Perhaps the best Audition Tip ever….

The best audition tip ever?

Go perform!  Somewhere, anywhere.

Find out what you are made of and if you can hold an audiences’ attention with your character needs and wants.  Do it in an audition room or a workshop, by shooting a web series or short,  sitting down with colleagues reading a screenplay, or in front of an audience in a play reading or play.  Big venue or small. Or just read a play in your house with a bunch of actors.

Warm up  your real acting muscles, create a fully embodied character and let ‘er rip. Those are the times the best actor in you can grow, thrive and be challenged to new creative expression.

It is truly the very best confidence booster. You will find that auditioning while your are in a run of a show, or shooting something else or after a good night reading a screenplay with friends, you have more to bring into an audition room.

With every audition, the “test” nature  of “proving”  or “selling” something is both very tempting and corrupting to the work. We push, we doubt, we criticize ourselves a lot.

Once you are working or shooting,  we tend to relax and focus on that which is truly important ( the story’s given circumstances, the stake in the story and the character POV and need)

Performing anywhere, the week or day before an audition, reminds us what is the true headset of the creative actor, and that is where you are kept honest about your character and performance.

The audience informs you: you can feel their energy. If you truly have their attention, you can feel their stillness and focus. If you are inauthentic or not in action, they fidget and cough and you can sense and hear it.

Caryn West is an veteran acting teacher, director and coach who auditions and acts. She has taught many gifted and well known actors both in LA and NYC and is the only teacher cited on both coasts by Backstage polls and one of the “BEST AUDITION COACHES”. She has run Caryn’s Space for Actors since 1999. Classses and coaching info can be found at:   Facebook   @CarynWestSFA   West Hollywood / NY


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Posted in Acting Technique, Actor Advice, Auditions, Uncategorized

Confidence & Subtlety in On Camera Auditioning

Confidence & Subtlety in On Camera Auditioning

Use secretiveness and relaxation to take the “push” out of the work




Caryn West is an veteran acting teacher, director and coach who auditions and acts. She has taught many gifted and well known actors both in LA and NYC and is the only teacher cited on both coasts by Backstage polls and one of the “BEST AUDITION COACHES”. She has run Caryn’s Space for Actors since 1999   Facebook   @CarynWestSFA   West Hollywood / NYC
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Posted in Acting Technique, Actor Advice, Auditions

Her Vision & Goals set in the 2015 class and now!

This kind of email from a former student in NYC makes my life were fulfilled and happy! ( Tricia was in the NYC  AUDITION INTENSIVE 2015 , the same kind of class back she first took from me in 1995, but very evolved from those times.)


So today ( Jan 18, 2018) I’m cleaning and organizing, and I found the binder I made with you in 2015 – the last time I took your social media/auditioning/vision class. I couldn’t believe when I read my one and five year vision statements and goals…I’ve accomplished so many of those goals.
It made me feel so happy and grateful and I just wanted to write you to tell you. And to thank you!!!!!
Some news on my end here:
  • I guest starred on Homeland in December and they want me back for another episode in a few weeks!
  • I just did my first sitcom in NY – Kevin Can Wait – opposite Kevin and Leah. Darren Goldstein  played blind dates for Leah and Kevin and we end up together. I learned a ton.  Kevin and one of the producers actually told me maybe we will see you back….so who knows about that! I  I am glad I got to have that experience.
  • My webseries Mommy Blogger just got optioned by Jim Biederman and Marla Ratner. I created, produced and have starred in this webseries over the past year and am super proud of it. I think of what we have shot as “proof of concept” and that’s how Jim and Marla think of it too. I’ve included a ton of actors I love and respect and have great people lined up for the future. The next step is meeting with Jim and Marla’s agents – CAA – and the goal is to connect with a celebrity producer.    When I began meetings with Jim and Marla, honestly I was prepared for them to say “This is great, but networks will want a star and are you willing to sell the idea….” And to be honest I was! I love the idea of being a creator and exec producer of something and I want it to happen. But Jim and Marla INSIST that I play this role, and Kevin Isola play Jared. They are optioning it based on what we made…and who the cast is. Of course Networks will have final say on casting…and we will deal with that when it comes! But the reason they want to attach a celebrity producer is they believe a celebrity actor will agree with them, and that it wouldn’t be funny to have a name actor play my part because its so much about the desire for fame….
We will see. But I feel excited to be at the bottom of this mountain…that I get to be on the mountain range and I get to try to climb it!….is exciting.
  • Another web series I helped to create with my group of support friends (one of whom took the class with you! Laura Shooop!) has just been picked up by Scary Mommy. They are giving our group 30k to produce five more episodes and our webseries will become a Scary Mommy production which has millions of followers….it is pretty exciting that a group of friends (I think I told you about our group!) who gathered weekly to help each other with auditions, would be able to create something like this.
  • I did record music in Nashville for my website, and
  • I did star in a musical at Sacramento Music Circus where my whole family (35 people) came to see me over the past summer. I love Dolly Parton and can channel her and I played the role of Doralee in the musical 9 to 5 last summer. I was so happy to see that as two of my super specific goals in my five year plan were accomplished….and now I have a wonderful relationship with a regional theatre near my hometown that I can envision working at again and again.
  • Now one of my goals is to finally create a one or two person show about Dolly Parton because I know I have a gift for channeling her. The world loves her music and her presence. And I want to create a show I can do anywhere where I get to channel her and give that to people.
WOW. Envisioning and list making works.
Happy for you to share any of this  . Or I’m happy to craft something much shorter for your newsletter? Honestly Im happy to share this with you privately too…I just wanted to share and thank you for the encouragement and support along the way!
Now its time to do my next one year and five year plan!
xx Hope all is well in your world.

Love, Tricia”
Posted in Actor Advice, Auditions, Current and Alumni Success! and Testimonials, Uncategorized

Gary Oldman in the DARKEST HOUR and what he told me…

In December last year, with all the film screenings for awards season, there was one performance I had to see twice. It was both inspirational and so inconceivably wonderful; that of Gary Oldman’s as Winston Churchill.

Mr. Oldman was at the second screening I attended and he described to us all his year long journey to capture this portrayal. (see link below for  details of his research and actor preparation)

It involved much preparation and care: he had hired a dialect coach to rid himself of his Americanized accent, having lived in the US for so long. He hired a singing teacher to help him lower his natural tenor to achieve some of Churchill’s baritone notes. He worked closely with a make up artist he trusted, who came out of retirement for this film, to create a believable look that would transform the slight Mr. Oldman into the paunchy, round Mr. Churchill.

He first read for 2 months all he could about Churchill at this historic time, before he touched the screenplay. Before shooting started, he memorized all his script dialogue and Churchill’s most  famous speeches from this time.

He carried an App on his phone with all Churchill’s recorded speeches. He sat in Churchill’s chair in the British “War Room” and observed the anxious marks and scratches left on the arm rails by his antecedent in that chair.

He asked for and was given Winston’s brand of cigars (smoking 12 a day, he ended up with nicotine poisoning and stomach problems halfway through the shoot). He arrived at the very first table read of the screenplay, with the assembled cast, in full Churchill costume and makeup.

I thoroughly believe Gary Oldman will win the Oscar for this performance ( I am not so prescient – the Golden Gloves, the SAG Awards, BAFTA and BIFA have already agreed and given him their highest best male performance in a film this year)

Because he did his homework!  Thus the detail, passion, self doubt and the glory of the Winston Churchill are all there. And I suspect Mr. Oldman loved every scary moment diving into this part.

Speaking to Gary Oldman after DARKEST HOUR screening

After the SAG Sponsored screening and Q&A,  I fought my adopted pose of jadedness and waited to say a few words to him.  I found myself very emotional for variety of reasons and thanked him for detailing how much work truly goes into such a performance.

Because I struggle to inspire young actors now to go the extra step and do the RESEARCH and see how it pays off in work such as his. We talked about formal training. He bemoaned the 2 year actor programs and said he preferred 3 year one as he had ! (As did I in a MFA program. Those 3 years in school, become a blissful, uninterrupted 3 years to purely concentrate on voice, dance, movement, singing, dialects and craft. )

For my money, Mr. Oldman’s effort in this part was just a rigorous and sublime as Lindsey Vonn’s to come back from knee and leg surgery and race in her third Olympics. An Olympic Acting Feat.

I hope you see THE DARKEST HOUR. It is a portrait of an imperfect leader who withstood doubt and overwhelming odds to give his nation the courage to stand up to a bully (Hitler), whom everyone else was trying to placate. The future of Europe, as we still knew it, hung in the balance. Thank God Mr. Churchill inspired a nation to resist.

This is artistry at its best; to inspire us to do similar things in our own lives.

*more on Mr. Oldman’s preparation

Caryn West is an veteran acting teacher, director and coach who auditions and acts. She has taught many gifted and well known actors both in LA and NYC and is the only teacher cited on both coasts by Backstage polls and one of the “BEST AUDITION COACHES”. She has run Caryn’s Space for Actors since 1999   Facebook   @CarynWestSFA   West Hollywood / NYC
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What these Olympians can teach us…

Feb 20, 2018

Goals Setting sure, but then …Train and Practice!

February every 4 years  is sacrosanct time to me and my family. Watching these Olympics in Pyeyongchang, I so admire the immense efforts of Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Schiffrin in their last races. They have withstood huge public pressure and expectations, and even some very mean Twitter trolling. There are truly the most winning and remarkable female athletes in Alpine skiing. Ever. I am awe of them.


Caryn Ski Racing

Long before I was an actress, I aspired to be an Olympian. I made it to the US Alpine Team B team but missed the smaller cut for the Olympics twice (once too young, once too slow).  I was lucky to find  a passion just as consuming in acting. But I got far enough along in the sport and won enough to grasp some fundamentals about excellence and performance mentality under pressure. (And yes, that is Jean Claude Killy the 3 time Gold medalist and first overall World Cup winner. I got to meet and ski with him and my mind was a blur in this picture as he was GOD of the slopes!… He tried acting too! )

Skiing is much more sophisticated now in all respects, than in my day. The preparation for a 100 second Olympic Downhill is measured in months and years to be ready and fit.  Sure I trained hard, or so I thought. But Lindsey Vonn took preparation to a new level. Now these skiers spend a ratio of 6 hours in the gym for every of 1-2 hours on the hill skiing.  And in the wind tunnel working on their aerodynamics and running thousands of gates on the mountain.
You cannot hold the high speed turns on these rock hard courses without extreme strength, balance and agility. Vonn’s training regimen sometimes restarts the day after a surgery, still in a cast or still in rehab. It explains how she has miraculously come back from injury many times to dominate her events for over 12 years.
Eleven years her junior, Mikaela Schiffrin, the reigning World Cup overall champion,  is now dominating in Slalom and Giant Slalom. But she is branching out, even winning a downhill this year beating Lindsey! She also is famously driven in training and analyzes her technique on video more than anyone. Between the two of them, they have won more World Cup races than any other American. Mikaela was only 18 and the youngest to win an alpine ski Olympic Gold medal, and at 23 has won 41 thus far.  Vonn is 6 wins away from being the best ski racer , woman or man, with the most victories in the history of Alpine Skiing( currently having won 81 World Cup races).
Yes, both set their goals on Gold. But neither ever rest on past laurels or talent. Their focus and discipline are legend.
In acting, we have hear about and seen the same kind of dedication and meticulous preparation in the work of Daniel Day Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gary Oldman this year (my Oscar hunch), Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman,  Jessica Chastain, Alfred Molina, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hardy, Bradley Cooper, Marion Cottillard,  Vanessa Redgrave, and my underrated  favorite, Andrea Riseborough to name a few superb actors.
This kind of talent does not rely on moment to moment intuitions. These actors still go to class, have coaches to work on dialects, voice and body changes, on script analysis, ask alot of questions of themselves and others. They read alot about history, psychology and time period, explore the walk, the habits and physical tics of their characters and often want to inhabit their clothes early or raid their own closets. They practice their characters until they don’t just understand their role, they are LIVING the role. And that takes time. But like Vonn and Schiffrin, it pays off. Olympic actor effort.
I just played a neurologist doctor/ friend to Lena Olin in the film THE ARTISTS WIFE. The director gave me access to the neurologist who actually treated his father and Lena wanted to hear all of the long recording of what the doctor and I discussed about the disease and working with dementia patients and their families. That research lead to details in the scene, script changes and ideas that made our characters more authentic. I hope it brought more levels to our work.
I find young actors less and less interested in this kind of research about a character or dwelling in the details that can lead to character revelations.
Our whole culture wants results so quickly. The speed requested for self taping , the fury of a 4-6 week pilot season, the rush to get you into an office.  It is daunting, especially for auditions. Most settle for learning the lines, hoping for the best when they get to the audition and waiting for inspiration to show up.
Other things I learned from ski racing: a Positive Winning Mind Set is essential. How to Play, and Focus on the Process ( just the next turn) not the result. At the end of the race, there is only ever one  “winner”. But all you can truly do on race day is your personal best and not sabotage yourself worrying about the competition or others’ expectations.
Nobody thought much of my abilities when I started acting. I did not know how to even read a play well. But I worked my butt off  in college classes, in a 3 year MFA  program (which had the best Linklater voice teacher I could find as I was told it was my weakest skill), worked on dance and movement to be less a ski racer and more graceful actress, and years of NYC and LA classes and was taught to really think about the dramatic writing in Stella Adler’s famous and beloved Script Interpretation classes.  I still study when I feel rusty or uninspired.
I can learn most camera audition material in an hour. It is tempting to sometimes learn it the same day of an appointment. But I force myself to pore over the script for twice as long the day before, looking for details, hearing my lines or dialogue out loud, to make sure I am really listening. I am tempted to make short cuts. But short cuts make me doubt myself later when I am called on to deliver. I do not work on material until “I get it right”. I work on it until “I can’t get it wrong”.
Training and in depth preparation lead to the gems and discoveries in acting and expansion of your skills. I remind my students all the time: “God is in the details” and ” Genius is an infinite capacity for detail”.  So set the Goals,  but then do the little Steps  and  Give it your Gold medal effort.
Study and fall in love with the craft again.  oxcaryn
Caryn West is an veteran acting teacher, director and coach who auditions and acts. She has taught many gifted and well known actors both in LA and NYC and is the only teacher cited on both coasts by Backstage polls and one of the “BEST AUDITION COACHES”. She has run Caryn’s Space for Actors since 1999   Facebook   @CarynWestSFA   West Hollywood / NYC
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Posted in Acting Technique, Auditions

Actor Goals for 2017 : A Successful Actor’s Testimonial

Returning from a Chicago shoot this fall,  I ran into Australian actor Dan MacPherson boarding the same plane back to LA. I had coached him for a time about 4 years ago. But the jobs were just not coming.  Back then, I know I told him some things he did not want to hear.  We both shared a great love of sports, especially of endurance sports, but I forewarned him they could sap his creative juices and make emotional access difficult. (In the months I trained for 2 NYC marathons in the 80s, I did not book a single acting job. Later, I realized it was a time when I was literally running away from many things in my life.)

So, I was so happy to see him and hear that he had been working a great deal in the last couple of years and several episodes of a new series in Chicago. By the time the plane landed, he found out he had also landed the lead in a new series shooting in Europe!  As I always ask booking actors, “so what is now working?”  he told me and promised to write me up a little testimonial about decisions he had made that changed his trajectory as an actor.

Mid December, he sent me this:


It was so great to see you in Chicago, and what a wonderful synchronicity that we had both been filming on exciting shows over there! Even more so that I got the news I had been waiting for while ON that flight! Gotta live in flight wifi!
 It was 2012 when we met and began working together. I had just arrived from Australia and after a successful 15 year career in TV and Film back home, looking to make what I thought would be a swift and successful transition into US industry and into my glittering Hollywood career! We spoke also of our mutual love of sports, marathon running in particular, and for me Ironman triathlons.  When I mentioned that I was still racing and training some 25 hours a week, you tactfully but firmly told me that there’s no way that I could commit so much effort to something outside of my career and still succeed in my work the way I wanted to.
Of course as a 32 year old Australian alpha male, I was having none of it.
That was until about 2 years later, where I hadn’t picked up any work in the US. I was getting close on network tests, but for some reason falling at the final hurdle. In fact, not being able to crack that final barrier to booking a job drove me harder into my training and racing. So much so I went and qualified for 2 amateur world championships and earned the right to my US Pro triathlon license. But of course, it was all just prolonging the agony of not achieving what I wanted in my acting.
Soon after, summer of 2014, I had the epiphany.  I was racing an Ironman triathlon in Bavaria, Germany. It was over 100F, and after the 2.4 mile swim, and the 112 mile bike, I was coming up to 13 miles into the marathon run.  My day had started well but the wheels were falling off. My body was overheating, I couldn’t stomach any calories, my vision was beginning to blur and my legs were of course in burning agony. If I was a race car,  I was out of gas and the engine had exploded. The tyres were probably melted too. It wasn’t pretty. As I pushed on and dug deeper into my reserves, mentally and physically, I had a moment of clarity….
 “What the F**K am I doing here?” I asked myself. Not in the way that athletes ask themselves in times of exhaustion, but asked in a much bigger way.
 “What am I doing HERE?”.  As in, why the hell am I 8 hours into a triathlon in rural Germany, when I should be in LA, working my ass off in acting class and auditions to book myself a job that I love.
Your words from years before came flooding clearly back of course.
I literally waived down the next on-course medic, got a ride in an ambulance to get 4 litres of IV fluid, and began planning my assault on LA over a stein of ice cold Bavarian lager.
Over the next month or two, I quit everything that I thought was or may be a distraction from succeeding in my goal of being a regular working actor in the USA. i quit triathlon, in fact i quit riding my bike altogether, i quit TV hosting ( which i was doing back in Australia to pay the bills). I ruthlessly quit everything that was taking time and energy away from my growth as an artist.
I changed my training to more weights based training, specifically for roles coming through. I get a lot of cop/soldier/navy seal type stuff, so I got in shape for that. I booked into regular acting classes. I worked privately with different teachers. I read. lots. man I read lots. I still do. I watched everything. TV series, film. I went back and watched old movies with new eyes. I studied actors. I did student films. I wrote stories. I studied art. I put all that time from triathlon training into the growth of my career.
And surprise surprise… the results we almost immediate. Within 3 months I had booked my first recurring role in a series. A few months later, the lead in a film. I havent stopped working since.
2016 has been a breakthrough year for me, and the direct result of that hard work and focus. As I  write this now, I’m on a flight back from Chicago when I have been working on new FOX series APB, a few weeks ago I worked on my first 100 million dollar film with director Ava DuVernay, and in the new year I head to Europe to start filming a lead role in Cinemax/Sky series Strike Back. 
I’m not saying its that simple, there were a a lot of other factors involved, but from the experience I have had over the past few years and knowing just how competitive this industry is right now, it took that absolute focus for me to crack through.
If I can offer any advice from my time in LA –  Stay strong, learn from the rejections. Its not personal. Work on the weaknesses that may hold you back. There are so many things out of your control in booking a job, you MUST master the ones that are IN your control. Character, Accent, Physicality, Emotional Accessability, Imagination, all the way through to having the right visa! Its the most competitive time in TV history right now, so you have to work harder than ever before to achieve what your goals. Also, it may not be when you are expecting it, but hard work NEVER goes unrewarded.
Big thanks Caryn, and all the best to you and your students for the holidays.
Wishing you a  successful & prosperous 2017!
Dan MacPherson”
These are such inspiring words. So ease up on the networking and study, truly study and COMMIT TO WHY YOU ARE REALLY HERE! Write those goals down and sort out a monthly and weekly action plan to get there like Dan. It works.
Caryn West is an veteran acting teacher, director and coach who auditions and acts. She has taught many gifted and well known actors both in LA and NYC and is the only teacher cited on both coasts by Backstage polls and one of the “BEST AUDITION COACHES”.  She has run Caryn’s Space for Actors since 1999   Facebook   @CarynWestSFA   West Hollywood / NYC
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Posted in Actor Advice, Auditions, Current and Alumni Success! and Testimonials, Observations

Rejection-The lessons when they say “no”

RejectionIt happens, even to this teacher!

On June 2 and just yesterday June 28, 2016, I had 2 heartbreaking passes on great jobs, after callbacks I prepared extensively for.

One from a theater I was dying to work at ( 7 weeks in Sag Harbor at a venue always reviewed by the NY TIMES)  and the other, for a part that has been on my goal list for 10 years in the play DOUBT. I worked hard on both, finding the characters’ demeanors, clothes, accents: for both  an Atlanta lady, the other a Bronx born woman. One a Jew, one a nun. One a comedy, one a drama. Memorized as much as I could. Two very accomplished actresses worked and read with me as part of my prep. They both were very reassuring that I was on point. I adore character work and love the writing of both plays. I showed up determined to do my best.

One never knows what they are thinking, but when everyone is laughing and grinning as you finish a comic scene, it’s a good sign. For DOUBT, the nods and the director thanking me for my adjustment and the hug from the CD as they released us, raises ones hope.

I have learned spiritually that it is better to hope and not protect yourself with cynicism or jadedness. I believe your energy of abundance is read by the world and you are treated as well as you think about yourself. I expect to succeed. I expect to ask for more money. I have learned to have this faith in myself in a slowly evolving process of self love. I am good. I am successful. I do give back. I am  grateful for these opportunities and many other blessings in my life.

And yet, they can still can say no.
I wasn’t rejected because I was not right, or not ready, or ill prepared, or did something goofy in the room that confused them. That kind of rejection I strive to avoid, because those are things I can be responsible for. But sometimes, yes, you just guess wrong, they simple having something else in mind or you get typed out quickly. Next.

After my first happy callback, the theater put me in a holding pattern for 7 weeks. I got repeated calls from the CD via my manager that the decision was around the corner. Then 4 days before rehearsals would start out of town and I would have to empty my NYC sublet on impossibly short notice to get there, they cast a “name” whose shooting schedule had cleared up. I learned: that my schedule and considerations matter too and I won’t ever wait to the 11 1/2th hour like that again. Book me in a timely manner or release me! I have a life to plan too. I had let go of my value allowing the waiting to go on far too long. Good lesson.

For DOUBT (at a wonderful theater and with director I have worked before to excellent effect and reviews) at the callback I was one of 5 actresses to read  for over 2 hours with 3 different actors.  Two big juicy scenes. The first footing, I was wedded to an idea in my head of how a confrontation scene sounded and I was not as present to the other actor as I could have been. The director also gave me a very smart adjustment to bring back with the next person I read with. I made sure to breathe more and stay in the moment. I saw their nods and she thanked me with “really good adjustment Caryn”. Eventually, the CD came upstairs to dismiss us and gave me a hug, and hugged the lovely actress sitting next to me who I know and admire. But I was hopeful leaving.

Yesterday, another NO: via email from my equally dashed manager relaying some kind words from the CD’s solicitous phone call to her. Turns out that lovely actress sitting next to me got it.

Well it hurts. I was on a business call when I saw my manager’s email pop up with the last bad news and I burst out crying. The business person on the phone had a daughter who wants to go into musical theater. Through tears, I said “Well, tell her after 37 years, pros still have days like this”. I have learned to grieve appropriately and not dismiss the feeling right away, or it will transmute into something blacker later. I give myself a little mourning period and shared my loss with some of my support system.

The lesson this time? Still not sure, but I have many days like this. We all do. My manager said she was going to look for the play again. The casting director made the effort to call my manager, laud the work I did and say I would see him again soon. So… this time at least I reminded my value to colleagues.

I do know there are no “next times” with any theater, director or casting person if you don’t give it your best, don’t move them in some way,  come from an authentic place or present with a fresh way of doing a role they did not expect. ( In fact, in NYC in May, I was cast in a staged reading in a new play as Mrs Charles Dickens. According to the playwright later, the role was really precast with a English friend but then I came in and they could not deny me the role.  So that time it worked.)  But in the best of weeks or months there are 10 to 30 “No”s by my estimate for every singular “Yes”.

But Success is not measured so much solely by the “Yes”, but by being called back again, and again, for something else by the same people!  Or, they may just like you because you are low maintenance as well as talented. And for being gracious when the cards don’t fall your way.

Its been tough this month for me, but I plan on thank you cards to those who brought me in. Gratitude. God has bigger plans for me. And today,  much of that mysterious plan got revealed too.

As a consoling friend reminded me yesterday while still in the dumps, “Something else big is coming, so don’t leave 5 minutes before the miracle.”

Keep preparing to your highest abilities, and showing up with both homework done and spontaneity! Cause we LOVE this, right?

Caryn West is an veteran acting teacher, director and coach who auditions and acts. She has taught many gifted and well known actors both in LA and NYC and is the only teacher cited on both coasts by Backstage polls and one of the “BEST AUDITION COACHES”. She has run Caryn’s Space for Actors since 1999.   Facebook   @CarynWestSFA   West Hollywood / NYC

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Posted in Actor Advice, Auditions

“It’s Slow Right Now”

March 30, 2016

With 36 professional seasons in the business, I cannot tell you how many times and seasons I have heard “it’s slow right now”.  That does not mean an actor must acquiesce to this recurrent refrain.

Activity breeds Activity: The business has many new evolving trends but has always been very cyclical. The proactive actor must prove the “slow” refrain wrong by staying active and ready, and which renews enthusiasm. So when the tide turns back your way, you can jump in with more glee and confidence.

Find a project, a play reading, take a class, make some contacts.  I myself enjoyed 3 SAG FOUNDATION VO Lab classes in the last week, found a terrific private voiceover coach in Sara Krieger and I have a callback for a play festival tomorrow ( thank you Judy Bowman). To stay fit, I am relearning tennis at all the cool venues around town. Who knew Grand Central had a top tennis court? or NYC Parks and Recreation are issuing summer court permits now.

The “Slow” Refrain never lasts:
Today,  I checked on the ever current and accurately updated ( fantastic company) and found and astonishing 25 pages of current projects in NYC alone for film, theater and episodic television. Don’t believe me?

March 30th 2016 Casting Landscape:
Here is a pdf of their  25 pages of NYC Projects Currently Casting.
Or access it yourself. They give a special one week free to my peeps at

Don’t stagnate, Get busy! If you need to find out out how to get more info like this, or have your butt lovingly kicked into gear, come to one of our classes below!

ox caryn 
Caryn West is an veteran acting teacher, director and coach who auditions and acts. She has taught many gifted and well known actors both in LA and NYC and is the only teacher cited on both coasts by Backstage polls and one of the “BEST AUDITION COACHES”. She has run Caryn’s Space for Actors since 1999.   Facebook   @CarynWestSFA   West Hollywood / NYC
Posted in Acting Technique, Actor Advice, Auditions, Observations

Focusing On Fear Will Do Two Things:

Great Reminders from CSFA alum WENDY BRAUN!

Discover the two things focusing on fear will do + what might happen when you face your fear + triumph over it.

Source: Focusing On Fear Will Do Two Things

Posted in Actor Advice, Auditions, Uncategorized

Will Smith, The Power of Intention + Me

I adore Wendy’s actor affirmation work and use it quite often to stay sharp.

Learn how Will Smith first aligned with his super-star status + how Wendy  aligned with him.

Source: Will Smith, The Power of Intention + Me

Posted in Acting Technique, Actor Advice

Amy Poehler Is Really Making Herself Uncomfortable 

Wow. If you said YES all the time, you might come up with a few more projects too!

The actress, comedian, and producer is throwing herself into new waters as a multimedia entrepreneur. It’s funny, actually.   Source: Amy Poehler Is Really Making Herself Uncomfortable | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

Posted in Uncategorized

CD Brette Goldstein’s Tips for Audition Etiquette

Really great stuff from a CD I really admire. And she loves and roots for actors.

Source: CD Brette Goldstein’s 6 Tips for Audition Etiquette | Backstage Actor Interviews | Acting Tips & Career Advice | Backstage | Backstage

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Tips for Saving Yourself From Scams | Backstage


Sara Mornell’s advice is very, very good. Don’t want any of you subjected to the myriad ways the hopeful actor can be taken.  Her article.

BTW if you want actors testimonies about Caryn’s Space for Actors, you can go to the:

Kilner Head Shot

Kevin Kilner

“Run to Caryn, do not walk. I’ve been a Professional over 30 years, studied with some gifted, excellent teachers. No one is more talented, thorough, & on the edge of what is the latest in the Industry, Social Media’s use in it, script analysis, & acting craft for the camera.  If you are looking for the Real Deal? It’s Caryn West. “

Posted in Acting Technique, Actor Advice, Auditions, Current and Alumni Success! and Testimonials, Observations, Uncategorized

Beyond the Tips and Tricks!

Really, the truth about great auditioning is NOT all about our Tips and Tricks!

It would seem the industry now floods our email boxes with all theses “Top  10” or 7 or 6 or whatever lists of tips about auditioning. They are written by well meaning and often, very experienced  folks in the biz. But I worry that many of these articles make for neat and tidy “byte sizable” content, recalling the Readers Digest, and are as incomplete and superficial as that magazine could be.  Yes,  I have been seduced  into giving these tips myself, because “this tip trend” is now how we get your attention to share what we know.

But I am reconsidering what all this quick bullet-pointed info is doing to us,  and whether it actually inspires us to the real craft and soulful artistry we need to bring into audition rooms to be seriously considered and cast.

Maybe we should ban the idea of  “Auditioning  Tips” altogether?!

Because this trend makes you focus on…just that, a bag of tricks, not your best acting.  Let’s instead start a movement called “Anti- Auditioning”.  And here’s why:

The “Preread” is now gone for most on camera projects (or is done without you there, by the CD viewing your online reel or Googling you).  So now, if you get the appointment,  the only READ is taped and often watched later. In any event, you are there to tell the need of the character in the circumstance and the story of the scene. Just as you would deliver it on set or on the stage. NO DIFFERENCE in what needs to happen.

And when you are cast, and this has happened to me personally more that once, the director on set encouraged me to do “exactly what you did”  in the taped audition. In other words, repeat the full PERFORMANCE you gave on tape please. And really, what I had done in the audition ….was just focus on my own delight in playing the character and telling the story of that scene.

Whereas when we “audition” instead of “play” , we are often pushing to prove our worthiness and it harms the work, trying to be clever kills the work,  and tricks… just make you slick. WAIT A SLICK MINUTE: They really want and need  your depth and immersion in the moment, your character focused on pursuing a need or want in the scene. A character in action in pursuit of a high stake need always draws our attention in an organic way. Thats what really makes them sit up and notice!

If you get caught up in all these little tips and tricks,  perhaps it is hurting the depth of your work and perception of what really and truly counts.

My Advice:  DON’T EVER AUDITION AGAIN!  Abandon the “Tips”,  and let  deeper questions drive your creation.

Dig in: In the preparation, do a detailed background on your character for yourself, so details can emerge, enter the space courageously and ready to collaborate, believe in yourself and the gift your are giving, celebrate your craft, and TELL THE STORY as best you can from the POV of your character, but being in the moment with your reader. Share your vulnerability with the reader and truly try to engage them with your spirit and eyes. Reveal something unique and dangerous about that character that noone but you could share. Then leave, grateful for a chance to act, like you would the stage door or the movie lot. That’s it!

Yes, you need to technically adjust to the medium you are doing the story for : either 500 seat theater, 99 seater, 4 camera, one hour drama and film closeup etc. But once that calibration is made, get on with the truth of the character and their need and create the story. AND THAT IS WHAT WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU BEST IN ANY AUDITION.

More questions to deepen the work:

What secret may my character be hiding? Are they in love? Do they like or hate  their job?  How do they move unlike you do? Are they in a position or authority or powerlessness? How do they dress? Do they have private rituals? How do they walk and hold themselves? What are the social protocol rules of their world and period?  What role or purpose in life drives the character most? And make sure to personalize/transfer/substitute the relationships, thats when the work really heats up (“the real lover/mother/ brother I am talking to is____”). Otherwise, its all too intellectual.

Work on the lines and movement and thoughts and feelings til they are a true and easy reality. Move and think as this character. What drives my character?  How is the character different in private, how am I like the character, how am I unlike the character and how do I reach the POV to think and feel like him/her? Why must my character keep their secrets secret? Essentially, fall in love with the world and spirit of your character.

Auditioning should be no different than the readiness to act on set.  Forget about it as some test or “I need to prove something” idea of auditioning. If you take care of the real artistic work of being an actor, it will take care of you.

Oppose Auditioning.  Instead, join the “Act at my highest level, Now and Whenever” Movement, and leave the tricks behind. Give it a shot oxcw@csfa

Caryn West is an veteran acting teacher, director and coach who auditions and acts. She has taught many gifted and well known actors both in LA and NYC and is the only teacher cited on both coasts by Backstage polls and one of the “BEST AUDITION COACHES”. She has run Caryn’s Space for Actors since 1999.   Facebook   @CarynWestSFA   West Hollywood / NYC

Posted in Acting Technique, Actor Advice, Auditions

Specificity of Action at the start of your audition


How to make your audition tape pop right at the top? A basic tool we sometimes forget….


(The book I reference to choose a strong opening tactic is : Actions: The Actors’ Thesaurus (Paperback) by Marina Caldarone , Maggie Lloyd-Williams)

Caryn West is an veteran acting teacher, director and coach who auditions and acts. She has taught many gifted and well known actors on both coasts and is the only teacher cited on both coasts by Backstage polls and one of the “BEST AUDITION COACHES” She has run Caryn’s Space for Actors since 1999.   Facebook   @CarynWestSFA   West Hollywood / NYC

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Posted in Acting Technique, Actor Advice, Auditions

1st Video Advice to Book More Acting Jobs

“Are you ready?!?”  Take the time to do this, right at the start of the audition.

And what’s a “butt breathe” ? mmm, more on that and really tapping into your creative source soon!


Caryn West is an acting teacher, director and an audition coach who auditions and acts. She has taught on both coasts and is the only teacher cited on both coasts by Backstage polls as one of the “BEST AUDITION COACHES” She has run Caryn’s Space for Actors since 1999.   Facebook   @CarynWestSFA

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Posted in Acting Technique, Actor Advice, Auditions, Observations

A Major Waiting Room Distractor

At the Audition: A Major Waiting Room Distractor to Avoid. Instead stay focused on the task at hand.

Caryn West is an acting teacher, director and coach who auditions and acts. She has taught on both coasts and is the only teacher cited on both coasts by  Backstage polls and one of the “BEST AUDITION COACHES” She has run Caryn’s Space for Actors since 1999.   Facebook   @CarynWestSFA

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Posted in Auditions

There Are Too Many Actors…


There Are Too Many Actors … “Who Say They Are Actors”

Okay, I got your attention. But there is genuine concern that our culture of “get it quick” often derails the path to true craft and expert skills that take time, patience and consistent practice. To respectfully call ourselves professionals, we have to look at how much real work we are putting into it. Here are some distinctions between the genuine WORKING ACTORS I am privileged to watch or help, and those who can only “TALK THE WALK”.

After alot of observation, I would say:

Those who “Say They Are Actors”:

  • Have never done a play or been in front of an audience for any length of time (often resulting in not knowing how to repeat a performance for more than 2 takes when needed)
  • Have never taken a speech or diction class, even though its been suggested more than once and yes, clarity on camera counts
  • Just try to be “in the moment” as themselves with no consideration for what the story needs (is it period or genre? is there a dialect involved, what’s your function in the scene)
  • Have never heard of Uta Hagen’s “First 6 Steps”, Meisners’ emphasis on actions and tactics, Michael Chekhov’s use of “psychological gesture”, Stella Adler’s use of “As If” substitutions, or of Stanislavsky’s terms “Superobjective”, “Objective” or “Intention”.
  • Say they have no money for acting class, but have just enough for networking and cold reading classes where they get 10 minutes to work but not improve significantly.
  • Don’t call a coach or good actor friend to work on a big role opportunity
  • Think holding the script and knowing the lines 80% is enough, and look down at the page often when lost. Even on the very first line.
  • Have no idea how to rehearse alone but know how to wing it!
  • Use the long waiting room time well to check all that email
  • Think a “beat change” is a musical term.
  • Think the business sucks alot, it’s ” who you know”, and is unfair.

where as I observe that

Real Actors:

  • Think like artists, study and reflect the human experience and the world around them
  • Study and learn new craft at every stage of their career : voice, movement, dialects, dance, singing, new acting techniques, memorization skills, improv, Shakespeare.  (From friends’ reports: Maggie Smith did vocal warmups every day with the company the year she worked at Stratford Shakespeare Festival and went to Alexander class regularly during the long run of Lettice and Lovage, Mark Rylance does 20 minutes of improv with the cast before any performance.)
  • Create their own stories, heart projects and opportunities with good actors they met and trust in acting class
  • Learn to write, edit, or do service with a theater or production company
  • Read scripts/plays out loud with friends…alot
  • Can hear and speak the rhythm of a writer the way a dancer hears it in the music and their body.
  • Debate plays and movies profoundly, prickily, yes pretentiously at times, but passionately (i.e. Welles and O’Toole and others debate HAMLET: and thus we learn from peers about what makes the story work or not. The BBC series “SHAKESPEARE UNCOVERED” is a blissful examination of many of  Shakespeare’s most beloved plays and parts by some of our finest actors:
  • Enjoy doing research on their role and work on a script, not till they “get it right”, but til “they cannot get it wrong” and thus are confident at the audition
  • Know how to rehearse alone -using tools, like self taping, Rehearsal 2 or a voice recorder to hear the dialogue
  • Know some luck is involved and feel grateful when things fall their way and make the most of it.
  • Hold the script in the audition, but secretly are 110% off book and maybe refer to it once.
  • Meditate on the task at hand quietly in the waiting room
  • Book because they gave a researched, rehearsed yet are free-now-to-be-in-the-moment, realized performance.

Commit to the Real Actor within you , and enjoy the creative journey!



Caryn West is an acting teacher, director and a coach who auditions and acts. She has taught on both coasts and is the only teacher cited on both coasts by Backstage polls as one of the “BEST AUDITION COACHES”. She has run Caryn’s Space for Actors since 1999. Facebook @CarynWestSFA

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Posted in Acting Technique, Actor Advice

Stage Fright a.k.a. Performance Anxiety in the Audition

Image_3For many actors, the task of auditioning remains an agonizing experience. Despite good work displayed in classes, workshops and rehearsals and as imagined in one’s own mind, the talent remains hidden.

A host of fears and their manifestations may come to the fore: Nausea, panic, extreme anxiety, physical mannerisms, a sense of helplessness, hostility, a “cool” delivery, tremors, breathlessness, muscle tension, defensiveness, a lack of spontaneity and creativity that has been immobilized.

Performance anxiety cannot always be entirely addressed within the confines of an acting class. Psychotherapy has provided so many highly trained specialists who address the issues of diminished self worth and deeply imbedded conflicts. Hypnosis helps some, but I have seen many transform by dedicating themselves to simple breathing techniques in meditation or through a regular yoga practice.

What I have designed in the Audition Skills class are many practical tools to help you cope with the natural stresses of auditioning, to learn to embrace the energy of your anxiety and to let it fuel the concrete tasks at hand. (After all, what kind of risk taking is not accompanied by anxiety?)

By simulating as many audition situations as possible (cold reading, interviews, tapings with an assistant, reading at the network level), we can examine how you now present yourself and consider new approaches.

Skills to overcome and succeed include:

Learning to breath more effectively to keep oneself centered, refocusing one’s attention on the moment –to- moment intentions instead of idealized results, choosing a very strong objective and opening action, setting realistic goals, and examining your inner dialogue that controls your attitude about auditioning (and often your behavior in the presence of the auditor).

Also, we can reframe our perspective from passive victim to active initiator, experimenting with various visualization, relaxation and mental rehearsal techniques (many gleaned from sports psychologists for peak performance. Caryn was first exposed to this as a 4 year member of the US Alpine Ski team).

We can evict the need for approval from the mysterious and nebulous “them” to the knowable “you”, demystify preparation, give ourselves permission to have fun and keep discovering, and by frequently practicing in these simulated situations.

My class addresses the trials of this most common phenomenon, performance anxiety. And the problems can be tackled and overcome so that you can play in the audition room and succeed! Can CSFA’s Audition Intensive help you?

Have a courageous day!

Caryn West is an acting teaching, director and an audition coach who auditions and acts. She has taught on both coasts and is the only teacher cited on both coasts by Backstage polls as one of the “BEST AUDITION COACHES”. She has run Caryn’s Space for Actors since 1999. Facebook @CarynWestSFA

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Posted in Actor Advice, Auditions
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