getting a foot in the door

It has been far too long since my last blog post. I'm disappointed in myself for not keeping up with this regimen, but the truth is, life moves faster than I can type. So here's the low down on what's been going on in the last month.

As soon as I returned to New York, most of my time has been spent in preparation for my final semester at AMDA and the start of my career as a professional actor. I got my headshots finalized and printed; edited draft after draft of my performance resume until I came up with a final product; scoured auditions postings for opportunities; and began adjusting to my new class schedule. As a fourth semester student at AMDA, I'm taking night classes from 5:30-11:30 pm. Classes consist of Musical Theatre Audition technique, an acting Scene Study class, Monologues, Film & TV Acting, Improvisation, Cold Reading technique, and dance - tap, jazz, ballet, theatre dance, and combinations. All of these classes lead up to Panel Night, which is a mock audition happening this coming Wednesday, where we will learn and perform a short dance combination, a full musical theatre song, a 16-bar cut of a musical theatre song, and up to two monologues for a panel of casting directors and agents, all of whom have the power of employing us as new actors. It's a big deal, to say the least. Much of my focus has been on preparing for this night, in addition to getting ready for my acting and dance finals, both of which take place this coming week as well. For the remainder of the semester, I'll be preparing of two showcases that are open to students, staff, and theatre professionals, thereby giving us even more opportunities to be seen and make connections. My Musical Showcase takes place at the end of August, and my Drama Showcase will be held the same weekend of my graduation, at the beginning of October. More details on those in the weeks to come.

Outside of class, I've picked up a part-time job as a school librarian. The pay isn't much, but it gives me a little bit of pocket money for the weekends, which is nice. Mostly I get to learn about musicals and plays and work with my friends. The last two semesters of not working have made me feel antsy, despite the copious amounts of classwork and homework I had been assigned during that time. I'm just a workaholic, I guess.

And to prove that point even further: when I'm not in class or working at the school library, I'm auditioning for theater jobs and submitting myself for film and television jobs. Now, for those of you who don't know how the audition process works, here's a quick run down:
  • There are two kinds of auditions: Union and Non-Union.
  • Union jobs are restricted only to actors who are part of a union. These unions - which cover all forms of performing jobs (theatre = AEA, film = SAG, TV = AFTRA, etc.) all have different membership requirements and all cost a lot of money to be a part of.
  • In regards to union theatre jobs, union members get priority for audition appointments. After them are actors who are union eligible, meaning they have met some, but not all, of the union membership requirements. After them are non-union actors, who must simply wait in line the day of the audition and hope that at the end of the day, when all those with appointments are seen, that the auditors will have the time, energy, and patience to see non-union actors. These lines can be tremendously long, and in order to have even the slightest fighting chance, you've got to be in line by about 6:00 am. That's nearly 12 hours of waiting, if you get lucky enough to be seen.
  • Non-union jobs have open calls, also known as cattle calls. You wait in line, sign up, and sing. If the audition attracts a large number of people, the staff may opt to type-out: everyone submits their headshot and resume, and based on that, the director and all the powers that be will determine whether or not they even want to see you. If they say yes, you stay and sing. If they say no, you go home.
  • If you're lucky enough to have an agent, they can book an appointment for you. Unfortunately for me, I don't have one of those. Yet.
Taking my class schedule into consideration, auditioning is quite a challenge. When classes get out at 11:30 pm, I usually get home around midnight, shower off the sweat accumulated from dance class and the summertime humidity, pack up my belongings for the next day, and am finally in bed by about 1:00 am. With throngs of actors heading off to audition each morning, I've got to be in line sometime between 5:30 and 7:00 am in order to have any chance of being seen at all the next day. And as a new actor, you better believe I want to get seen. At least to get my face out there. Now, factor in travel time and the time it takes me to get ready, I've got to be up around 4:00 am or so to start the day. That gives me three hours of sleep, friends. Three hours. Sounds crazy, but it's worth it to me. Since I usually get to auditions that early, I am seen early, so I have the chance to go home and nap before school starts in the evenings. Not so bad, I suppose.

Thus far, I've gone on three auditions. I auditioned for the national tour of Avenue Q on June 22, my first day of school. I actually got two call backs for the role of Christmas Eve, but I haven't heard from them since my last call back a few weeks ago. I auditioned for the international tour of Fame on July 1, and I got a call back for the role of Serena Katz. I was cut on the same day of my call back. And on July 17, I auditioned to be a performer for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. I was not offered a call back.

As far as auditions go, I have to say that I'm proud of myself. The audition process for Avenue Q surpassed any of my expectations. I heard that about 1,000 people auditioned for the show and only 35 got called back for all of the roles. When I auditioned for Fame, I was one of 9 women to be called back for Serena Katz out of about 300, and above that, I was the only ethnic actor called for the role. With Royal Caribbean, I got the opportunity to sing both my audition songs, which only happens if the auditors like what they hear in the first song and want to see what else you can do. So I'm doing pretty well as a new comer. I learned a lot about the audition process as well. Every audition proceeds differently depending on what the staff wants to see and needs to cast for their productions. There are so many variables that I can't control, so instead of worrying about what will happen, I know that all I can do is do my best, show off my best, and be proud of my work. There will certainly be far more rejections than acceptances, but I know when the time comes, it's because I turned out to be the one they really wanted. More importantly, I learned how I personally react and respond in an audition. This process has taught me how to adequately prepare myself for the day ahead, and every time I go, I get a little more confident in my skills and abilities. I'm fortunate to have had the opportunity to go through a call back so early in my career, and I can use that knowledge in the future. Of course, there is a lot more learning to be done, and I can't wait.

In the weeks to come, I'll be going to as many auditions as I can. I have a few lined up already: the national tour of Rent, Disney Cruise Line, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Holland America Cruise Line. And hopefully Panel Night will provide me with some career opportunities as well.

So there it is. I've got my foot in the door. And the rest of me is sure to follow.