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I don’t have to think back a long way to determine my single worst audition ever. It happened today. I was there for the whole thing so I should know.

The audition notice came via email late in the day yesterday. It’s a simple TV commercial with 6 lines to say and some gesturing at what will be images behind me. I memorized the lines quickly and felt as prepared as I always am.

Except apparently I wasn’t.

I got to the audition location, which was a new one for me. I had been to that building but not that particular suite. Upon walking in, no one greeted me right away so I paused with some confusion. Then a woman said hello and asked me to take a seat. I sat down for about 30 seconds and was asked by the same woman to follow her because casting was ready for me.

In the hallway to the casting room, the woman opened the door and it took up nearly the entirely hallway. I awkwardly squeezed by the open door and around it to get into the room.  That should have been a red flag.

Once in the room, I was greeted by two people, a woman who did all the talking and a man who handled the taping. I handed over two headshots, one bearded like I am now and one clean-shaven. The one who did the talking mentioned a NEW SCRIPT had come in 30 minutes ago and asked me if I had seen it. That was the next little moment that threw my focus out of whack.

I slated and started the audition….but only got two lines in before I was so ridiculously distracted by the office chatter that was clearly audible. Once again, my focus was challenged and I failed to meet the challenge.

I managed to get through one clean take and then did a second with more “Vanna White” gestures. Then I read the copy for the second (updated) version of the script. I held it in my hands the entire time. I felt flustered and tried my best to read carefully while making eye contact with the camera and continuing to gesture with my one free hand.

To be honest, I have no idea how it all looked on camera. I do know my long pauses to get myself focused after the flub were noticeable. But the woman asked for my cell number in case I get booked this weekend for a Monday shoot.

I share this experience for two reasons. First, problems occur for new and experienced actors. I have been auditioning for more than 8 years. You might think this kind of thing wouldn’t happen anymore. But it does. The second reason has to do with focus. Even though I knew the lines and felt comfortable with the business added to those lines, I allowed my focus to get pulled by all the little incidentals along the way. That was made possible by not “living from the end.” I did not go in visualizing the office and the casting space in a way that put me at ease no matter what configuration I discovered or what set of circumstances occurred on the way into the room.  It became a good reminder for me and I am happy to share it with you.