When I went to college, I knew that when I graduated, I wanted to be a professional union actress. I was fortunate, too, landing my first professional theatre show during that time. The show was Children of Eden over at the now closed American Musical Theatre of San Jose. Not only did I get a chance to perform with THE Johnny Nagarelli from Grease 2, Adrian Zmed, but I also had the chance to perform (for a second time, mind you) with friend and now Tony winner, James Monroe Iglehart. It was a blast learning and performing alongside seasoned professionals. Through that show, I was able to earn my first set of Equity "weeks" as an Equity Membership Candidate. I eventually went on to do another show at AMTSJ the following season. I was on a roll! I couldn't have been prouder!
Well, flash forward several years later and after a couple of geographic moves, I FINALLY finished earning my Equity "weeks" to officially join the union that I was so eagerly awaiting to join. What a road it has been! I have steered on and off course more times than I could count, though it wasn't for a lack of trying - more than a lack of opportunity and a lack of self-confidence. In what I missed, I gained in life experience, self-respect and confidence and too many memories in local theatre to count. While at times I wish I had pushed through straight after college, I am glad that I was able to live a little offstage. Not being able to immediately get what I wanted taught me discipline, maturity and a LOT of patience. It's funny when I hear other professionals and celebrities say, "Don't have a fallback!" I totally started off with a fallback and through it realized that there was nothing more I wanted to do than perform.
All. The. Time.
Now, since I am entering into this as an adult and not some plucky kid fresh out of college, I feel like I need to play a LOT of catch up. I'm not that far off in age or looks, certainly, but experience at the regional level? I look like a California actor, which is all very well and good if I want to continue to stay local; but working your way up takes developing credits that impress, networking and working with people in the know, and auditioning for anything and everything that you can get your hands on.
It's a little hard on the West Coast. It's especially hard when a lot of the bigger houses still cast predominately with out-of-town actors.
But it's not impossible! Lately, I have been on more auditions than I have in the last several years. I am reminded of things that I learned in classes along the way:
1. Don't walk in nervous.
2. Don't spend too much time with the accompanist.
3. Bring yourself into the room, not who you think they want!
4. Have an organized audition book and be prepared with song suggestions if they ask, "What else do you have?"
I am also finding that the idea of an audition journal - something that many friends of mine in LA and NY put to good use - is sounding like a better idea after each audition I go on. There are some auditions where I walk out of the room confident and proud knowing that I did a great job. I know that I did my part and whatever the casting team requires is out of my control. I also have had some auditions where I know I could have done better, whether through better preparation, a better song choice, allowing for more time to get to the audition, how I handled myself in the room, you name it. Nothing was ever awful, but if I want to compete at this level, I need to bring my A game each and every time. I want to go in knowing that even if I may not be right for THIS show, if I impress in the room, they may remember me for something that I DO fit. That is what matters. Having this audition journal may eventually help me see my growth along the way. Side note: If any of you have been using an audition journal and have been finding it helpful, let me know your tips in the comments! xo
Anyway, here I am pushing along on this crazy theatrical journey. Since earning my card, there have already been moments to remember, moments of frustration and moments of tears. (Hey, I'm a perfectionistic Virgo. Of course there are tears! ;)) I hope that through this blog, you will see the REALITY of what this life is really like, the good, the bad and the frustrating. If I can help other struggling actors out there, even better! Let's band together!
Wish me luck on this journey ahead! I'm definitely excited AND scared for what is in store!