When children think of making it big as an actor, they often think of performing on the Disney Channel and in Disney films. Which is a great dream.
However, big dreams should be accompanied by realistic goals. Making it at Disney does not happen overnight; it is a process that takes work and dedication.
Getting “discovered” is about auditioning as a well-trained, experienced actor who knows how to perform and handle herself in front of casting directors and the camera.
Sure you can visit Disney.com and find the open casting calls and show up hoping for the best, but without experience, you’ll probably end up with the worst – embarrassment and disappointment.
So we’ve dedicated this article to your preparation to audition at Disney. You must prepare, prepare, prepare: here’s how:
Build up your actor’s resume (and get great headshots).
Disney casting directors will inevitably look at your resume before they ever give you a glance; they want to see that you have A LOT of previous acting experience.
Auditioning for Disney is extremely competitive and fast-paced. Directors weed out the “amateurs” as quickly as possible; so don’t walk in looking like an amateur.
To build an impressive resume, begin participating in as much community and school theatre as possible.
Get the best training you can find and afford – for, both, stage and film.
Hire a private drama and acting couch, join a theatre program and even participate in your debate and speech club at school. (Any speaking instruction will add to your performing arts knowledge.)
Volunteer your acting skills!
Don’t hesitate to volunteer as much as you can (getting paid nothing now can pay off big later). Go to your local university and volunteer to act in student films and commercials; film and advertising students are constantly looking for actors.
Look for music videos that you can participate in.
If you’re planning to audition at Disney, you’re going to need singing and dancing talent (which you most likely already know – and hopefully do). Continue to improve these valuable skills by utilizing them in real life situations – singing and dancing around the living room will not be enough.
Do everything you can to build a reel that will accompany your full resume.
Learn absolutely as much as you can in your own area before making the big trek to Disney. The more you audition now, the more comfortable you’ll be when it comes time to perform at Disney.
After you feel you have ample training and experience, and great headshots and an impressive resume, congratulations – you’re ready for the next step!
It’s now time to audition for Disney!
To begin, look for audition lists online at disney.com and disneychannel.com. If you have an agent, put them on the search; they should have access to SAG directories and other listings. (If you don’t have an acting agent and would like to find one, read our blog post The Process of Finding a Children’s Acting Agent – Simplified.)
Then be selective in determining which roles you would be most suited for.
It’s not a good idea to audition for roles that you think you might be good in; only audition for roles that you know you’ll be good in. Casting directors often search for a very specific look, and if you don’t fall into that category, you’re wasting your time.
Once you’ve found an ideal audition and feel completely prepared to knock ’em dead with your experience and technique, then it’s show time.
Here are some helpful dos and don’ts for Disney auditioning day:
• Research absolutely everything ahead of time. Print out a map of the audition location and leave with at least an hour leeway – being too early only means you have more time to rehearse your lines.
• Wear professional clothing that is age-appropriate; casting directors are not looking for the next Jonbenet. So don’t overdo the hair and makeup and wear “pop star” ensembles – after all, you’re trying out for a children’s part.
• Bring plenty of copies of your resume, headshot and reel. Have everything printed on quality paper and have it organized and prepared in a tidy case (folded and crumpled papers in a backpack come out looking like old homework – not good).
• Have a snack or lunch prepared. You may have to wait a long time and a hungry actor is not a happy actor. You need your full brainpower for any impromptu scenes that you may have to perform.
• Read at your normal performance volume. Don’t get extra nervous because it’s Disney. You must try to stay as calm, collected and poised as possible. Casting directors like children who speak clearly and don’t rush their lines. Remember: kids speak much quicker to each other than adults do. Slow down. Don’t rush your lines believing it will impress them – it won’t.
• Be polite, professional, respectful and patient: no one wants to work with a complainer or a “princess”. Acting is a serious business and Disney is a serious company. Although you are embarking on a career much earlier than most people, this is your career, and you need to approach it like a job…not a hobby.
• Don’t look down. Always, always look up and toward the direction of the casting director. Looking down reflects insecurity and confusion.
• Expect the unexpected. Do you watch much reality TV? (Hopefully not – there’s no acting to learn from there!) But if do, you’ll know that directors love to add an element of surprise. This holds true for kid’s acting auditions too. Disney casting directors love to see how much improve, impromptu and direction a young actor can handle. If this happens at your Disney audition, just do your best and follow their direction exactly as announced. Don’t improvise direction that’s already been given.
• Never ask when you’ll know if you got the part. If there are 200 kids auditioning for the part, the last thing the casting director wants to do is answer the same question 200 times. If the director wants you back, they’ll definitely call you. The waiting game is hard, but it’s all part of the biz.
Above all, have fun! And be proud of yourself!
It’s an amazing accomplishment to make it to a Disney audition. So give yourself a big pat on the back for having the courage and gumption to make it this far.
And if you don’t get this part, don’t worry!
Maybe you’ll get the next one. Keep trying! The more you audition, the more you’ll know next time around. Every audition is a powerful learning experience preparing you for the next one. Best of luck!