EH
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ROOTS

Ellen Humphreys is an actress, freelance content producer and micro-influencer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Born and raised in Oklahoma, trained in Boston + refined in Los Angeles, she’s chosen the high desert as her home base to build a career as a creatrix, thinker + writer. A devoted stewardess of the Earth and the life around her.

ROOTS is an everyday resource for a mindful + beautiful life, built on the values of integrity, responsibility, practicality, and authenticity.

My Audition Survival Kit

audsurkit

I find it a little delightful that so many of you here know me as a wellness/yoga/outdoorsy person, and not as my primary identifier for the past 10 years of my life: Ellen Humphreys, actor.

I started acting in high school, attended a BFA Acting program in Boston, worked nonstop on my craft for 4 years straight, and then moved to LA to *actually* learn most everything I know about acting.

There are many things an actor needs to be. But above all, your audition skills must be bulletproof. Let’s just say that nobody reading my lil blog is going to be able to book jobs without auditioning, so I thought I’d share one of the things that helps me feel invincible: my audition survival kit.

In the gorgeous mountain town where I live, there’s a great deal of work in the entertainment industry (and hopefully more coming, with the imminent election of the great Michelle Lujan Grisham), but the majority of auditions take place in the larger city of Albuquerque, about an hour’s drive. If you live in Los Angeles, you may find yourself an hour’s drive from most of your auditions, too — so know that this list is somewhat catered to this crowd. And yet!

My New York/walk-to-auditions friends: worry not. Ignore the car-specific list items, choose options that weigh less, and be sure to stay on top of actually drinking the water in your bottle so it doesn’t weigh you down.

 
1) Makeup bag  Makes sense, right? Whether you’ve just finished an hour-long drive or had to walk thru the Northeast’s humidity/rain/snow, I seriously recommend having a little pressed powder to eliminate shine + some setting spray, a lip balm to smooth your lips + a lip color to define your face a little better on camera. This may be a personal preference, but I  never  do an audition without a lip color. Casting tends to use crappy, dated camera technology (even big offices!), so the more I can do to define my features, the better.  I also include makeup wipes if my audition is later in the day — getting my makeup off ASAP helps prevent breakouts.  BONUS TIP: Avoid sunscreen if you’re going to be filmed. SPF makes our skin slightly reflective, and it can give an unpleasant white sheen on camera. You may have heard this tip from your headshot photographer —  never  wear SPF when getting headshots done!

1) Makeup bag

Makes sense, right? Whether you’ve just finished an hour-long drive or had to walk thru the Northeast’s humidity/rain/snow, I seriously recommend having a little pressed powder to eliminate shine + some setting spray, a lip balm to smooth your lips + a lip color to define your face a little better on camera. This may be a personal preference, but I never do an audition without a lip color. Casting tends to use crappy, dated camera technology (even big offices!), so the more I can do to define my features, the better.

I also include makeup wipes if my audition is later in the day — getting my makeup off ASAP helps prevent breakouts.

BONUS TIP: Avoid sunscreen if you’re going to be filmed. SPF makes our skin slightly reflective, and it can give an unpleasant white sheen on camera. You may have heard this tip from your headshot photographer — never wear SPF when getting headshots done!

 
2) Water  I can’t stress this one enough. I know water bottles can be bulky and heavy, but you  do not  want to be stuck with a dry mouth right before you have to speak or scream or cry or worse. I tend to just use a Ball jar with a lid, but find a plastic or rubber bottle for a lighter option.

2) Water

I can’t stress this one enough. I know water bottles can be bulky and heavy, but you do not want to be stuck with a dry mouth right before you have to speak or scream or cry or worse. I tend to just use a Ball jar with a lid, but find a plastic or rubber bottle for a lighter option.

 
3) Sturdy folder + pen  This one might be classified as a ‘pro-tip’ — buy a plain folder specifically for auditions, and  always  keep 3-5 headshots inside. One time I was taking a meeting in ABQ and got a surprise call for an audition in an hour. If I hadn’t kept my audition folder in the car stocked with headshots, I would have had a  very  embarrassing moment in front of a CD I’d never met before. If you didn’t know: it’s  never cool  to show up unprepared — even if the CD acts cool with it at the time, they will probably take it as a sign that you’re too green (and, at least in my experience, Casting Directors have memories like  elephants ).  The folder can also act as a myriad of props without being weird or gimmicky. I’ve used the back of my folder to audition as a journalist, doctor, president’s aide and for other auditions that required me to be taking notes or relaying important information. And I’ll let you in on a secret — I’ve taped my sides to the back of the folder when I wasn’t 100% comfortable with the text. ;)  Oh, and always have a couple of pens with you. Sometimes the sign-in pen gets stolen and, trust me, it’s way easier + more graceful to just pull one out of your bag and donate it to the cause. A pen is also a great, appropriate prop to use, especially with your folder.

3) Sturdy folder + pen

This one might be classified as a ‘pro-tip’ — buy a plain folder specifically for auditions, and always keep 3-5 headshots inside. One time I was taking a meeting in ABQ and got a surprise call for an audition in an hour. If I hadn’t kept my audition folder in the car stocked with headshots, I would have had a very embarrassing moment in front of a CD I’d never met before. If you didn’t know: it’s never cool to show up unprepared — even if the CD acts cool with it at the time, they will probably take it as a sign that you’re too green (and, at least in my experience, Casting Directors have memories like elephants).

The folder can also act as a myriad of props without being weird or gimmicky. I’ve used the back of my folder to audition as a journalist, doctor, president’s aide and for other auditions that required me to be taking notes or relaying important information. And I’ll let you in on a secret — I’ve taped my sides to the back of the folder when I wasn’t 100% comfortable with the text. ;)

Oh, and always have a couple of pens with you. Sometimes the sign-in pen gets stolen and, trust me, it’s way easier + more graceful to just pull one out of your bag and donate it to the cause. A pen is also a great, appropriate prop to use, especially with your folder.

 
4) Cell phone  Ok, I’m aware that you will have your phone on you for all auditions ever, whether or not you read my stupid blog. But bear with me: my cell phone has been the greatest prop I’ve ever owned. I’ve used it as a control panel for a pilot role, a tablet for a scientist role, and even a game control for some nerd playing a video game! (No shame btw - I’m also a nerd who plays video games.) And I’ve also used it as a phone prop. Because when you use the ol’ finger-phone in an audition, you look like a chump, so just use your real phone that you literally always have on your person anyways.  VERY IMPORTANT:  ALWAYS  turn it off before going in to the audition!!! Completely off! A teacher of mine once told a great story about losing out on a series regular role in the final callback because he turned his phone to silent, not off, and had a quacking duck ringtone playing in his headphones for the duration of the scene. He did the math, and the role would have ultimately payed over $1 million. I don’t want that to happen to you! Or me! So turn off your phone before you go in there and kill it, pls.

4) Cell phone

Ok, I’m aware that you will have your phone on you for all auditions ever, whether or not you read my stupid blog. But bear with me: my cell phone has been the greatest prop I’ve ever owned. I’ve used it as a control panel for a pilot role, a tablet for a scientist role, and even a game control for some nerd playing a video game! (No shame btw - I’m also a nerd who plays video games.) And I’ve also used it as a phone prop. Because when you use the ol’ finger-phone in an audition, you look like a chump, so just use your real phone that you literally always have on your person anyways.

VERY IMPORTANT: ALWAYS turn it off before going in to the audition!!! Completely off! A teacher of mine once told a great story about losing out on a series regular role in the final callback because he turned his phone to silent, not off, and had a quacking duck ringtone playing in his headphones for the duration of the scene. He did the math, and the role would have ultimately payed over $1 million. I don’t want that to happen to you! Or me! So turn off your phone before you go in there and kill it, pls.

 
5) Snack  Ok, I’ll admit that this one is pretty idiosyncratic. I drive an hour to, and an hour from each audition. It’s not uncommon for me to leave the house without having eaten, lately (I’m aware that I suck), so a nutritious snack on deck is  essential . Too often, I leave this one out of my own audition bag, and I regret it every time. Because, without fail, every time I’m getting onto I-25 to drive back to Santa Fe, I have the urge to stop at a Dion’s Pizza and go off on a slice of Hawaiian and some Green Chile Ranch (don’t @ me)— and I personally need less of that right now, not more.

5) Snack

Ok, I’ll admit that this one is pretty idiosyncratic. I drive an hour to, and an hour from each audition. It’s not uncommon for me to leave the house without having eaten, lately (I’m aware that I suck), so a nutritious snack on deck is essential. Too often, I leave this one out of my own audition bag, and I regret it every time. Because, without fail, every time I’m getting onto I-25 to drive back to Santa Fe, I have the urge to stop at a Dion’s Pizza and go off on a slice of Hawaiian and some Green Chile Ranch (don’t @ me)— and I personally need less of that right now, not more.

 
6) Car Comfies   Comfies : The formal name I’ve given to the workout clothes I throw in my car to preserve the integrity of certain audition outfits. I don’t know about you, but I have two sections of my closet: normal clothes I get to wear all the time, and Special Audition Clothes (a blazer, a few nice dresses, an expensive pair of heels, etc.), which are not to be touched except for work purposes, or special events. Some of these are more high-end than my normal clothes and many require dry cleaning — so I’d rather not sweat in them for two extra hours.  Back in LA, I had a habit of strategizing my gas refills around auditions. After the audition, I’d stop, fill up my car’s tank, and run into the restroom to change into yoga pants and a t-shirt. There’s  nothing better  than getting out of uncomfortable clothes before a long drive, and my wallet has thanked me — or it would have, if wallets could.

6) Car Comfies

Comfies: The formal name I’ve given to the workout clothes I throw in my car to preserve the integrity of certain audition outfits. I don’t know about you, but I have two sections of my closet: normal clothes I get to wear all the time, and Special Audition Clothes (a blazer, a few nice dresses, an expensive pair of heels, etc.), which are not to be touched except for work purposes, or special events. Some of these are more high-end than my normal clothes and many require dry cleaning — so I’d rather not sweat in them for two extra hours.

Back in LA, I had a habit of strategizing my gas refills around auditions. After the audition, I’d stop, fill up my car’s tank, and run into the restroom to change into yoga pants and a t-shirt. There’s nothing better than getting out of uncomfortable clothes before a long drive, and my wallet has thanked me — or it would have, if wallets could.

What audition necessities do you always bring along? Actor friends, share what I may have missed below!