My first professional audition was when I was with a different agent, and it was for a mobile phone advert. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever done: a real car crash. The call came through from my agent and the audition was that day, in a couple of hours time. It was like: “Can you get to Soho in three hours’ time, and have a look at this song?”
It was only going to be shown in Holland, and they were looking to emulate Trey Songz, who is an R&B singer. At the time, Trey Songz wore lots of hats, so I come in wearing a hat and trying to look as R&B as possible, and the first thing the casting director said was: “Take your hat off. The director will want to know what’s under the hat.”
Trey Songz is very sexual in his lyrics and performance, so they wanted me to really sex up the camera, pretending it was a girl. The casting director told me to “pretend you are seducing her”, indicating her assistant. So I started to get really physical, miming the song they gave me three hours before I went in, and the casting director stopped me and asked why I wasn’t looking into the camera. I told her I thought she wanted me to do it to the assistant and she said: “No, do it down the camera.”
So I got it wrong the first time, in this really awkward and very physical way with someone that I had no idea who they were, and now they wanted me to do it to someone who wasn’t even real: to the camera. And the camera operator is giggling to himself and I’m dying inside.
I was made to feel very small in a very short period of time. Auditions are nerve-racking as it is, especially your first one. And for all those things to go wrong all at the same time was really difficult for me.
That audition taught me that I always want to be as prepared as possible, and I learned that you very rarely hit the ground running: that I wasn’t going to get every audition. Some auditions are simply to meet the people in the room. I’m now a lot more comfortable going into the room.
CV: Sope Dirisu
Training: Royal Shakespeare Company Open Stages programme and National Youth Theatre
TV includes: Undercover, Humans, The Casual Vacancy, The Mill, Utopia
Theatre includes: The Whipping Man (Drum, Plymouth Theatre Royal)
Film includes: Sand Castle, Criminal
Agent: Markham, Froggatt and Irwin
Sope Dirisu was talking to Thomas Hescott