In case you haven't heard the news, one of the biggest upsets in Wimbledon history happened today. Qualifier Dustin Brown (ranked outside the Top 100) beat two-time Wimbledon Champion, Former World No. 1, and all-time tennis great, Rafael Nadal, in the Second Round of the Championships. Dustin's game plan (as I saw it) was to play boldly on every single shot, on every single point. There was very little difference between his first and second serves; he was serving and volleying; he was chipping and charging; and he was playing the drop shot seemingly at every opportunity. Did he miss a fair number of these low-percentage plays? Sure. Or get burned for trying? Yep. But did he let that change his style of play? No. He was going to win, or lose, playing his uber-aggressive brand of tennis.
This is how I suggest actors should approach their auditions: with a "nothing-to-lose" mentality. Play to your strengths, be yourself, and be bold in the choices you make, because your talent will always match up to some casting breakdowns better than others. Dustin Brown made an interesting remark during his post-match interview. He said (though I'm sure I'm paraphrasing a bit here), "there are 300 or 400 other guys out there who are better at the baseline than [him]," so he wasn't going to get into the business of trying to outlast them in a long rally or let them get into a rhythm. That's why grass is such a good surface for him (and, incidentally, not as good for Rafa - the King of Clay). Likewise, I imagine that, for any audition I go on, there may be 300 or 400 other actors out there who "fit" the role better than I do (at least - at first glance - in the minds of the casting personnel) so I'm not going to beat them at their own game. I'm going to try to win with mine. The point is, your tennis game may or may not match up well against your opponent, and you may or may not be what the casting directors originally had in mind for a particular role, so you might as well take your chances and believe that you at your best will either be enough or it won't. Because, like competing in tennis, or auditioning for that commercial, your "game" will either match up well...or it won't. Either way, you'll always have fewer regrets being you, going for it, and asserting your own personality, than trying to win on someone else's terms. And some days you'll lose, but some days you'll win the biggest match of your life (and maybe, like Dustin, even pick up 20,000 new Twitter followers within three hours of that win).