My Miami audition in a nutshell: Tai-chi, nude photos, and Jumbo-Me.
It all started a couple weeks ago when an audition request from Casting Networks fell into my inbox. (If you don’t have a Casting Networks account, create one! It’s free!) It was for a commercial for a tech company that would shoot in Miami. And they were specifically looking for Chinese actors. Hey, that’s me!
Unfortunately, the auditions were also being held in Miami and they were not accepting self tapes. This is where I would normally decline the request and go about the rest of my day. I’m not a big fan of travelling long distances for auditions. Callbacks, sure, but not initial auditions. That’s what technology is for! Let actors self tape! *takes step off soapbox*
But this particular opportunity made me think twice for a few reasons:
- It was for a pretty high paying job so if I could find a decent plane ticket, going to the audition would be a low-risk/high-reward bet on myself
- As I mentioned earlier, they were specifically seeking Chinese actors so I can’t imagine they’d be getting a tidal wave of submissions
- I hadn’t been to Miami since I was a kid so this was a chance to visit a beautiful city and perhaps even spend some time on the beach in January
So after some deal hunting on the interwebs, I was able to find a last minute plane ticket for $200 and a cheap Airbnb for $35/night. Not terrible. But not awesome either. This audition was going to cost me over $300… But at this point, I was trying to see it as a mini vacation. Besides, if I did end up getting cast, it would make up for it many times over. I booked the flight.
Four days later, I arrived in Miami to a forecast of cloudy with a chance of rain. The next morning, I woke up to this.
A straight up monsoon. One of the other Airbnb guests (it was a shared apartment), a young college kid, kept saying “Dude, holy shit” while staring at the downpour. He, quite obviously, had never been to Cleveland.
Well, so much for a beach vacation. But there was no time to cry about a little bit of water falling from the sky. I needed to get dressed; it was audition day!
On my way to the audition studio, my Lyft driver informed me that this was the most rain they’ve had in the past three months. Was it a sign that luck would most definitely not be on my side today? We shall see.
I arrived at the location fifteen minutes early like a good little actor and the people there were still setting up. The guy at the check-in table told me I was the first audition of the week. Of the week? Yes. What do you mean? First out of 300 actors that will be coming to audition for this. Wonderful…
Guess I was wrong about the lack of submissions.
So, what are the chances that after seeing 300 people they even remember the person that was first? As I sat there wondering the answer to that question, more actors started filing into the audition room. And that’s when things started getting weird.
The Waiting Room
Every actor was asked to fill out an info sheet when they arrived. Contact info, union status, clothing sizes, etc. Pretty standard stuff. Now the first actor that walked in after me didn’t know his inseam measurement. The second, didn’t know her hips. In fact, of the six actors that came in before I was called into the audition room, half didn’t know some of their sizes.
Really? Ok, let’s not even talk about how important it is to know your measurements as an actor. How does a grown man not know his inseam? How has he been buying pants his entire life? Does he wear togas everywhere he goes? (If so, I’d like to subscribe to his newsletter) Anyway, that was only the beginning.
Of those same six actors, another three didn’t bring headshots. They didn’t bring headshots. To an audition. Hold on. It gets better. One guy in particular, who was dressed in a three piece suit, had a folder in his hand that you would THINK was where he kept his headshots. Nope. When the check-in guy asked for his headshot, he said he didn’t bring one. “But,” he said, “I do have this.” And he opened his folder revealing a professionally shot nude photo. The look on check-in guy’s face was priceless as he stuttered “That’s…uh…inappropriate.” To which three piece suit replied “Oh, ok.” and sat down without a hint of embarrassment.
An older gentleman then came in and after filling out the info sheet and handing in his headshot (fully clothed), decided not to sit in one of the many available chairs in the room. Instead, he thought it perfectly normal to start practicing tai chi in the middle of everyone.
Does this type of stuff happen in Miami on the regular? Old people doing impromptu tai chi exercises in public and young people carrying around nude photos of themselves everywhere they go? Before I had a chance to Google the answers, my name was called and I made my way into the audition room. But not before seeing Jumbo Me walk in the front door. Jumbo Me was like Mini Me from Austin Powers but the reverse. He looked just like me but a half foot taller and a hundred pounds heavier. Other than that, same glasses, same checkered shirt and blazer, same haircut. It was a bit unnerving. I can just imagine the director watching my audition and thinking to himself – hmmm, he’s good but if only he were significantly larger in every way.
I can honestly say that this was the first time I walked into an audition room feeling like I was being punk’d.
Oh that’s right, I haven’t talked about the actual audition yet. Well, they asked me “Can you tell us about yourself” then took a couple digital photos and it was over. In and out in under five minutes. After flying all the way down from Cleveland, I couldn’t help but feel a little cheated. But that’s how it goes sometimes.
Walking back through the waiting area did lift my spirits, though, as I was reminded that half my competition was either unprepared, unprofessional, or just plain crazy.
Tai chi guy was still doing his thing. Nude photo guy was actually nowhere to be found; maybe he finally figured out that the Chippendales audition was in the next building over. And I didn’t make eye contact with Jumbo Me for fear of disturbing the space time continuum.
This audition experience was definitely a unique one for me and I think it also offers up a strong message to beginner actors:
Any actor who knows his/her measurements, remembers to bring headshots, and is not clinically brain dead, is already miles ahead of half the people that show up to auditions.
Fingers crossed that I book this job and get to come back to a much sunnier Miami. But even if that doesn’t happen, it was still a pretty fun trip. I mean, I did have this view later that evening:
Got any weird audition stories? Please share below!
Oh, and if you’re an actor and you want to avoid these audition mishaps and look like a pro in front of casting directors, download my FREE Ultimate Audition Cheat Sheet!