At its most basic, an audition consists of getting an appointment with a casting agent looking to fill a role. Unlike auditioning for a play, where you have to come in with a prepared monologue of your own choosing (and maybe a song!), when you audition for film and TV you prepare a scene or scenes from the material you received when you got the audition appointment. These scenes are called “sides.”

It is strongly preferred that your child come in with the sides memorized if possible, as it will help them be more natural—not sound like they are reading—and be able to make eye contact with their scene partner (usually the casting director’s assistant). Sometimes, with the short notice given for an audition and the possibly excessive length of the material, memorizing the sides entirely is impossible.

If that’s the case, just help your child be as familiar as they can be before going in, so they are as comfortable as possible with the material. The sides will be attached to an email confirming your child’s appointment. You’ll want to print them out, and possibly highlight your child’s lines.

Even if your child knows their lines cold, they should still enter the room with a copy of the sides. This is because the casting director may ask them to change something about their read (“this time, try it as if you are feeling angry” or, “OK, pick it up from the middle of page 2 but more urgent this time” etc) and that can sometimes throw an actor off if they don’t have their material available.

But before your kid gets in that room you have to get to the casting office! Los Angeles is a big place and its traffic is legendary for a reason. Auditioning is stressful enough without wondering if you will be able to find the place, or be late. For that reason, always build a large cushion into your drive time.

It’s a cliché because it is true: fifteen minutes early is on time; on time is late. Late is just unacceptable. There are too many other people out there who can fill a given job for casting agents to take a risk on an actor who can’t show up on time. If you are ever late on set, you can cause hundreds of people to wait, and many thousands of dollars. Not OK! I used both Google maps to get a visual and time estimate before I set out to get my daughter Dove Cameron to an audition, and a GPS in my car to get us there reliably. The best GPS devices allow you to change your route if severe traffic is detected. Which can be a godsend in Los Angeles.

This may sound excessive, but another thing LA is known for is its confusing, restrictive parking signage. Most casting offices have only street parking, and it is really easy to get towed if you don’t pay close attention to ALL of the signs. Be armed with lots of quarters (not all meters take credit cards yet) and allow extra time for finding a safe place to leave your car.

NEXT: Walking into the Audition, and Waiting Room Etiquette

My book, The Hollywood Parents Guide, available on Amazon contains everything I wish I’d known when Dove and I started this journey, and will save you untold amounts of time, money, and stress. Full of information you MUST know, it also features stories from parents of other kids who’ve made it!

Or book an hour consulting with me to come up with an individualized plan that takes your own unique needs into account. For about the cost of an hour with a professional acting coach, you can get your questions answered and a road map to help you move forward toward your dream.

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