Acting Audition Tips: John Marshall Jones’s Acting Audition Tip of the Week

In one week it will officially be summer. This is when the audition and casting industry usually goes into hibernation and takes the rest of the acting auditioning world with it. Casting directors and talent agents go on vacation to wind down from a hectic audition season and try to recharge before TV season starts up again in August. All of Hollywood just goes on vacation. This is the time where an actor can relax or use this opportunity to get busy.

Personally, my acting advice is that I don’t believe a working actor can ever afford to relax. Even though Will Smith, Tom Cruise, don’t go on acting auditions they rarely take time off to relax. They’re always ramping up for the next project. What that tells me is there is no point in your acting career where you can just kick back and enjoy the fruits of your labors. That’s called retirement and we ain’t there yet baby!

My theory is ‘it’s impossible to add to something everyday and end up with nothing’. So far it’s worked out pretty well. I simply refuse to let a day go by where I don’t do something to add value to my acting career. It may be something really simple like auditing online acting classes or reading up on acting advise from successful actors in the biz. No matter how well you’re doing you can never know too much. Exactly what I’m doing isn’t nearly as important as the fact that I’m doing something, so in my mind and heart my dream of being a successful actor stays alive for another day. I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it. I believe it and that’s what counts.

Imagine your dream right now. What could you be doing today to make sure that it knows you still believe in it? Signing up for summer acting classes? Writing your own personal monologue to use in your acting auditions? No matter how small, you are taking ACTION. That action may not turn into exactly what you want it to, but will never turn into nothing. I can guarantee you that. Summer is a great time to start planning a fall acting project or researching what films or tv shows or plays will be going into production, who’s casting and how you can get in to audition. It’s a great time to re-establish relationships that may benefit you by turning into acting auditions in the future. Making a few phone calls or making it out to some industry networking events can be fun and can put you in the flow of information about upcoming acting audition opportunities. Whatever it is you choose to do, while everyone else is relaxing, get busy! The rest of your career starts right now.

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Lebron’s Shot heard round the world

Everyone who watched the post game press conference heard it. It even took me a little by surprise. It seemed like he was saying, “Go back to your miserable little lives, I’m still LeBron and you’re not!”. I’ve read it over and over again to make sure that I didn’t miss something but then I remembered what I felt when I heard him speak and that’s what it felt like. It actually felt like he pulled it back just a bit. He spoke about everyone having their personal problems and inferred that once the haters are no longer getting joy out of his pain that they’ll have to return to the problems of their own lives. My question is, “what’s so wrong with that?”

Why are we so inflamed about wanting to see someone else NOT achieve their goals and dreams? And what does that say about the amount of energy and focus we’re putting into achieving our own. I don’t know LeBron personally but I do know three things for sure.

1) He was gifted with an enormous amount of God given athletic ability.
2) He has put in an extraordinary amount of work to get to where he is.
3) Like all of us, the young man still has work to do mentally, spiritually and emotionally to reach and experience his true potential. (Working on a pull up jumper and a post game wouldn’t hurt either)

What can we take away from this firestorm he’s created for himself? It seems to me that the more energy I put into other people living their dreams the less I have for my own. It also seems that the more time I spend rooting against someone else the more it feels like I’m rooting against myself. Why not take that energy and put it into your own hopes and dreams? Why not take that time and really think about where you want your life to go, make a plan of how to get there, then put every ounce of your being into executing your plan? That’s really what LeBron is saying after all. No athlete should become a substitute for our own dreams. We don’t have to find our fulfillment through someone else’s success or failure. Why not follow LeBron’s example and discover our innate god given abilities, work as hard as we can to express those to the fullest and speak truth in the face of adversity?

Public humiliation is hard to swallow and LeBron just received his with two scoops.Did he handle it gracefully, no. Did any of us handle things gracefully in our 20’s? Of course not. Personally, I was a fool till I turned 40. I just didn’t know it. I don’t mind that he’s not contrite. I don’t expect it. He didn’t get to where he is by backing down from a challenge. I am also not going to invest any of my God given creative energies into hoping for his further public humiliation. He got his. Maybe it’s time for us to focus in and go get ours too.

NBA Finals and auditioning

Well the NBA finals are over. I want to say congratulations to all the Dallas fans. The Mavs were amazing and Miami was, well, disappointing. Even the most talented people can fall short in the big moment. So much goes into being great in the moment. It’s easy to fall short if you’re not properly prepared. It’s also possible to be great, even if you aren’t the most talented. With proper preparation and focused intent anyone can find the greatness within them. It’s a lesson that I’ve encountered over and over again in life.

Acting and auditioning are performance arts just like athletics. I find myself constantly looking for how to prepare myself better for the moment. It always comes back to one thing, FOCUS. If I can get myself focused and get prepared, then I know for certain that I will be on top of my game when I get to the audition.

The audition is like the elimination game of the NBA Finals. You know someone is coming with their A game and if it’s not you, you’ll be going home. What we don’t see is how much preparation goes into getting to the finals. How many nights are spent in the gym alone when everyone else is out having a good time. How much attention to detail is put in to doing the smallest things right. How much energy goes into staying focused even when things aren’t going your way and knowing and believing that you will reach your goals. That kind of accomplishment takes years and incredible fortitude against seemingly insurmountable odds. Yet people, who are clearly not the most talented, achieve an elite level of success all the time. Each of us has that kind of intestinal fortitude within us. We just have to call on it and be willing to make the sacrifices that will get us there.

Why I love acting

I was standing in rehearsal the other day. Small, unkempt room, wooden floor that haven’t been washed in I don’t know when. The temperature is either too hot or too cold, everyday. and yet, there was this moment, just before the scene began when I realized there was no place else in the world I would rather be than in this rehearsal right now. the giving over of your ‘self’ to a greater purpose, to the creation of a living piece of art that will change everyone who sees it, the moment of realizing that there is something more to you than just your body, those are moments that can’t be exchanged for any amount of power or money. I do theater so I can be reminded of why I got into this business in the first place because Hollywood will try to tear that out of you. The business itself with the ‘short lists’ and exclusive agencies and status oriented hierarchy challenges you on a daily basis to remember who you are, what you love, and why you really got into acting in the first place. I desperately need to remind myself of that on a regular basis. Theater is the best place to get that reminder.

Dealing with pressure

Do you ever find yourself in the biggest audition of your life? That’s a lot of pressure. a friend of mine was in that situation recently. She asked me if I had any advice. I did. Stay focused. The mind wants to go to a million different places when you’re sitting in the hot seat but there’s really only two distractions that stress you out;

1. There’s something you want to happen and you’re afraid it won’t.
2. There’s something you don’t want to happen and you’re afraid it will.

Let those thoughts go and focus on one thing. Focus on what you’re here to do. Focus on the moment. Focus on breathing slowly and evenly. Focus on the moment. It brings you back to what’s important. Focus on what you can control instead of what you can’t.Focus on the moment. If you can do that, when you enter the audition room you’ll be calmer, focused, determined and ready to let your light shine in spite of the pressure.

Working on The Troop

I feel really privledged to be working on The Troop for Nickelodeon. It’s crazy but the strangest part about it is that everybody is so nice. I’ve been in television in Hollywood for 20 years and even when there are nice people there, which is often, it’s not what I would call a nice environment to work in. It’s a big corporate colossus where people scurry about in fear for their jobs, or their status or something. It’s always something. But on The Troop (Nickelodeon) it’s exactly the opposite.

In our first week of work, a couple of execs flew in from L.A. to give us an orientation. Now I’ve seen this before. It’s usually a fear filled warning about what will happen if you do this or that and it always leaves you feeling like they are the enemy. This couldn’t have been more different. Maybe it’s because they primarily work with kids and kids need a different kind of guidance. This orientation was about becoming part of the Nickelodeon family, who to call if we had questions, what were the things we should look out for to protect ourselves while in the media spotlight. I was floored. Frankly, after that meeting I felt inspired. I’ve never been on a television show where the network made an effort to make the actors feel like an important part of the team. All I wanted to do after that was get to work. If this is any indication of what Nickelodeon plans to do with The Troop then I can’t wait until we premiere in October.

7 Days to a Great Audition – Day 5

Day 5

Hold your focus

You’re fully prepared. You’ve arrived at the audition. You see some of your friends and they are engaged in a fascinating conversation about the Oscar contenders and who they think will win. There are two seats open in the waiting room, one next to your friends and one on the other side of the room. Which will you choose? The seat next to your friends might help you to chat off some nervous energy but it won’t do a thing to help you hold your focus.

“Any talk that you have with people outside the audition should be used for gathering additional information to help you do a better performance. Think about it this way. Would you spend weeks getting ready for the Indy 500 then let the air out of your tires right before the race?”

– John Marshall Jones presents Mastering the Audition

The hardest thing to do in this business is hold focus on your dream. Remember, nobody can see it but you. Depending on who you are talking to, they might not visualize things the way you do. They might not think any further out than tomorrow or lunch (yikes even!). There are a million reasons why others may not see your dream. They are all unimportant. If you hold your focus on your dream long enough eventually you will run into others who dream and focus as you do. They’ll become your allies. Your team. Those are the people you can build with. Those are the people you can count on.

That same principle applies to your auditions. You’re trying to make allies out of the casting director, director and producers. You’re going to need every bit of your energy when they open the door and call your name to audition. Don’t waste it talking with the same people that you can talk with after the audition is over. At Mastering the Audition we teach techniques that help you to stay in the moment and maintain your focus until after your performance is completed. Our experience teaches us that a focused performer is a great performer.

We live and work in an information society. At John Marshall Jones presents Mastering the Audition we are committed to providing you with superior information to help you to achieve superior results. So hold your focus and make your next audition your best one!

Published in: on August 18, 2008 at 11:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

7 Days to a Great Audition – Day 4

Day 4

Prepare the performance

Great musicians practice for a certain period of time daily to prepare for the next performance. Great athletes practice for a certain period of time daily to prepare to give a great performance. How much time should you put in to know that you are absolutely prepared to handle the pressure of a high intensity audition situation so that you can give your best performance?

“When you dedicate 20 or 30 minutes of study time for every minute of the scene, what you’re really doing is creating a mental, emotional, and physical memory. Once you’ve created a memory from which to work it doesn’t matter how nervous you are, nor does it matter that the reader is giving you little or nothing to react to. “

– John Marshall Jones presents Mastering the Audition

You’ve heard that ‘practice makes perfect’. However the truth is that ‘perfect practice makes a perfect performance’. Repetition creates habit. Repetitive excellence creates excellent habits. Habit is a physical memory. If you make the emotional life of the scene a habit then no matter how nervous you get you will still be able to perform. Performing under pressure is a skill that gets you jobs.

At Mastering the Audition we teach you how to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally to give your best performance under pressure. Creating a personal system of repetitive excellence assures that you will hold yourself accountable to be fully prepared and at your peak when you arrive at the audition.

We live and work in an information society. At Mastering the Audition we are committed to providing you with superior information to help you to achieve superior results. So rehearse for 20 – 30 minutes for every minute of the scene and make your next audition your best one!

This Tuesday, August 5th, at the Nate Holden PAC, 4718 W. Washington Blvd, I’ll be teaching our ‘quick learn’ system which will get you off book in 20 minutes for any audition, guaranteed. This technique is invaluable for cold readings. It works even better when you have time to prepare. To reserve a space call 1-800-270-0360

Published in: on August 1, 2008 at 7:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Day 3 – Keeping the “beat”

Day 3

Give the scene a “beat”ing

Let’s assume that you have the audition material in hand. You’ve worked on your skills and you have developed a team to rehearse with. The Master Auditioner knows that the scene isn’t ready to be rehearsed until you’ve discovered what the scene is about. Generally, scenes are not about what the characters are saying. They are about unspoken emotions that the characters can’t express in words. So, how do you unlock the unspoken emotional information buried within each scene? You begin by breaking the scene down into beats.

“What is a beat? A beat is an interval within a scene in which new information is either introduced or discovered that effects the emotional life of the characters. That information may come from the environment or it may surface as a realization from within the character’s internal emotional life.”

John Marshall Jones presents Mastering the Audition

Every scene has several beats. Each beat signals a change in emotion. At John Marshall Jones presents Mastering the Audition we teach you how to uncover the multiple emotional beats within each scene so your auditions become memorable emotional performances that satisfy the people you’re auditioning for. Our experience tells us that the most memorable actors are also the most employable.

We live and work in an information society. At John Marshall Jones presents Mastering the Audition we are committed to providing you with superior information to help you to achieve superior results. So break that scene down into beats and make your next audition your best one!

Published in: on July 21, 2008 at 6:39 pm  Comments (1)  

Day 2 – Build Alliances

“Create your own team. Every time you have an audition, your teammates must
be committed to help each other. Since listening is such an important part
of your craft, why should the audition be the first time you hear the

- John Marshall Jones presents Mastering the Audition

Why did America create labor unions? Simply put, workers understood that
they could accomplish more as a collective in tough economic times than they
could as individuals. It’s no surprise to us that tough times are coming.
For a lot of us they’re already here.  So what can you do to strengthen your
professional impact in a contracting labor market? You can create a winning

Great bands rehearse consistantly. Great teams practice daily. These are
examples of individuals who used the power of the collective mind to take
themselves to the next level. How many days per week are you working on your
craft and with whom? At John Marshall Jones presents Mastering the Audition
we teach that the building of alliances strengthens each individual in the
group. Like the labor unions of old there is strength in numbers.

At John Marshall Jones presents Mastering the Audition we are committed to
providing you with superior information to help you achieve superior

results. So put your team together and make your next audition the best one.

Published in: on July 16, 2008 at 12:07 am  Leave a Comment