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The Importance of a Good Reader (And How to Find One)

When cranking out self tapes, it’s easy for the reader to become an afterthought. Especially in a time when audition turnarounds are getting ever quicker, oftentimes our readers are drawn from the pool of the most convenient: roommates, spouses, friends, etc. Sometimes that can be a great (and necessary) solution! But it’s important to remember that a skilled reader can make a big difference in the quality of an audition.

Why A Good Reader is Important

The main function of a reader in a self-tape is to showcase the person auditioning. You’re striving for someone who can support the flow of the audition without distracting from your performance. A good reader can go a long way toward helping an audition sound and look professional. Volume is important. A reader’s volume should not be so loud that it competes with the auditioner, but not so quiet that it is difficult to hear. A good reader has good timing, and is able to match and support your take on the pace of the scene. The other advantage of a good reader is they can help you come alive in front of the camera. Having someone who you can genuinely connect with will give the energy of the scene a boost.

Ideally, your reader will have experience in the industry. Good actors often make good readers. It helps to have someone with whom you’re personally comfortable as well. You want someone who will put you at ease when you’re filming, and who will respond quickly and well to any requests you might need to make for different takes.

Where To Find One

Actor friends are a great go to when looking for readers. Building a self-tape support network of people with whom you can habitually swap taping and reader services gives you a huge advantage. But if you can’t find another actor to read for you, don’t despair! Non-actor industry professionals are also a great resource. Your reader doesn’t even have to be connected to the industry to be good at it. Start taking note of what you rely on in a reader, and who best suits that.

If you’re new to town or new to the business, it’s likely you don’t have a large industry support system yet. Check out your local actor community on social media. Often there are already groups in place where local actors support one another. Don’t be afraid to put out a blast on social and see who responds.

Remote options, while trickier, are also doable. I’ve known actors to zoom cross country with their preferred readers in a pinch.

Remember it’s ok to be picky. This is your career, and you don’t need to use a reader who doesn’t work for you out of guilt or politeness. Readers are an essential component of a good audition, so when you have the opportunity to choose one, make the most of it!