If you missed Part 1, you can find it here!
Days before I flew to Chicago, I remember being filled with anxiety about traveling and auditioning for some of the nations top MFA in acting programs. Those programs were Brown, Yale, UCSD, Northwestern as well as the URTA’s (a platform to audition for multiple schools at one time, check it out at urta.com) My partner, friends and family did really well in calming me down and reminding me of how great I am (as a performer and a person). It feels good to have people in your corner when you are doing something so big and scary. My previous attempts at auditions for universities included traveling with my mother and cousins as a sort of posse to be there at the first sign of rejection. This time, it was just me, myself, and I. I felt alone and vulnerable as I took the redline to the PalmerHouse Hilton hotel early on a Monday morning. I was on my way to my first audition process: the URTA’s.
That feeling of loneliness quickly faded once I arrived at the 6th floor which was filled with auditionees and schools from around the nation and across the pond. Immediately after arriving I felt welcomed by a sea of actors who not only hoped to have great auditions themselves, but wanted the collective to succeed. It was the warmest audition environment I had encountered. It was as if we all felt connected by this whirlwind experience of grad school auditioning. I enjoyed seeing familiar faces from the Twin Cities and getting to know other people who happened to be near or around me. I think this is the first tip, be kind, It’s still an audition!
We’ve all heard the horror stories of audition waiting areas and horrible actors (and auditors) who make them unsafe and toxic. Don’t do that. Don’t be that person. Recruiters are roaming the halls and waiting areas and will notice you. Treat this process like you would for a professional company. Word of mouth is strong. And no one likes to work with an a** hole, professionally or for training purposes.
I enjoyed the moments that I spent getting to know the people near me. It seems that everyone wanted to know why we were auditioning. The answers were always different yet always the same. A stir of “I need more technical training”, “I need time to work on myself as an artist”, “I want to expand my community.” It was literally the same story with a different face, yet. each one was as fascinating as the next. These conversations grounded me and showed me how we were all here to do our best work and then move on with our lives. That will be the second tip I can give, GROUND YA SELF.
For some actors that included a private warm up in a corner, for others that meant arriving an hour early. For some, like me, it meant getting to know my environment. I walked the space and talked to people as a way to get connected and just be human. Afterall, that’s what I was going to do on the small stage surrounded by prospective programs: be human.
When the time came to be on the URTA stage, I recall feeling very assured of myself. I knew that these auditions did not mean anything other than I might go to grad school. I still have life planned if I don’t get in and that still makes me happy; it was a win win. I remember entering, performing and exiting the room as my whole self--it felt so good to own the space and stage that way, all while feeling grounded.
I carried this feeling with me at my audition for Brown University. It was even more empowering because Brown has such a lovely way of auditioning people--they are a top notch program and yet so kind. Some programs can be intimidating and seem unapproachable, but Brown continues to be the best Grad school auditions I’ve had in each round I’ve done. They let those of us auditioning know that our work is more important than a chance at grad school. They reaffirm that we, as artists, are needed NOW.
My next auditions were a week later for Yale, UCSD, Columbia (NYC) and Stella Adler (the latter two being spontaneous walk-ups) . Although I was riding on such a high the week prior, I couldn’t let nerves go as I waited for my Yale and UCSD auditions. I scheduled them on the same day which was a HUGE mistake. TIp number 3, Let your auditions breath!. It was not in my heart to audition for Yale, so I thought nothing of scheduling the audition the same day as another school. I wish I hadn’t done this; I let the name and prestige of the Yale School of Drama shorten my breath and tingle my nerves the entire day. The nerves from Yale took away my presence and groundedness for the other auditions and I feel I got in the way of myself. So I will say it again, Let your auditions breath!.
When my audition day was over I treated myself with a poke bowl and rode the metra to a comforting Chicago suburb (Granny’s house). I felt so relieved and full; I had just completed my grad school audition process, something I started months prior. All that was left to do was wait. Last Tip!! TREAT YO’SELF AND PLAN OTHER THINGS. It’s a big thing to choose education again. And the admission process is not easy. I think no matter the outcome of the audition days or the entire process, one should treat themselves with something that makes them happy and then go back to the business of your life.That way, rejection doesn’t hit so hard and acceptance is only a cherry on top of a magnificent process. If I don’t get to go to grad school, at least I’ve met wonderful artists on the road to try and get there. I recieved mini workshops on my monologues that will change the way I do them forever and I got to go to the Starbucks Reserve in Chicago twice! Like our dear friend Marion McClinton said, “Every audition is a win”--I feel like a winner!
NEWS: In total I auditioned for 6 programs and got initial callbacks to 5 of them, wait-listed for one program and asked to attend a final callback weekend for another. I am still not sure if I will officially attend a grad program until April 2020.