Boasting graduates including Dame Helen Mirren, James Bond star Daniel Craig and the Eleventh Doctor Who Matt Smith, the National Youth Theatre has been a springboard for many of our favourite actors.

As nationwide auditions begin for new members aged 14 to 25, a host of the company's graduates offer their tips for auditionees.

Visit www.nyt.org.uk for more information.


Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Helen Mirren: "Use your wonderful youth and who you are. A lot of the time you can look at other actors and go 'they're so brilliant at doing that, why can't I do that?' But you are a complete individual and there's no-one else on the planet like you. You by nature of being you will make it your own, so just believe in that and let that happen."

Orlando Bloom: "As an actor, you can't think about the end result or the fame; you just have to focus on the day you're in. You have no control over the finished product, what people will think of it, so all you have is the experience of making it, and you have to stay focused on that."

Daisy Lewis: "You only lose if you don't try. You need to actively put up a really good fight against the voice of doubt in your head that says 'I'm too northern/southern/tall/short'. Switch that voice off and just give it a go. The key to performing a speech is that it should speak to you. Don't try to put on an accent, don't try and do any clever stuff: what they essentially want is you. Don't think you can't do it and don't think that everyone else who auditions isn't as terrified as you are, because everyone is."

Joan Iyiola: "Never be afraid to ask for help. The truth is we all need a team. Run your speech with a friend, tell them why you love the play you've chosen, and share your thoughts on acting. Build and understand your creativity with the people that you trust."

Prasanna Puwanarajah
Prasanna Puwanarajah
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Prasanna Puwanarajah: "Treat your audition like a rehearsal – you're going in to do your work, collaborate and make your offer, rather than like you're going in to be judged."

Kwami Odoom: "Our goals and dreams can be so much closer than we think. That's why it's always worth giving something a shot even if you aren't confident of success, you just never know!"

Sarah Solemani: "Make sure you perform your speech in front of someone you know before the audition. It's so embarrassing doing it in front of people you know, but do it because it'll never be as embarrassing as the first time and you'll discover things in the writing you can't see by just reading it. It'll also give you a chance to conquer your nerves. The more prepared you are the more psychologically you are in control of your nerves and they're good nerves to use."

Matt Lucas
Matt Lucas
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Matt Lucas: "It actually doesn't matter too much if you forget a line. If you do, just start again. It's far more important that you perform well."

Reece Ritchie: "Breathe. If there's one thing I've learnt auditioning in high-pressure situations it's that you start to breathe shallower and faster. The adrenaline pumps and lines you know can vanish. In through the nose out through the mouth gives the brain the oxygen it needs and will settle you. Sounds daft but trust me, it works."

NYT chief executive and artistic director Paul Roseby: "Learn out loud. Don't learn it in your head. Learn your speech so well that you can say it in your sleep."