• Ray Watters

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

“Keep on keeping on.” We can thank Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for that phrase he uttered in a 1964 speech…a phrase many consider redundant and perhaps hackneyed several decades later, and yet still has a lot of meaning for the struggling actor. I have heard many actors talk about giving up because they feel their training and the ton of auditions have led to little or no recognition from Casting Directors, let alone bookings. I also know many actors who have persevered and have been successful.

My experience has shown that even at my advanced age, good things happen if you persevere. However, it wasn’t always that way. When I put away my microphone as a broadcaster seventeen years ago and moved to Texas, I found that I needed to be active to feel alive and useful. I thought about going back to my first love, which was acting, but thought that age 60 was way too old to start again. However, to quote another hackneyed phrase, I decided to throw caution to the wind. I continued training and joined others much younger than me in workshops and classes. There were times that nothing seemed to be going my way and I was ready to just give up on my love of acting, but I loved the craft so much that I decided to keep going.

The first few years brought little success, however, I continued training and managed to land an agent in Austin. During the past ten years, I have booked small parts in five network series, supporting roles in a couple of indies and a few short films, a co-star role in an NBC pilot, and, after moving to Florida two years ago, a major role in a Hallmark film. Sixteen years ago, I found it difficult to get an agent. Today I am represented by agents in Orlando, Austin, New York, Honolulu.

I am 77 years-old and have no thoughts of leaving the business that I love so much. I will continue to audition, and I will continue to be rejected until that next booking finally happens.

I will keep on keeping on.

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  • Ray Watters

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

In my last blog, I covered the importance of preparation and learning your lines. I was covering preparation both in auditions and on the set; however, I want to be more specific in this blog.

I want to address just the cold read audition.

For some actors, the words “cold read” conjures up nightmarish thoughts of dread. However, as strange as it may sound, I actually enjoy the experience. And…no, I am not a masochist. I actually find the audition cold read to be an opportunity to show off my acting chops.

I have experienced a number of cold reads and have found a process that works for me…a process that others have successfully used as well.

Always…always show at your audition at least 20 minutes in advance of your scheduled time, unless instructions state different (Remember…showing up at your scheduled time is considered late!). When you sign in, you will usually be given that part of the script (sides) to look at prior to your audition. Take that time to read over your sides and highlight your lines.

Determine who your character is and what is he trying to accomplish. What are his wants…his needs? What is blocking him from getting what he wants? Make a choice on how you will portray the character.

Do not try to memorize the sides in that short time. In memorizing your lines, you will be more concerned about remembering your lines rather than developing the character. However, do memorize the first and last line. That is important! When you deliver that first line, eye contact with the reader is essential, as is your reaction to the reader’s response. Looking at your script while the reader is responding may result in you not getting a callback. Having your head in the script the entire time is a guarantee of not getting a callback.

Before you give your first line, place your thumb on your second line. That way, after the reader has responded with their line, you can quickly glance at your line. With some practice, you will learn to quickly glance at your line and give that line while looking directly at the reader. I cannot stress enough the importance of having eye contact with the reader!

Earlier I mentioned making choices on how to portray the character. You may think this would be difficult because you haven’t had access to the script to learn more about the story and the character…and you would be right! This is where you have the opportunity to show off your Oscar winning talent!

Make a choice on how you think the character should be portrayed and go for it! If you give a generic performance because you are afraid you will play it wrong, you will probably not get the booking. Take a chance…take risks!

Possibly your choice on how the character is portrayed will be totally wrong. It may be opposite of who the character is supposed to be…and that’s OK! The Director may tell you to do it a different way. This is your opportunity to show your ability to follow directions and show the Director how professional you will be on set and be able to take direction.

Rather than dreading the cold read audition, consider it an opportunity to show your acting ability, which includes your ability to take direction.

Have fun!

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  • Ray Watters

I’ve heard all too often from fellow actors (and have experienced myself) that there are people in your life you have considered friends…until you became successful in your craft. These people changed from “friend” to the latest word du jour…“hater”…almost overnight. It happens. These people are what former HBO Casting Director, Amy Jo Berman (see link below) refers to as “Dream Stealers” or “Energy Vampires.” If this has happened to you, read on.

Many of us have worked hard through the years to train in our craft. We have worked free just to build our resume. We have spent considerable time and money in training. We understand rejection after having driven many miles to many auditions, only to hear nothing, except for that rare call back. In the beginning, our experience on a film set is one of the passing pedestrian on the street, or the diner in a restaurant. After some time, however, things start happening and we see some success and may eventually get that big break. While it may have been dumb luck for a very small number of actors, the majority of us realize the time and work it took to finally get those good roles. Most, but not all of your friends will applaud your success.

Unfortunately, there will still be the dream stealers…the energy vampires who are jealous of your success. There will be people who will try to put you down and make you feel “less than.” These are the people who feel bad about themselves and the only way they can build themselves up is to put you down. You also may experience those who were once friends and have stopped communicating with you. You may want to consider that it is time to just walk away from these people. For me, walking away from the haters was the best thing I could do.

For the people who are truly happy for your success, treat them like gold! I have many of those people in my life!

We know what it took to get where we are.

Check out the link below.


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