Few actors enjoy auditioning. Why would they? The process is time-consuming, tedious, and usually ends in failure.

Of course, the audition is a necessary evil for any aspiring actor. If you’ve yet to score your breakout, here’s what you can do to make the most of your time on the audition circuit.

1. Start Small

Everyone starts somewhere. If that means racking up non-speaking credits in network serials, so be it. Approach each audition as an opportunity: even if you don’t land the role, and most times you won’t, you’ll get your name in front of a casting director who will presumably have more opportunities for you in the future.

2. Play the Numbers Game

If you’re not prepared to spend a significant share of your time on the audition circuit, you may not be in the right line of work. High-profile roles attract hundreds of prospects to the initial audition; so do bit parts in high-profile productions. Again, you’re not going to land most of the roles for which you audition, nor should you expect a callback every time. All you can do is prepare as thoroughly as you can and do your best to stick the landing.

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3. Look for Projects With Pedigreed Producers

If auditioning is a numbers game, turn the odds in your favor by seeking out low-key projects with pedigreed producers. The independent film world is a great place to start. Not only does the indie niche have more geographical diversity (a boon for actors working in places like Chicago and Dallas), it also tends to be more supportive and nurturing. And it does attract its fair share of pedigreed filmmaking talent, like longtime movie producer David Mimran.

4. Don’t Go It Alone

Don’t yet have an agent? Get one, soon.

Yes, representation does reduce your net earnings. But the benefits far outweigh the costs, particularly for budding actors who aren’t yet raking in cash. The right agent with the right connections can make all the difference. Just remember to do your due diligence; many agents can’t or won’t give you the attention you deserve.

5. Ask Why You Didn’t Get the Role

You already know that you’re not going to land most of the roles you audition for. Even if you employ every audition hack in the book, you’ll most of the time lose out to another actor. And that’s okay. Life goes on.

Before you progress to the next opportunity, just remember that you have the right to ask why you didn’t get the role. Agents expect this question and are only too happy to forward it to the casting team. Whether they hear back or not is another story; like auditions themselves, most such queries go nowhere. But on the off chance that your agent does get a substantive answer, it’s likely to be an important piece of the puzzle moving forward.

What’s Your Audition Secret?

Talk to a dozen successful actors and you’ll probably get a dozen different actionable audition tips. As with any advice-soliciting exercise, it’s important to evaluate whatever you hear through the lens of your own experience and self-knowledge. Not every audition tip is going to work for every aspiring actor, nor should it. Work hard enough and long enough and you will find your groove — or you’ll realize, regrettably, that maybe this acting thing isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.