Before an actor or actress can book a job in a film, on television, or in a commercial, they must first audition for it. An actor gets an audition from being submitted from their talent agent or manager. They usually send your headshot and resume to the casting director based on the breakdown description that they think matches your look and talent ability. If the casting director thinks your headshot and experience fit the role, they will call your agent or manager and set up an audition. In order to be a successful actor, you must get a talent agent and a manager.
As an actor, auditioning is primarily your job. You will, hopefully, go on many auditions every week. It is imperative, as an actor, to become a master auditioner. Having all the talent in the world cannot save you if you don't make a good impression at the audition. Keep in mind that booking a job is not always the goal. If you are not right for a particular part, but are able to leave a lasting, positive, impression, the casting director will remember you and will usually think of you when another role better matching your style comes along. The biggest actors in Hollywood will not book every audition, but they know the importance of always being professional, prepared, and most importantly how to promote their product; themselves.
For an audition, an actor is usually required to memorize lines from a portion of the script that they are auditioning for. These lines are called sides. Even though you will be able to read from the sides while you are auditioning, you must still have them memorized. On your first audition, you will be reading with a casting director who usually remains seated and reads the other characters lines in an absolutely monetary tone with a dead pan face. This can be daunting, as you will still be expected to evoke the necessary emotions and tone suitable to the script. Constant work in an acting class is extremely important to perfect your ability to do well in an audition.
You may also be required to perform a monologue. A monologue is an uninterrupted speech directed towards another character. As an actor, you must have a monologue on hand for every situation. It's like your business card. Even if you are not required to have one prepared, you never know when you will be asked to recite one. Depending on the role you're auditioning for, it is best to have at least one comedic monologue and one dramatic monologue, well-rehearsed, at all times. In order to best choose the monologue that is right for your range, get in an acting class!
For theater auditions, actors will typically recite a monologue and a song, if there is singing involved in the production. As a theater actor, even if you don't have a strong voice, it would be helpful to work with a speech coach and a singing instructor. On the stage, your voice is primarily your tool. There are no close ups in theater, but your voice must be able to carry the emotion of the scene to the person sitting in the very back row of the audience.
Many factors are involved for an audition. An actor's talent, for one, is, obviously, extremely important. Equally, if not more, important is an actor's "type." This is a combination of their look, personality, and general impression they leave with the casting director. What it all comes down to in the end, though, is what is right for the role, and the Director's vision. Directors don't want to hire actors, they want to hire people. It's your job to walk into the room as the person they envision for the role. Work with an acting coach to become the character that they want to see. Remember that for every role, they audition hundreds of people. More than anything, they'd love for you to make their job easy and be the perfect person for the part.
In order to even get an audition, an actor needs an agent. Check out the Talent Agents section for more information on how to get the right agent for you, so you can start auditioning for roles in TV, film, and commercials. The entertainment industry is a business. Be professional, realistic, and more than anything else, practice your art in a good acting class. Now is the time to start the Acting Career you've always wanted!