Auditioning is no small feat. Even for the most experienced actors, stepping into an audition room in front of a panel scrutinizing you from top to bottom trying to figure out if you’re the right fit for a role can be terrifying.
What’s worse, for actors, auditions are pretty much inescapable. After all, in the performance industry, an audition is simply a job interview. In order to get the job, you have to do the audition.
Los Angeles-based Actress and Acting Coach Jeanie Hackett has noted the enormous pressure that comes during these situations, saying: “There are hundreds of people up for every job. It’s really competitive. So you can’t afford not to be in great shape — physically, emotionally, and psychically. You must exude confidence, or they’re not going to take a chance on you.”
Hackett shared in past interviews that she herself has experienced intense stage fright, both in audition rooms and even in front of live audiences.
Now as an acting coach, she teaches her students how to embrace their nerves and turn them into emotional energy that they can channel into the character they are working to portray.
Another not-so-secret secret Hackett recommends to her students who, although maybe more than prepared for an audition, find themselves overcome with intense anxiety is beta-blockers.
Beta-blockers like Propranolol are a well-known anecdote to stage fright amongst classical musicians, pop stars, standup comedians, and live stage actors. The medication prevents the physical hallmarks of stress like blushing, sweating, and trembling. Without those nervous symptoms getting in the way, performers are able to focus on actually performing.
Hackett first learned about the medication earlier on in her career when she suffered through a series of disastrous auditions.
After taking a break from acting following the death of her husband, Hackett decided it was time to return to her passion and was accepted to try out for the Actor’s Studio in New York. But right in the middle of her audition, she began to experience something she never had before. The muscle just above her right cheekbone began to twitch – so much so she was convinced it was the only thing the judges were noticing about her.
The pulsing became so uncomfortable, it completely distracted her from her character and caused her to forget her lines. She felt completely embarrassed. But she also chalked it up to beginner’s nerves- after all, that had been her first audition in quite some time.
So she tried again. Except the same thing happened again – but this time live on stage. She actually forgot her lines in front of an audience in the middle of a performance.
It was after this experience that a fellow actor recommended she give Propranolol a try. And it turned out to be the one thing that helped her get back on track and even elevate her career into coaching and directing.
Today, with the combination of mental fitness, beta-blockers, and of course intensive training, Hackett has been able to help other actors overcome even the most intense performance anxiety and nail their auditions.