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How to… beat casting nerves

Nicci Topping. Photo: Martyna Przybysz
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1. Have a gin and tonic (not)

After all, one can’t hurt, can it? Hello! Do not on any occasion, under any circumstances, ever have any alcohol, a spliff or any other form of mood-enhancing drugs before an audition. However confident you think a cheeky Baileys might make you feel, the smell alone, never mind your performance, will be enough to ensure that the only place the casting director will be calling will be rehab and not your agent.

2. Be mindful

These days you don’t have to go on a retreat to an ashram or camp in a yurt on a Welsh commune to find yourself. Meditation has become a part of many people’s lives; everybody can benefit from some inner calm and focus, whatever type of person and whatever the age – and nobody more so than actors. There are various flavours of meditation from transcendental meditation (for the truly dedicated with deeper wallets) to more simple mindfulness techniques, but whatever you choose will help promote calm, confidence and a feeling of being centred. There are plenty of great resources online, some of which even cover mindfulness for actors specifically. So inhale deeply, grasshopper, and let Google be your guru.

3. Get there in good time

There is nothing worse for nerves than being late and dashing into an audition hot, sweaty and unable to perform your best. So I’m going to paraphrase Oleta Adams’ musical advice from 1991:“I don’t care how you get here, just get here…” nice and early. And while I would not recommend that you take her advice and travel “by sailboat, climb a tree or swing rope to rope”, I do recommend ensuring that you plan your journey carefully, especially with public transport. Check, then double check your timings and then add at least 30 minutes for good measure. If you’re early, meditate some more.

Nicci Topping, one of the UK’s busiest casting directors for almost 20 years, casts films, commercials and theatre at niccitoppingcasting.com. She also blogs at www.niccitopping.com, where further tips on this and other topics are available. She was talking to John Byrne