How To Slate in an Audition

Young woman reading script for audition, camera in foreground
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When you go to an audition, knowing your lines and being in character are not the only things that you need to be prepared for. Knowing how to “slate” properly can be a deciding factor in whether or not you’re going to receive a call-back or book a job! Here are some tips on how to conduct a great "slate."

What is a Slate? And Why is it So Important?

A "slate" is essentially an introduction when you audition for a project.

Typically, when you attend an audition - theatrical or commercial - you will be asked to slate your name for the camera before you go into the "scene" for which you have prepared. That’s pretty simple, yes?

In theory, the actor slate should be very simple. Yet what many actors don't fully understand is that your slate is your first (and sometimes only) impression that you can offer to a casting director (and possibly director and anyone else in the audition room). Your slate is almost a mini-audition within itself. What that means is - if your slate isn't professional, conducted the proper way, or if it isn’t engaging - the casting director may choose to not even watch your actual audition. This is especially true in commercial castings when the casting process can move at lightning speed.

How to Slate Properly

Finding success as an actor is due in large part to being you and being natural.

When you slate for the camera, think of it as though you are introducing yourself to a specific person. Get as specific as you can when finding a person to “introduce” yourself to. In one of my classes that is a part of Los Angeles acting coach Carolyne Barry's acting program, "Carolyne Barry Creative," the teacher recommended to the students that we slate as though we were introducing ourselves to the president of the advertising agency that was looking for actors for a particular commercial, for example.

That takes the blandness out of simply saying your name to a camera and replaces it with the natural cadence that you would have while conversing with a person.

Commercial and Theatrical Slates

You will slate for both commercial and theatrical auditions; however, the slate process is slightly different. For commercials typically you will introduce yourself in the following manner, again as though you’re introducing yourself to someone for the first time: "Hi, my name is Jesse Daley." Then you will be asked to give your "profiles."

When the session director asks to “see your profiles,” you turn to the right, then back towards the front, and then to the left, so that the camera can see your whole face. Rarely, if ever, should you turn your back to the camera unless you're asked to do so! It will look unprofessional.

On certain occasions, you may be asked to show the front and back of your hands. Should this occasion arise, simply raise your hands up in front of your chest, as though you were about to give the camera a “double high-five,” for lack of a better description. Then, turn your hands around so that the camera can see the other sides of your hands.

Theatrical slating is a bit different, as actors typically do not introduce themselves by saying "Hello” to the camera.

Theatrical audition slates involve stating your name and subsequently the character for which you are auditioning. For example, I may go a theatrical audition, turn to the camera, and say, “Jesse Daley, reading for the role of (name of role).”

The Bottom Line

The key to slating is to be natural. Your introduction should not be over the top, and it should certainly not be boring. Just as is true when you first meet a person, you want to give a good first impression that shows confidence and ease. You want the person watching your slate to think, “That actor is professional and looks friendly.”

For tips on how to properly slate (as well as learning how to audition well), finding a reputable on-camera class is critical. Two great classes to look into are Carolyne Barry Creative (mentioned above) and On Camera Classes with Christinna Chauncey.