A successful Disney Channel audition is how many of the most popular tween and teen stars in television, music and movies ended up in the spotlight. The Disney Channel is one of the largest entertainment channels in the world, and when it comes to auditions, the competition to land a spot can be fierce.
Open Casting Calls
Open casting calls are an option for those who are ready to audition. Disney is always in need of actors, dancers, singers, and extras, so there are many opportunities. There are often hundreds or thousands of people auditioning for a single spot.
You don't need an agent, a manager, or any connections in order to be able to attend an open casting call. In fact, the company has them because they want and need new, undiscovered talent.
- Children and teenagers aren't required to have acting experience, but it should be noted if they do.
- Young adults who can easily portray teenagers are sometimes cast even without extensive experience.
- Adults who aim to audition for parts should typically have plenty of acting parts on their resume, though this isn't always required.
Where to Find Casting Calls
You can find out about parts that are currently being cast in multiple ways:
- The Disney Channel website has a Talent Search page dedicated to posting all the details about current open auditions that are available all over the country.
Backstage has its own Disney Page that you can bookmark and check daily for any new parts that are being cast.
Check the entertainment pages of your local newspaper, which will likely list any open auditions by Disney that come near your town.
Preparing for an Open Call
Be extremely well-prepared for an open casting call. In order to stand out, you have to put in maximum effort. Use these tips to make sure you're ready for your big moment:
- Read all the instructions that are provided with the open audition announcement.
- Try to learn everything that you can about the character that you hope to portray. If it's a period piece, you don't want to come in wearing a fancy costume unless that is requested, but it is a good idea to put nice touches on your outfit that can help the director and casting agents see you in the part. For example, for a role set in 1985, jeans and teased hair may be a fun option. Subtle things show that you put in effort but don't come off as a caricature of the character.
- Look for the sides, which are the pages from the script that you'll be using in the audition. The sides will probably be available on the website or provided via email for open auditions. Sometimes they aren't given out until you arrive for the audition. If they are available in advance, learn them and try to work on the dialog with an acting coach.
- A tip that comes directly from Disney is to bring a crisp, clear headshot. If you have an acting resume staple it to the back of your headshot, and make sure that it looks professional. A headshot should show you at your best, and the image in your headshot should look similar to how you will appear when you walk in the door.
Know What to Expect
When you walk into an open call, the hundreds of other hopefuls who may have more experience than you can be intimidating. If you are bringing your child to an open call for Disney, you need to be sure that they are prepared for a lot of competition. A meltdown in front of casting directors is not the impression that you want to leave.
Try to manage your expectations beforehand. Jessica Simpson recalled how she attended an open call as a young girl, then completely froze up and did not make the final cut. All talented, successful entertainers make a mess of some auditions, and it isn't always easy to judge for yourself how well an audition went. Give it your all, then try to let it go when you walk out of the audition.
What to Do at an Open Call
While all casting calls are different, there are a few things that are expected of auditioners.
- Always smile and be polite to everyone that you meet. Treating people well is standard practice, but you may be surprised at how high up in the company someone may be that you encounter.
- You never know when someone may be watching. Producers and directors want to work with nice people who are agreeable and professional. If you are intimidating others in the waiting room or putting too much pressure on your child, you are letting them know that they shouldn't cast you or your child. Instead, show them why they should cast you with every action that you take from the time you walk in the place.
- There will usually be a reception area, and you should sign in to let the casting directors know that you are there. Follow all directions closely. At this time, ask any questions that you have about the process, but don't pester the receptionist. If you're not clear about what you should be doing, ask politely for further information. The worst mistake you can make is blowing off instructions at an audition.
- When you go into the room for the audition itself, introduce yourself, and look everyone in the eye. Drop into character when you are instructed to start the audition, and do not break out of your character until you are done. If you make a mistake, just continue on with the audition as if it never happened.
At the end of the audition, be sure to thank everyone who watched your performance. Take the cue from the casting directors on whether you should shake hands. Refrain from criticizing yourself even if you know you could have done better. Be positive and professional in order to leave a lasting impression.
Adult vs. Child Open Auditions
Adult performers who attend open casting calls with Disney should be even more vigilant about preparation than kids need to be.
- Grown-up actors should know all the lines, dress the part, and remain professional at all times.
- Have a headshot taken by a professional photographer and have it printed in color.
- Attach a resume that includes all of your major acting experience.
When it comes to child actors, casting directors are far more lenient. While professional headshots are preferable even for child actors, a high quality photograph taken by a parent will typically be accepted an open casting calls for kids. Be sure to read the specific requirements of each audition, though, as this may not be the case for every project. Know that the casting directors want your child to succeed and be just the talented actor they need.
Sometimes Disney gives aspiring actors the chance to audition online or by sending in a recorded DVD or tape. For example, two parts for the first Disney-produced Star Wars movie were cast by allowing anyone to send in a taped audition, though traditional agented submissions and open casting calls were also used for the film's casting.
Mail-in auditions are rare, but widely announced when they do occur because the point is to get many responses from aspiring actors. Keep in mind that you should not mail in or email a video audition unless Disney specifically announces that it is accepting that type of audition for a specific part.
The easiest way to get a Disney Channel movie audition is through an agent. Agents are informed about available roles and can submit a client's name for non-publicized roles. An agent also makes it easier for an inexperienced performer to find out about auditions. Agents know what casting directors are looking for and can provide valuable advice and information.
Experience for Agented Submissions
While experience is not necessary for open call auditions, it is oftentimes recommended for agented submissions. Beyond the fact that it's easier to get an agent if you can prove that you have previously acquired work based on your talent, past acting experience also helps the agent then sell your potential as an actor to producers, directors, and casting agents.
Working With an Agent
Your agent or that of your child will work with you every step of the way, but there are some things that you will need to provide on an ongoing basis.
- You must keep your agent supplied with plenty of current headshots along with your resume.
- Informed your agent of any progress and new skills that are acquired. You never know when a casting director will be looking for someone who can play a musical instrument or a particular sport.
- Practice and rehearse as much as possible before going into an audition. Be absolutely certain that you know your lines by heart.
Professional Audition Process
Booking an audition through an agent is similar to an open call, with a few key differences.
- An agent will call to let you know about a professional audition, and tell you the time and location. He will provide details and sides. It's important to study the sides and follow all instructions. If more of the movie script is available, you may opt to read it to get a better feel for your character, even though you only need to concern yourself with memorizing the sides.
- There will usually only be a few people in the room for an agented audition. Directors generally don't attend the first round of auditions, though he will sometimes be present.
- The casting director will later contact your agent, who will call you with feedback. That casting director usually explains if something went wrong, and your agent can pass along that information to you so that you don't make the same mistake at a future audition.
If the audition went really well and you are right for the part, you will probably then get a callback audition. If that happens you'll be asked to do the same scene and maybe an extra one. This time, more people will probably be at the audition.
Be sure to follow up with a polite thank you card to the Disney Channel casting director that you saw. Even if you didn't get the part, it is a nice way to follow up, express gratitude for the opportunity, and be remembered.
Keep a Healthy Attitude
Auditions happen regularly and the jobs tend to pay competitive rates. The variety of shows and films Disney produces is massive, and they always need talented people to fill the roles. A child who wins a role will gain valuable experience and a paycheck to put towards future education or career needs. Even if a child doesn't land a role the audition process is a valuable one. If your child is genuinely passionate about acting and performing, and he or she has real talent, consider trying out for a Disney Channel role.