Apr 15

What Is a Callback After an Acting Audition? (Showbiz Term of the Day)

Acting Audition Callback  (picture from Dreamtime - do not copy)

Acting Audition Callback

There is a chance that your child will get “a callback” after an acting audition if that acting audition goes well and your child is right for the part. When your child gets a callback for an acting audition for the very first time, you may not know exactly what that means.

My daughter got a callback after her second acting audition, and after the initial excitement was over, I realized I really did not know what that meant or what to do. I had to call her agent back a couple of times and ask lots of questions.

Since I knew very little about showbiz when we first got started, whenever we did something new, I had lots of questions.  And I was embarrassed to have to ask so many questions.

On the other hand, I knew it was important to find out everything I could about her first acting audition callback to make sure we did what we needed to do.

So, in case you are wondering exactly, “What Is a Callback After an Acting Audition?”

A callback after an acting audition is an invitation to be seen again by the casting director for a particular project.

What Does It Mean When You Get a Callback?

It just means that the casting director and perhaps others involved in casting the roles in a project liked what they saw in your initial acting audition and are interested in seeing you again for that project. Obviously, this is a good thing, so you should celebrate getting a callback.

If you get a callback, you did something the casting director really liked and/or you have exactly the “right” look or personality for the role. Or perhaps you perfectly captured the essence of the character or brought something unique and interesting to your performance. In any case, it is exciting to be called back for another round of auditions.

When you don’t get a callback it does not mean that you did not do a good job in your acting audition. It may be that you were not right for the particular role being cast or just that some others were more right for that role.

Getting the News about the Callback

You typically will receive a call from your agency to tell you that you have a callback for a particular role and to give you the time and location and other details for the callback. If you don’t have an agent or if this is a callback for an audition that you obtained on your own, then you will typically receive a call directly from the casting director or another individual involved in the project.

 Don’t Change Anything Unless Instructed to Do So

Something to remember about a callback is that they probably liked the way you looked and your performance in your previous acting audition, so you should try to repeat your look and what you did as closely as possible. This means you should wear exactly the same clothing and even fix your hair the same way.  You want to give them what they got in the first audition.

Sometimes you will be given some additional instructions with the callback information. You might have additional or different sides for the callback or a specific change to your appearance or your performance that they want.  In that case, you want to follow whatever additional instructions you are given. For example, you might be told to be less angry or not to act like you are cold in a particular scene, or you might be told to put your hair in a ponytail or to not put your hair in a ponytail.  But don’t change anything unless you are instructed to do so.

How Soon Will You Hear About a Callback After an Acting Audition?

You may hear about a callback at the end of your audition, shortly after your audition, later the same day, the next day or a couple of days later, a week later, or even a month or more after your audition.  While there is no steadfast rule on this, you are generally notified of a callback within a few days for television show episodes, within a week or two for commercials, and for big roles in movies and television series, it tends to vary quite a lot, but it usually takes longer.

How Many People Get Callbacks?

Sometimes there will be only a handful of people who receive a callback, but sometimes there may be a rather large number of people called back for a particular role.  There may be five people or there may be twenty-five.  It all depends on the project and those doing the casting. For movies, more people are often auditioned and more people are often called back.

When Will the Callbacks Occur?

Sometimes a callback will occur the same day as the initial audition (most often when episodes of a television show are being cast). Sometimes you will need to return the next day or a couple of days after you are notified of the callback.

All the callbacks might be on one day, as is often the case for commercial callbacks or theatre callbacks or episodics, or the callbacks might be spread out over a period of time, as is often the case for casting for a lead role in a feature film or television show.

You may even be called back multiple times for a single role, as is often the case for bigger roles in feature films and television shows and often for theatre as well.

Who Will Be in the Callback Audition?

When you go to the callback, there will often be more people present than were at your initial audition. It is common for directors and producers and other people involved in a project to be at a callback.  So don’t be surprised when you walk into the room and see four or five or more people there to observe your audition and you.

So while a callback is a great thing, casting is often far from over when you get a callback. But it is the second step on the way to a booking!

For more information on this and many other topics related to show business, subscribe to Your Young Actor’s Newsletter for a free mini-course on getting started in showbiz as well as a newsletter with valuable tips and resources for every young actor and their parents.

To your success,

Debbie Sikkema

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  1. J's mom

    Great article. My son has been on numerous call-backs but never actually landed a part. It’s already getting very tiring and it’s only been our first 6 months doing this.

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  3. Jamie@Låna pengar

    Very nice and detailed explanation of this term. Kudos to you! 🙂 I even laughed at the thought of you (or the actor) having to come back wearing the exact same clothes.
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    Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

  5. Scott@Seo Southampton

    Make sure you understand all of the details about the callback before hanging up the phone. Know where the callbacks are being held, on what date and at what time. The director should tell you which role you have been called back for, and what you will be expected to sing. You should also find out if any dancing will be required at the callback audition.

  6. Debbie Sikkema

    Hi Scott,
    Yes, it is certainly best to get the details of the callback when you get to call to notify you about it! And where and when are the most important pieces of information. Sounds like you might be talking about theatre auditions, and I am mostly talking about tv, film, and commercial auditions. Seldom will the director be the one calling for these — typically it is your agent or manager who will call you unless it is for a self-submission, and then it could be the director. Also, for most tv and film auditions, there won’t be dancing — though if it is for a musical theatre audition, that will certainly be something you need to know. Thanks for commenting! –Debbie

  7. Miguel@KVM Extender

    Hello ,I am a 27 year old mom with a child that kills for acting .She is only 7yrs and she takes the stage when she act.I spent 10,000 @ a acting place that has not did anything for my child.Can you e-mail me and let me know the steps I need to take for my daughter.I know you said the parents is the one that wants this ,but my daughter is different she loves to model and act. I don’t push her she has a goal yea a goal @ the age of 7 and I’m just trying to make that goal come true.This is the second company that has took our money and has not did anything for us.

  8. Debbie Sikkema

    Hi Miguel,
    Reading this is upsetting. Laws have been put into effect in the state of California to protect people from scams where people pay large sums of money and are promised things that can’t be or aren’t delivered. $10,000 sounds like too much! Pursuing an acting career is not cheap in any case as you do pay for acting and other classes and lessons and headshots and possibly some good books or other fairly inexpensive products. Please sign up for my Young Actors Newsletter using just your name and email address and you will get my mini-course on getting started in acting (and it is free). Never pay anyone for your child to audition or to represent your child. Are you in the US? If so, what city/state? Put your child into community theatre and other programs such as church programs where she can perform. If you are near a University, see if they have a film department and talk to them to see if they need young actors for films. I’ll be glad to answer questions for you and help you the best I can. –Debbie

  9. Elie

    Hey Debbie,

    This was a great article; certainly cleared up all my questions about callbacks.

    I was sad when I read this, though, “So while a callback is a great thing, casting is often far from over when you get a callback. But it is the second step on the way to a booking!”

    ha, go figure.

    I was looking around for some other resources about acting and modeling, and came across a really neat article pertaining to auditions. Thought it might be a neat little resource. http://maxagencynews.blogspot.com/2010/04/audition-preparation-guide-thedos-list.html

    Thanks again for the detailed read, I’m signing up for the newsletter.


  10. Tom@Acad training

    One of the most embarrassing call-back experience I had was for a summer stock theater troupe. After spending hours at the audition in the morning, I waited all afternoon for the call that never came. Eventually, in great discouragement I dressed for a luau party that evening. Imagine my surprise when an hour into the party, my roommate runs up and shouts, “You got the call. They want you there immediately!”

    I looked down at my silly purple Hawaian outfit. “Dressed like this?” She said, “Run! They’re waiting for you. I told them you were all decked out in luau clothes and they don’t care. Go!”

    Needless to say, I did. I sure felt stupid walking into the callbacks looking like a walking pineapple. Two hours into it, I still felt stupid. But I got the part. And isn’t that what counts?

  11. Debbie Sikkema

    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for the very fun story! Yes the unpredictability can result in some strange things. How nice that you booked that job.

  12. Debbie Sikkema

    Hi Elie,
    Thanks for you comments! Yes, I wish I could say it was different, but one thing for sure about showbiz is that you get jerked around A LOT — often going from very high highs and just as quickly to low lows. A callback can lead directly to a booking, but honestly you never know what path things will take. My daughter got a callback and was thrilled when she then booked a great guest star role on Boston Legal, but they had been looking for 12 year old twins, and just one or two days before filming, we were notified that they had found 12-year-old twins. My daughter and the other girl who was to play her twin were then no longer needed. It was a big part, and she would even have been singing on the show, and it was depressing for my daughter and for me. Each time you get a callback it is encouraging, but then if you don’t book it or you book it and then it gets canceled or changed, it is always upsetting. Such is the life of an actor… –Debbie

  13. Ayanda

    I auditioned for a Lead role in a film a week ago. The director seemed to be very please with my improv audition, and when I left he shook my hand and said, “We will be calling you” with a smile. But, I haven’t received a call yet. I keep thinking to myself, maybe he thought that he would call me until someone auditioned after me that maybe was better. I am going crazy here. Don’t they normally call within a week? What do you think?

  14. Debbie Sikkema

    Hi Ayanda,
    Sounds like you did a great job and the director really liked what you did. Try not to dwell on it. One of the things about acting is the unpredictability of it all. The best thing to do is just to know that you did a great job and to move on to other things. Sometimes things just take an unexpected turn. It may be that something changed and they decided to go older/younger/bigger/smaller/darker/lighter (you get the picture) or to cancel or postpone the project. Maybe they wanted a different hair color, or maybe some other person is now calling the shots. Honestly, it is pretty much impossible to know or to figure out! Just move on, and then if you get a call, it will be a pleasant surprise. Once my daughter did not get her callback for for several months, and it was a real surprise. Turns out she booked the job, too. You just never know, and you’ll drive yourself crazy if you worry about it. Congrats on the good audition! There will be many more, but just stay positive and concentrate, and don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a callback. Most of acting is rejection, so you really have to know that just getting called in to audition is a big win. Take care, and good luck! –Debbie

  15. Robert@New Forest Cottages

    I would love to share a personal experience with you of my daughter. My daughter (11) auditioned in Orando on Sat, we stayed at the hotel, and even though we got up an checked every hour for when the line started, at 5:30 am we discovered the line was in the back of the hotel and by that time were about 100th in line. We had to wake the kids (both auditioned) and rush them downstairs to get their bracelets, they were still in their jammies, didn’t even get to brush their hair or anything, my daughter didn’t bring her shoes so I gave her mine (it was 47 degrees outside). After they got their bracelets we were given permission to take them back upstairs to change etc. the bracelets are numbered and that is your place in line. So just my luck they probably wont make the cut, but we’ll all be on TV in all our glory of bedhead and PJ’s and naked cold feet. So my suggestion is that if you have a 9am audition slot, line up around 5 am, and look on all sides of the hotel, not just the front and inside. 🙂

  16. Georg Smith@summertime movie

    For those of you who have done numerous callbacks, than this is just a regular part of your acting career, however, for those of you who have never been to a callback, it can become a very intimidating experience – although, it’s only as scary as you make it out to be.

  17. Andrea McCarthy


    My 9 year old son just got his first callback on a national commercial. We are very excited as he has been represented for 5 years now and has never landed a commercial yet. The callback is being done by videoconference. Should I be nervous about that, it sounds intimidating? Thanks!

  18. ALY

    This mite not be the same, but at school I auditioned for Frankenstein and I have Callbacks tomorroww! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  19. Debbie Sikkema

    Hi Aly,
    Sure it is the same! Congratulations to you. You gotta start somewhere, and school is a great place to start. Good luck, and have fun!

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    I left he shook my hand and said, “We will be calling you” with a smile. But, I haven’t received a call yet. I keep thinking to myself, maybe he thought that he would call me until someone auditioned after me that maybe was better.

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    I left he shook my hand and mentioned, “We is going to be calling you” having a smile. But, I haven’t obtained a call nevertheless. I keep considering to myself, possibly he believed that he would call me until eventually an individual auditioned following me that perhaps was improved.

  22. Becky

    My 11year old daughter has a callback audition tommorow. Its for Japan Telecommunications. At first I thought that she already got the part but after reading your article which was by the way great, I realized its just another audition. We are very proud of her especially since its only her second audition but what are the chances of her not getting picked. Usually about how many people are called back whene there are only four girls needed?

  23. Debbie Sikkema

    Hi Becky,
    Thanks for the compliment on my article! I’m glad it was helpful to you. A callback is a great thing. It truly means your child is castable — the casting director obviously felt that she was right for the part and did a good job and that is why she got called back. Just encourage your daughter to go to the callback and do what she did the first time and most of all to have fun. It is hard (impossible) to predict what your daughter’s chances are. As I mentioned in my article, there could be just a handful of kids called back for a role (maybe as few as 3 or 4), but typically there are more than that–maybe 10 or even more. So any one of the kids called back could get the part just as your daughter could. Just take her to the callback and remind her how fabulous it is to get a callback. Don’t put any pressure on her. Just let her do her stuff and then move on and try not to dwell on it. Then, if she does book the part, when you get the call, it will be a very pleasant surprise. I always like to write down when the job is supposed to work, and when that date has passed (unless the commercial shoot date got moved), I know that the job was not booked. But really it is best just to try not to keep thinking about it but just to go about your life. It is more common NOT to book a job than to book it. Good luck, and let me know how the callback goes!
    Best regards,
    Debbie Sikkema

  24. H Phipps

    This is really helpful! I’m writing a book about a normal girl who gets pulled into being a movie star and all her problems and obstacles along the road to stardom. Thanks!!! 🙂

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    OMG sorry I like faces 🙂 Oh um thanks my friend posted on faceboook that she got a callback and I’m so proud! :mrgreen:

  29. Kelly

    Hi Debbie. Just came across your article, absolutely loved it! We hired an agent for our 8 year old daughter about 6 months ago and she has been to several auditions, with not much luck. She was at an audition about two weeks ago, we FINALLY got a callback. She had a fantastic time. I received an email from her agent yesterday that they had called back and were presenting her to the company for the role. My agent said she hasn’t gotten the role yet but is very close.

    So by the casting director presenting her to the next step, what exactly does this mean? Could you possibly send your reply to my personal email as well.

    Very much appreciated and again, love what you do for all of us parents who struggle with this industry!


  30. Amanda

    “When you don’t get a callback it does not mean that you did not do a good job in your acting audition. It may be that you were not right for the particular role being cast or just that some others were more right for that role.”

    Actually it can mean many things. While callbacks are good, sometimes actors get a part without a callback. That just means that your initial audition was adequately informative and there was no need to call them back. Some of my friends that act have gotten leads without getting a callback.

  31. Dawn

    Hi this my second time coming across your website. It is very informative. I have 2 sons who was signed to an agency in January 2015. My younger son is doing really good. We just had 2 callbacks this week. One requires travel for 2 weeks to 3 different states. His callback for that one was Thursday and the travel date is Tuesday. Can they actually call us on Monday the day before and tell us we will be flying out the next day? It is Saturday and after talking to my agent on Friday they haven’t made a decision. What is your take on this? My son was phenomenal. The producer had him in there longer than anyone giving him the most difficult part. He walked him out laughing with him saying that he smashed it. I am truly learning this buisness a little at a time.

  32. Keisha

    Good info. My daughter got a callback three months ago and the agent just emails me like every two weeks to say she will be in contact soon.
    How long does it take to go in for a second audition?

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  1. “Talented, Beautiful, Up-and-Coming Singer Brutally Smear-Campaigned and Sued by Cowardly Narcissist” | It's not my fault.

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