You did it! You've gotten the audition. Now what?
Read it. Then Read it Again
So often all you are given for an audition is sides. Sides are the pages of the script that contain dialogue for the character you're auditioning for. Sometimes part of being an actor means you get to read a whole episode or the whole movie, but often it's just a few pages with little context. So how do you prepare a character for a story you know nothing about? Read the sides and then read them again. Make sure if there are any words you don't understand, you look them up. I swear being an actor will make you an armchair expert! Once you know what the script says, it's time to do some research.
Google That Sh!t
Generally speaking using actual Google can be dangerous. They will sell your search history for profit and then allow companies to use that information to target you specifically with their products. That one time you were talking about ice cream with your friend and then all the adds you saw for the next week were for ice cream? That's not in your head. They are also listening. For what it's worth you can turn off targeted marketing and an app's access to your camera and microphone. There are also many Google alternatives but I digress.
Go to your search engine of choice and start looking people up. IMDbPro (owned by Amazon) is a good resource but that costs $150 a year. There is a discount if you are in SAG-AFTRA. There is also a free version that admittedly has limited information. The paid version is worth getting if you find yourself auditioning at least 8-10 times a month. It's also worth it if you want to know all the things about film and tv productions. You'll be able to look up projects, actors, directors, producers, writers, and casting directors.
You've read the sides so you likely know what character you’re talking to, go look up the actor cast in that role. You may not approach an argument in a pub the same if you're talking to a 70 year old retiree vs a 21 year old biker. That kind of context is useful. In fact, look up their character as well. If the show is in it's 4th season, was there a sense of where this character is going from season 3? The answer to that may help you understand why your character is showing up in the first place. Look at who is directing and have seen anything they've done before? Same for the producers. It's likely you're familiar with the studio producing it, if not, look them up too. This is a huge help for understanding the tone of a project, especially if it’s a movie or the first season of the show. That same argument in the pub with the 70 year old will be very different if the project is a holiday Lifetime movie directed by Dolly Parton vs a space odyssey directed by Ava DuVernay.
Gather as much information about the project itself as you can. If it i possible, watch an episode of the show. A few clips may even be enough. Once you feel truly informed then it's time to work on your character.
*If you are at the VERY beginning of your acting journey, it's likely that you'll be self taping your auditions. That will require you to have a few items at home to make taping the auditions easier. I personally use this cell phone stand. I tape my auditions on an iPhone. The lighting should be good to make sure the people making decisions can see your face and eyes clearly. I use this ring light and these studio lights. Tape in front of a blank wall and make sure you can be heard clearly. Break a leg!