I’m going to tell you the reasons folks you think are demonstrably average seem to work all the time.

And I’m also going to tell you how this information will make your auditions and overall creative expression more successful.

One time I was doing a show, and one of the leads was offensively average. Company members noticed. Crew noticed. I definitely noticed.

Management were delighted with them.

To seal the deal, this artist spoke matter of factly about their inherent belonging in the principal player echelons. (I think this was more of an anxiety thing than arrogance to be fair.)

I was an ensemble member, and (funny enough after just criticizing what this person said out loud), I thought I should be playing a principal role, too.

I worked with an acting coach at the time who saw the show, and I’ll never forget what she said:

“They stood for their work.”

What do you mean? They stood for their work?

It meant this:

They weren’t asking for anybody’s permission; they owned their performance, and there wasn’t any whiff of a question in the air whether or not they should be wearing those costumes and singing those songs.


This lights up a major lie that performers tell themselves. Wreaks havoc in general life, too: The Just World Belief.

Good things mean good outcomes. Bad = bad. And the world should be fair.

Extensive studies on both combat veterans and abuse survivors show that holding to this belief increases and prolongs PTSD symptoms.

Now please think about one actor acquaintance who carries this just world belief into every audition room.

Every table of deciders now holds the weight of universal justice in their hands, and with every heartbreaking opportunity, more evidence piles up with how unfair the world is.

The truth is — auditioning is not (and can’t) be a meritocracy. It’s decided by humans, and we are notoriously fickle. And it’s not a fair process.

I remember not booking a tour of Les Miserables and crying on my therapist’s couch because it was a dream of mine,

so I was sad.

But there was also a part of me that believed it should be my turn, and I deserved to get picked.

My advice — question this belief.

And notice the things in your life that work out well, when the odds skew ever in your favor.

We get so focused on how life has slighted us, we forget to notice that we can see, hear, walk, and have food to eat.

Dang, I still remember the time a cop just let me go in North Hollywood for talking on my Blackberry without a hands free contraption. She even said, “I don’t know why I’m doing this. These phones make me so mad.”

The next reason for all this audition mayhem is a very human thing that no one’s ever going to change — Middle School.

I’ll explain.

You’ve written a play, and you need folks. Who do you think of first? Your friends, people you KNOW.

If you have to look outside your familiar circle for roles or production support, what do you do? You ask your friends if they know somebody.

What are you looking for?

Someone who’s competent, kind, detail oriented and lives for stage management.

Can you imagine if you were interviewing a company manager, and the candidate said:

🙋🏼 Can you give me a chance to solve your problem? I mean, I don’t know how I’ll solve it, but just pick me?


🙄 Problem? I don’t see a problem here. And I’m amazing, so yeah, here I am. (Sits back and puts shod feet on desk.)


💙 Hey there. I get it — I see your problem. I’ve solved a lot of these before, and here’s how I can help you solve yours.

Who are you gonna sling a contract at that second and pray they’re available?

Yet actors often bring in versions 1 and 2 into rooms and then get frustrated that their results are crap.

It’s human to want people to pick you for stuff. We want to be chosen. It’s a natural and good desire. When my wife puts her hand on my back and says, “I love you,” I mean, that’s the stuff.

But if we’re talking about getting picked for shows, you need do 1 of 2 things:

Create positive emotional associations to yourself,


pick yourself.

Then create positive emotional associations to yourself. Because no matter how much you pick yourself, if you’re an asshole, no one will want to be in the trenches with you.

If this feels middle school, it’s because it is — because guess what middle schools are full of? People, just younger with under-developed prefrontal cortices.

This bears out in many rehearsal halls, too.

So what can you DO about this? How can you make your auditions and creative life more successful?

First, we are going to define a successful audition:

A successful audition means you prepare well, share the work with artistry, skill, and an open heart, and accomplish the goal you set for yourself in that meeting. It’s a clear preview of how you’d solve a casting problem, and it’s also a glimpse into the straightforward joy it will be to work with you.

That’s it. There’s no outcome component. You’re not going to get the job. Most of the jobs, we don’t get, so dispose of the lie that you have any direct control whatsoever over manipulating a casting decider into picking you.

For more on this, and to really set yourself free, read Audition Psych 101 by Michael Kostroff.

So, to have this successful audition, do this:

Number one, the folks you’re pissed about? Stop paying attention to them. They have nothing to do with you except what you can learn from them.

Number 2, this one’s real simple, but people discount it because it’s not shiny enough.

PREPARE THE SHIT OUT OF IT — and I mean prepare the shit out of it. This means that although you are holding your papers, you’re off book. You have your pitches, rhythms and lyrics in your body because you’ve taken the time to do it.

You understand this person you’re being on a cellular, empathetic, and experiential level.

Confidence only comes from competence, and that comes from your current skill level plus PREP.

And put yourself in the table people’s shoes — how do you feel when the person comes in PREPPED and READY? Exactly — good.

And go ahead and let this boost your ego. If you know you work harder than other folks, let that fuel you. Know that it will pay off because it has to in some way.

The same way that you don’t look for completely fair and equal measures based on your input and output, you can also know that there’s still cause-and-effect in the world.

If you put in the work, if you give away incredible work in the audition room, you’re going to get results. It can only have a compound interest.

If you go in and share fantastic skill with someone who makes casting decisions, and that particular project isn’t a fit for you, you’ve built up artistic goodwill with that decider. It’s just human that they’ll want to pay you back for your investment with them with more opportunities for future projects.

Ego is like butter, salt, heat, and sugar — a little conscious and measured addition in your recipe goes a long way.

Number 2A is also important, and that’s this: Be good.

Have a sober and humble estimation of your skills.

Video yourself. Get a good ears on your voice. Get a wise, incisive and kind acting coach on your storytelling.

What are your blind spots? What are your blocks?

Get in there and work on them and become the electric malleable and expressive performer that you yourself can trust to tell a story with honesty and power. If you know, you can do that, imagine the difference that will make when you walk into a room to share your solution to a casting problem.

And Number 3 —

Have something rich and meaningful going on in your life besides this audition.

Your performing career needs to thrive inside a rich and meaningful life. What do you have going on that gives life to you in life to those around you?

Sit down and write down what’s truly most important to you. Who are your people? Who do you love and who loves you?

And this is dramatic, but effective, and let’s face it, we’re dramatic. When you’re on your deathbed, is this audition or this show opportunity going to be the thing you’re thinking about?

If you’re at an appointment and you know that you have a writers’ meeting later that day on the project that you’ve put together or you’re going to meet up with that friend you haven’t seen in a long time, it’ll set you free to put things in context, and you won’t put value on things that you don’t need to put value on.

What is valuable is your preparation and showing up with excellence so that you prove to yourself that you’re a skilled and generous performer, who has a rich depth of artistry to bring to the table.

So, back to those folks booking all those jobs who clearly don’t deserve it and fill you with indignation. Here are some possibilities to weigh:

Maybe they’re better than you think they are. And maybe just because you understand what a good performance entails doesn’t mean that you’re delivering that yourself. I remember when I realized the gap between my intellectual understanding of the thing and my actual physical execution of that same thing. Ouch. And thank God.

Notice what’s in their energy. It might just be bravado, but there’s something in their energy that communicates “I don’t need this.” They’re not thirsty for connection at the party.

And remember, you don’t know their life. You’re judging a performance aesthetic and skill set, and you’re attaching meaning to their character. Stop doing that. Number one, it’s not your business, and number two, it’s a waste of your time while you could be working a messa di voce exercise to get your head and chest voice making terrific friends.

Comes back to work my acting coach Elizabeth said that time.

You’ve got to stand for yourself, and I’m convinced that having the skill, competence, and preparation underneath you is what will give you a substantial foundation that you can plant your feet on. Do that over and over, and great results will show up in your audition in creative life.

So get in there and do the work. There’s only one you, and folks need to hear the story on the you can sing. Now go sing.