sometimes they want one, sometimes they want three, don’t be that person that was like “Oh, I thought you were a paperless office.” *Eyeroll* Also, don’t forget your sides! Sometimes there won’t be any (casting made a note in your appointment, “bring your own sides”)… so read everything. I know one of my favorite offices has an allergy to perfume…  so they put that in the appointment info. I’m sure those who don’t follow directions are remembered for other reasons.

7. Have your laundry always done! I learned this the hard way, stressing over doing laundry of my outfit the night before. Sometimes you get an appointment at 6 p.m. and it’s a four-page heavy scene 9 a.m. appointment… meaning, you better be up at 5:30 and leave that house by 7:15 at the latest. “Lucy, where is my white collarless shirt from Fred Segal?!!!”  Not worrying if that dress is clean helps ease your mind and help you focus on the material. 

8. Have your outfits ready to go. I invested in an industrial steamer and was the best idea ever. It helps with business attire, t-shirts, dresses, my blue self-tape sheet… you name it. I would do it the night before, sometimes the steam can look wet for a few minutes and can cause unnecessary stress that your outfit isn’t picture perfect. Lay out all your jewelry and accessories. If you have multiple appointments, steam and hang up your clothes in your car the night before, that way you’re not teetering with all your headshots, bag, coffee, jacket, with clothes. I say this because I’ve learned the hard way. :D 

9. If you’re a lady, wear flats driving and to your appointment and change when you get there if you know you can’t walk in heels across those lots. You can rack up those daily steps! Put your heels in the car the night before so you don’t even have to think about it. 

10. Oh. Don’t wear a dress that has a censor attached to it, it’s a little awkward. Again. I learned the hard way.

11. Schedule out your hair and makeup routine for the morning. I have curly hair I have to blow dry, so I try to do a rough blow out the night before, then fix it again in the morning and do the heat styling I need to do. Then I move on to makeup. I typically have one standard makeup look, but depending on the character, may add or take off a brighter/darker shade of lipstick or add more liner, but usually it isn’t necessary. Have your audition makeup bag packed, too, for last minute touch ups. 

12. When you have multiple appointments, focus wholly and fully and trust your preparation and work will show through. Zoom in and focus. It’s 5 minutes of your day to show casting your interpretation of why you might be right for the job. It’s an easier concept said than done, I know, it seems like there is a lot on the line, and there is. But don’t think about that and focus on your work and being present. 

13. Bring a snack. Obviously, you know how your body reacts to coffee, food, before/after auditions. Sometimes, an audition runs behind…I went in to an appointment on a light stomach so I would have energy… well, two hours later (lots of kids were being seen, too), I was still in the waiting room. I lost all my energy and was starving and couldn’t take the redirect. It was for a series regular, I just wasn’t prepared or ready like I should have been, so I learned the hard way. Always have something with you. Also, L.A. traffic period… always have something with you. And water! 

14. HEADPHONES. Need I say more? Whatever your method is, this can help. See what I did up there?

15. Waiting room. SOOO.... this can be awkward... It can be either be a basket of bunnies or a like a lions den. Depending on what it is, you may want to catch up with a familiar face… you may not. We all need to respect each other and the way we work. I remember my agent gave me advice when I went in for one of my first series regular auditions, she said “don’t worry about anybody else.” This was great advice. It’s okay to be selfish and focusing on your JOB. I went on to a callback and essentially what sort of turned out to be a small test so yay! 

16. Enjoy it! You’re doing what you love! 

17. Move on. You did (hopefully) what you wanted. You gave them your interpretation and that’s the best you can do. What else do you have to give? Go about your day and forget about it. Feel good about what you’ve done, but you can’t obsess and go and focus on your next audition. Easier said than done, I know. “They’ll call… they can book me last minute…” Not so much. “I was so good! It’s meant to be… I’m so right, it’s so mine!” I’m saying that, and so are 14,000 other girls my age… and only one of us books it. 

Look. We all just want to work. Some parts we want more than others because you connect. Just like watching your favorite tv show, you fall in love with a character. Well, we are lucky in that we get to audition for a character that we fall in love with and have the chance to experience life as this character… a character other people get to feel connected to and fall in love with! How amazing. But sometimes, it just isn’t meant to be. My friend Emily told me once when you don’t book things, “that was a really great story, but it may not be your story.” That stuck with me and I love it. Know that there will be more and one of those future stories will be yours. Have faith that there’s going to be another show or movie that is casting next week, and maybe you’ll be called in for that one, and that one will make you forget about the last one! Maybe your friend booked it! How awesome is that?! You have to look at the silver lining. 

I know, trust me, I understand how hard it is to keep going, to stay motivated. It’s a daunting task to keep hearing no, and most of the time, we don’t even know why we’re getting a no! But just because you get a no, doesn’t mean no forever, just not right now. Keep your sanity. You’re getting through it, one line at a time. 

So, moral of the story? Have fun, be prepared (lines and laundry included) and don’t you give up! 

Dream big and shine bright, darlings! 

Xox, Alyssa