When & Where Does Your Audition Begin?

Doug Traer teaches Teens Commercial Class & Wednesday Workout at KIRA.

Doug Traer teaches Teens Commercial Class & Wednesday Workout at KIRA.

As an actor, session director and teacher, I've seen a lot of ways that actors can mess up their auditions. I point those things out to actors as often as I can.

Look, when you go it to audition for a commercial, you face some pretty daunting odds already. So it just doesn't make sense for you to add to those odds.

For instance, a couple of years ago, I reported a story about an actor who tweeted what a drag it was to have to wait to audition for a certain product. Problem was the client was in the room and saw the tweet before the actor came in. So that actor not only shot himself in the foot for that product, ad agency and casting director, his agent dropped him when we told him about it.
A somewhat similar thing happened recently. At callbacks for a fast food spot, for families that include a 15 year old girl, the director passed through the waiting room on his way to the rest room. As he went through, he heard one of the girls bragging about her Instagram account--things that were on it, how many followers and likes, etc. So when he got back to his computer, he looked up her account.
He found a number of sexy photos in very skimpy swimwear--hardly the image you would want for a teen girl in a wholesome family. Once he shared the photos with the clients, the girl was out of the running.
So she shot herself in both feet: the right when she posted the photos to her Instagram account, and the left when she loudly talked about them with the other girls.

In her defense, she was over 18 but playing 15 and there was no way for her to know that he was the director or would overhear her conversation. That being said, we all need to be aware of our exposure on social media.

Actors--think about what you post on social media. Look at it objectively and ask yourself if it can come back and cause you grief in the future.
Also, remember that your audition begins when you get out of your car at the casting facility and ends when you get back in. The time in between is not your own and you should always assume someone is watching or listening.  So be careful about what you say and do in waiting rooms.


Keep It Real Acting Studios offers many opportunities for child actors to learn about making smart choices. Sign your kids up for our Youth Improv Intensive, Teens Commercial Class, Kids Commercial Class or Next Step Commercial Class today!



How To Handle Redirection In A Callback

Judy Pink Headshot.JPG

Woo Hoo!  You have a callback!  

You are super excited. You are dressed ready to go, show up at the right location, on time. All good so far.

You get in the room and the spot has changed!  The set up is totally different and now you have no dialogue.

Just react. 

Most actors have a reaction, albeit brief, but a look of shock and concern comes over their face. Certainly would have been nice to know that 10 minutes ago in the lobby.

My rule of thumb is prepare for the callback to be different and if it is the same as the initial call  FANTASTIC!  But more times than I would like to count SOMETHING is different.

It just means you cannot lock into one way to do the spot and very important to know all lines and everything that is going on before you come in.

Directors are often cryptic in their direction as well.

A good practice for actors is to repeat back the note or direction you heard in a playable action.

For example:  Director say, "Lets do one where you throw it away!"

You can repeat.. "Great so just more conversational?"

Director responds with, "Yes Yes.. lets try that."

Shorthand for director/ session director notes:

Throw it away-  This means don't put too much emphasis on anything, and make the dialogue less important to communicate. You know when you are in the middle of texting and talking to someone. One thing gets most of your attention, probably the text, so your dialogue is understated and isn't emphatic.

or when you are shopping for the perfect apple at the store but telling a story to a friend. The story may become secondary in importance to finding an non-bruised apple.


Play around with it- This is an indication that they are not sure which way to go with the spot and is a  Great opportunity for you to improv and bring your personality to the spot. You can add some brief little ad lib to spice it up. Or take a completely different approach to the copy. This is helpful if you have practiced it several different ways. In a callback I am much more on tactical alert and not as relaxed as at my house. So having a few choices in my hip pocket will come in handy when asked to play around with it!


Make it bigger- Not said as often anymore. But it could be in reference to you going for IT 100%. Really commit to the choice. They are giving you permission so if you only do it slightly bigger it will be a let down for them.  Just GO FOR IT and then they can modulate the next take.


PACE IT UP- This is simple, Give it more urgency. It is simple to do if you internally feel like you have to run out and feed your meter, or the dog is outside waiting for you, or your car is running, or class is about to start etc.  IF you give yourself that set of circumstances it will pick up the pace perfectly without rushing through for the sake of rushing.


Anything can happen in a callback, so be ready for anything and everything! Know that having a director or session runner give you a note is not necessarily a criticism of your first choice, but often an excuse to try something different and see how well you take direction. Inevitably you will be asked to do something different, and it is the actors who are able to take direction well while also delivering truthful performances who will book the job!


Judy Kain is an actress and the owner of Keep It Real Acting Studios. She teaches The Business Of Acting, Wednesday Workouts, Advanced Callback and A-Z Commercial Class. Judy is the author of I Booked It.



The Fallbacks Of Callbacks

The Fallbacks of Callbacks


I’ve come to believe that everything worth achieving is beyond one’s capacity—or seems so at first. The thing is to persist, not back off, fight your fight, pay your dues, and carry on. Effort is all; continue and you may get there despite everything!            

Elia Kazan, director, producer, actor, screenwriter, novelist, acting teacher


 I would love to talk about the much coveted, Callback. 


  In Los Angeles, callbacks are often referred to as allbacks because it seems as if the director hasn’t narrowed down the selection at all—perhaps he even called in some new actors to see if anyone in LA hadn’t already been considered for this particular job.

It can be frustrating, but my sage advice is that you rise above it. Never show even the smallest hint of your frustration. Instead, be grateful. Have gratitude that you were selected to return; now you have a chance for some face time with the director and client. The callback is your opportunity to turn their heads and get picked for the job.

Another term for the callback is the fallback, for it is full of unexpected elements and factors completely beyond your control. The script may have changed; the concept may be completely different from your first audition. They may even have you read for another role you didn’t even know about.

 Don’t panic!

My callback credo is to always show up with the expectation that things will be different. You can jump up and down for the rare times that everything is unchanged from your first call.

Callback preparation is more internal than anything else

Get yourself in that "on top of the world space" The "I got this space"   Be like a tree in the wind that is rooted and strong but bendable and flexible to withstand anything thrown at you.

Prepare for a wait. 

Prepare for people you know or have seen on TV in the waiting room

Prepare for little to no guidance.

Prepare for ANYTHING

In other words have a way to go, know what you have in mind and be willing to drop it on a dime for another way. The best advice I can give you is have several ways to go. Don't be afraid to play around with choices, because they will throw things at you that you didn't expect.

Have a CAN DO attitude.. no excuses. Be willing to go for it 100%

My LAST BIT OF ADVICE IS repeat back what the director says to you.. If he says " try it again and this time as if you have had this happen to you a million times.. You repeat back.  sure you mean do it as if I had this happen over and over again....

Yes! he says.. Now you are collaborating and you have listened to the director and given yourself a second to process the note.

See how this works for you and let me know.. when you BOOK IT!


The Fallbacks Of Callbacks was an excerpt from I BOOKED IT , The Commercial Actors Handbook. The author, Judy Kain, opened Keep It Real Acting Studios in 2012.  She currently teaches The Business Of Acting, Advanced Callback, A-Z Commercial Class and Wednesday Workouts. 



How To Create Networking Opportunities

For the actor... everything is an OPPORTUNITY.

The business has changed over the years tremendously and there is much less personal interaction.

Judy Kain is an actress, teacher and studio owner in Los Angeles, CA.

Judy Kain is an actress, teacher and studio owner in Los Angeles, CA.

More and more auditions are on tape so we don't necessarily meet as many people as we once did.  That is unfortunate, but a reality we have to accept. However, there are ways for actors to get seen, make connections and put your best foot forward at every turn.


I was at an IMPROVISATION SHOW the other night and the actors were asked to bring head shots to give to industry attending. Only a handful of actors brought head shots and I left scratching my head. The head shot for the actor is your calling card. It is a business card for the artist. It shows your experience yes.. and of course training, but most importantly HOW TO REACH YOU!!!!


Even though you made not be in need of an agent or a manager, you may think... I don't need one right now, Anyone in the business knows other people. The attending guest may have a brother or a mate that is producing a film and needs someone just like you... but there is no way to reach you.


I have literally been in an office and saw a photo of someone on the desk ... and I ( an actress) made a comment on how talented the actress was... and the next week that office called her in for an audition!  Had she not had her photo there.. that OPPORTUNITY would not have happened.


I know that energy is working in your favor when you put your self out there with a headshot, postcard, business card.  You are putting your brand out into the world and something will happen. Certainly more than if your photo was at home sitting in a drawer. 


Keep your resume updated. If you are taking a class now put it on your resume. Keep your credits current and make sure they sound as good as they can. You can always make a mediocre credit sound more impressive by the way you phrase it.  Put names of instructors that are well known or the name of studio instead of teacher if that is more recognizable.


Classes are perfect places to network. Every actor, teacher and studio is FULL of OPPORTUNITIES. Be sure everyone has your info, headshot, or at least your business card ( that has a photo on it) 


For more info on networking opportunities check out the BUSINESS OF ACTING CLASS with Judy Kain.



Why Do Kids Need Improv?

There are so many reasons for humans to take Improv classes that it's almost impossible to narrow them down! 

Lisa Fredrickson is an actress and improviser in Los Angeles.

Lisa Fredrickson is an actress and improviser in Los Angeles.

I've been teaching Improvisation for nearly 30 years and my students have ranged in age from 6 to 94.  They are not only Actors, but Dentists and Sheriffs and Mayors and Teachers. Some people come to class because they want to 'come out of their shell', some want to do comedy as a full time job, some want to get in touch with their 'inner child', some want to stay spry in their retirement years, some just want to laugh on a regular basis. The magical thing about this art form is that ALL of these things can be accomplished at the same time and I get to see it nearly every day!

But, today we are talking about kids. Why Improv? Don't they already know how to play?  They have spry minds and their 'inner children' are actually 'outer children'- so what gives? 

Here's the deal: I have found that the coolest thing for kids is to be reminded that they are endlessly creative, that their ideas matter and that having a positive attitude will lead to a life of great adventure! 

The transition from childhood into adulthood is full of land mines that every parenting blog will tell you about in detail.  A kid who has discovered Improv will be able to navigate many of these areas with a greater confidence in themselves, a courage to make his or her own choices and a stronger ability to engage in social interractions.

A child who is already an Actor can really soar with a little Improv training. Improv experience can help you feel more confident in your choices at an audition, maintain your equilibrium when some little thing goes wrong and just loosen up the whole process of auditioning so the stress level is reduced by a ton. I often hear students share audition stories where Improv skills really saved them. Directors want to see different choices in a short moment - they don't always have time for you to mull over the proper response to a direction. An improvisor can offer up the same line of dialogue in 10 different ways without a worry. That's why casting directors want Improvisors at auditions - they deliver!

A good improvisation class will give a kid a safe place to make big choices, a safe place to fail and practice letting go of self judgement,  and a safe place to find out what his or her secret talents are.  When that kid goes into an audition, he's going into familiar territory and knows what will probably work. He knows how to bring fun into a room - people naturally want to work with him.

Just last week I received this text from the mom of a 10 year old girl:

KIRA Kids having fun playing the improv game Dr. Know It All.

KIRA Kids having fun playing the improv game Dr. Know It All.

"Thanks for bringing forth an aspect of our daughter we didn't know was there. What a wonderful surprise to see her own it onstage fully."

We make up scenes, make up songs, make up jokes, make friends, make each other laugh and make a lasting positive change in a person's life. Just say "Yes" to an Improv class for your little actor, it's an investment into their adulthood!


About the Author: Lisa Fredrickson has been teaching and performing Improv for over 25 years. She currently teaches the Youth Improv Intensive at Keep It Real Acting Studios. She is a positively charged, working commercial actress who applies improv to most things she does in life! 



How To Get Your Child Into The Business

So you want to get your child into the business? Congratulations! You have a fun and tedious road ahead of you. I was the parent of a child actor. My son, Frankie, came into an audition with me because he didn’t want to wait in the lobby while I went in for the audition for me. So I held him in my arms (he was 4 years old.)  And low and behold … He booked the job.. NOT ME!


The rest was history. My agent signed him, sent him out, and he booked 15-16 commercials over the course of the next few years. To this day, Frankie is still an actor.


I am going to share with you my thoughts on making the business work for you and your child, and how I was able to raise a happy, healthy and well adjusted kid who still loves to act.


You play many roles in your child’s career. You are the CEO of their career, renewing work permits, handling money, scheduling auditions and appointments. You are also the limo driver, the cook, the guardian... You are everything… .But one thing you are not—YOU ARE NOT THE ACTING COACH.


The best advice I can give you is DO NOT EVER, EVER TELL THEM HOW TO ACT.


Trust me, it will hurt you not help them, but directors and casting want kids to sound and act like kids. They want them to be themselves in a truly natural way.  And the thing about kids is that they mimic what they hear... And then they can’t change it.


Be as supportive as you can be to your child and their representation. Don’t be the annoying stage mother. Being overbearing can and will cost your child jobs and agents, as they will not want you around. Let them do their job and you do yours. HELP THEM and they will help you.


And NEVER EVER talk about jobs, money, or contracts around your child.

Remember that they think this is fun. They are children, and should not feel pressure to work. They will get to adulthood soon enough and experience that pressure. Right now, they are growing and playing and enjoying life. You handle the tough stuff. Don’t get them involved in it.


NEVER talk about whether they are booking or not. They want to make you happy, and if they hear even a little bit that you are disappointed because they are not booking.. that puts undo pressure on them.


I never mentioned the word Job, Money, Career around my son till he was 16. I would say something like.. “hey, we get to go see that nice lady today and talk about McDonald’s” Hop in the car. Let’s go. In that way, auditions and shoots  were always fun and enjoyable. If I needed to encourage Frankie, I would say, “and after we can go get a hamburger or you can play some video games”.


So there you have it. Raising a child actor is no easy feat, but I hope you are able to keep acting a fun and safe activity for them. After all, child actors are, first and foremost, children.


Good luck, and may the journey be as rewarding as it was for me and my son!


Judy Kain is an actress known for The Odd Couple and Hand Of God. She opened Keep It Real Acting Studios in 2012. Judy currently teaches The Business Of Acting, Advanced Callback and A-Z Commercial Class.

Learn more about KIRA's Youth Program HERE.





Asymmetrical Posture, Blocking and Becoming Legend

When Randall Sims is not working in the business, he volunteers with wolves. Body language around wolves is everything.

When Randall Sims is not working in the business, he volunteers with wolves. Body language around wolves is everything.

People who have studied under my system know how much I emphasize PICTURES over DIALOGUE when trying to communicate an interesting story or performance. Outside of cinephile nerds like me, who watch movies literally hundreds of times to study and understand the genius and mastery of filmmaking, most people very rarely recall dialogue from a movie or TV show they loved. It’s almost ALWAYS IMAGES and PICTURES. “Titanic”, “Rocky”, “Billy Eliot”, “Moonlight” all created iconic and legendary images that have transcended time, culture and language.  But how? How did those images stick with us more than images from other films? Sometimes it’s just a breathtaking shot like the Manhattan skyline in black and white 70 MM in Woody Allen’s classic, “Manhattan”. But most films and actors don’t have the world’s most famous city as their backdrop. So how did the images in say “Billy Eliot” stand out? Well, images, pictures and moments that stand out tend to be of the asymmetrical nature. By that I mean the objects in the shot are not symmetrically organized. They’re just a little askew. A little organized chaos if you will. As a species, according to many biologists and anthropologists, what made life on this planet successful in the evolutionary process was its addiction to symmetry. That’s why most mammals have two eyes located somewhat symmetrically on most faces, for instance. Symmetry allowed us to survive. Without it the variations in developing species would’ve made individual specie survival practically impossible. In essence, homogeny helps a species survive and thrive. Now, humans and certain other mammals do have specific and unique variations. Redheads for instance possess a unique human trait that visually set them apart from other humans. But most variation is superficial and easily manipulated. So why would asymmetrically organized PICTURES and IMAGES become more memorable and iconic? Again, those same scientists speculate that while symmetry strengthens a species survivability, asymmetry is visually and cerebrally engaging and fascinating. In essence we’re drawn to things that look out of place or slightly off. From an anthropological and thus human reaction standpoint people who present themselves with asymmetrical posture seem more confident, more interesting, mavericks. We all wish we could grow our hair long and write poetry as Europe burns but most of us don’t want that kind of drama in our real lives. So we watch people “Create” a fake “Real” world for us to enjoy and to grab our attention and to let us know “We’re the Hero and we got this…” To do that they use loads of asymmetrical posture and they thus create compelling IMAGES and PICTURES for us to recall and relive as we share our common enjoyment of an IMPORTANT FILM or TV SHOW with our communities. So for you, the actor, the challenge is to always be creating interesting and memorable PICTURES and BLOCKING (Called Korography in my system) to keep your audience engaged and wanting more. Commercial auditions fall under this axiom as well. Trust me in my over 500 callbacks and 100,000 directed auditions the actors who stood out and ultimately got the gig used profuse amounts of asymmetrical posture to create interesting PICTURES and PERFORMANCES to grab the client by the heart or with humor to TAKE the gig that was RIGHTFULLY THEIRS. That’s the attitude they all conveyed with hat posture. Try it out in your next audition. I promise you will make an impression. 

Randall "The Wolf" Sims is an Actor & Casting Session Runner. He regularly teaches Wednesday Workouts at Keep It Real Acting Studios, as well as his new class The Fundamentals Of Visual Storytelling. Email for more details. When he is not working, Randall enjoys his time volunteering with wolves.



How Child Actors Can Set Themselves Apart


Recently I worked on the casting of a commercial for a big building supply company. We’ve worked with this director a number of times and he invited us to the set.
Now if you’ve never been to the set of a commercial or film shoot, it is chaos. Grips, gaffers, set decorators, prop people, special effects artists, make-up and hair people, producers, clients, ADs and PAs—all quickly moving about doing their jobs. It can be confusing and intimidating for the uninitiated.

Amid all this madness, stood little Abby.

Doug having fun with his students in Teens Commercial Class

Doug having fun with his students in Teens Commercial Class

For this spot, we had put together a family, including 9-year old Abby. She is the daughter of an actor friend and has had an impressive career for a girl her age: a dozen or so commercials, as well as a TV series and a film or two. She has been influenced by her father, of course, and took some kids’ acting classes. But mostly, she is very natural.

I watched young Abby as she stood on the set. Crew members moved all around but her whole focus was on the director, who stood a few feet away giving her instructions. Makeup people scurried around her as he finished his direction, making last touches. Then, the first AD called for quiet, the cameras rolled and the director called action. Calmly and deliberately she did what the director had asked of her.  After they cut, she was shown back to her holding area where she resumed working with the set teacher.

You see, Abby is just the kind of child that directors and agencies want to work with: focused, calm, talented and professional. And it only makes sense. When you’re spending anywhere from 10 to 25 thousand dollars an hour on a shoot, you can’t afford the extra time it takes to deal with people who are unprepared or intimidated.

Now, there are thousands upon thousands of cute kids out there. And a lot of them want to be actors. But from casting commercials, TV and film for over 25 years, I can tell you for sure that most of the kids I see auditioning DO NOT know what they are doing. It’s also why kids like Abby book so much work.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: the key to working in commercials is not how well you act; it’s how well you audition.

That is why I teach Kids Classes at Keep It Real Acting Studios. I want my young student actors to be fearless and unintimidated by the audition process. I want them to relax and let their creativity and talent flow. And there is really only one way to do that: show them what to expect and how to handle it. Then have them practice it again and again, until it becomes second nature.
Eventually the kids’ personalities start coming through in their auditions and at that point, I know they are ready.

Doug Traer is an accomplished actor and casting session runner. He currently teaches Teens Commercial Class at KIRA. In 2015, his class won Favorite Youth Acting Class in the Backstage Readers' Choice Awards.


Theatrical Auditions vs. Commercial Auditions


Theatrical Auditions vs. Commercial Auditions

Is there a difference as far as preparing for each type of audition? Apparently there are actors out there that feel there is little to no preparation necessary for Commercial Auditions. I often see actors talking, on their phone, and the best to date cleaning out their purse in the lobby while waiting to audition for a commercial.

However at a Theatrical Auditions, actors rarely make eye contact, let alone speak with one another. Presumably, they are working on their script, making substitutions, preparing mentally and physically for the upcoming audition.

 I have been auditioning for 38 years in Los Angeles for Television, Film and commercials and I do the same prep for all three. It is my firm belief that acting is acting and preparation is a part of my tool kit.  Who , what , where and why are the questions I always ask… and then dig further for more info to personalize as much as I can with the time allotted.
·     Who am I talking to? Who is this person to me? How do I feel about them right now? What is our history?
·     What is my motive? What is my Objective?  What do I want from this person? What is my point of view? What am I feeling right now about the situation?
·     Where am I? Have I been here before? What do I see around me? Identify something that I can focus on and create the 4th wall.
·     Why am I saying what I am saying? Why is it important?  Why am I not saying anything? Why am I present in this situation?

When I ask myself these questions and make decisions I feel equipped to fully commit to the text and the scene as a whole. If asked to do it another way which is almost always the case, I am ready with options, choices, because I have thought about it, and rehearsed it several different ways. I am able to take the direction and employ it with ease.
I would much rather leave an audition knowing I gave it my all and left them with a sense of who I am, than kick myself in the car all the way up the 405, wishing I had prepared.

From my interviews with Casting, their number one complaint about actors is that they are not prepared. They often say, the actor who gets picked or called back is always the one who comes in with a solid choice. It may not always be the choice they had in mind, but they made a choice, backed up with thought and conviction. These are the actors who consistently work because they take the craft seriously.

If you are struggling with how to prepare, how to make these choices at your auditions, check out Mastering the Theatrical audition at KEEP IT REAL ACTING STUDIOS.

Judy Kain is owner of Keep It Real Acting. The next session of her class Advanced Callback is now enrolling.