Sunday, January 22, 2012

120. NYU Grad Acting Audition 2012

Here's an overview of my day, but not just ANY day...My NYU audition day!!!

6am Woke up to my alarm (pressed snooze 3 times).

6:20am Showered, dressed, made myself breakfast (most important meal of the day: scrambled egg whites, black beans & tablespoon of cream cheese), packed myself a bag of snacks for the audition (lots of waiting…don't like to get low blood-sugar), grabbed a change of clothes for yoga (later this afternoon) and my ticket for On A Clear Day (seeing my friend Alysha perform on Broadway tonight).

7:45am Took the N train down to the 8th St/NYU stop. Listened to Lovely by Sara Haze on the way.

8:30am Arrived at 721 Broadway, NYU Tisch School of the Arts and checked-in on the 5th floor. Found a quiet spot next to a file cabinet in the waiting room. I feel very comfortable with file cabinets…so naturally, this was a good spot for me. ;-p

9:30am They called my name and I went into the “warm-up” room, which had this really annoying gigantic mirror. I say annoying…because I really wasn’t interested in self-consciously staring at myself in my final moments before heading in to audition...Distracting...Unnecessary. So I turned away from the mirror, took several deep breaths...did a little “mountain pose” and some “half-lifts” and I was about to go into some “downward-facing-dog” and I heard a knock-knock-knock on the door… “You ready?”

Heart stopped for a second and then began to beat again.

9:35am Walked "calmly" into the audition room… Behind the table: Ben (an alumni) and Scott (faculty). Both incredibly welcoming and kind…I said, “So which one of you is Ben and which one is Scott?” They laughed and introduced themselves.

Then Scott said, “I didn’t know they were telling you our names out there.”

“Oh, they didn’t.” I said, “I asked what your names were. I figure it’s only fair, I mean, you know who I am.”

I smiled warmly.

They smiled warmly… “So which monologues would you like to do today?”

I told them my two choices, set aside my water bottle and my glasses, grabbed a chair, brought it to the center of the room and started my contemporary monologue.

Felt good.

Then I did my classical monologue.

Felt good.

Scott and Ben were very attentive, taking notes and quietly listening. Scott only sipped his coffee once!

Then when I was finished…Scott asked, “Why are you interested in attending grad school?”

That is the question that must be asked, naturally.

This was serious business! Sooooo I grabbed my glasses (which would help me see them better) and then went into a passionate little five minute speech about being in an environment where I will be encouraged to stretch myself creatively, wanting to establish a strong  foundation for myself as an artist before I move along to the next step of my career path, and feeling such a strong connection to the NYU community and hoping to be a part of that. There was probably some other stuff I said too, but I can’t quite remember it all. The brain doesn’t always retain as well when the adrenaline’s pumping.

(You guys know all about it anyway, since you read the blog.)

It was exciting to get to share my thoughts with them. Oh! Also…I did mention to them that this was the 3rd time I’d auditioned for NYU. They didn’t know that. Apparently they didn’t have my “file” in front of them or anything, which is fine…if they had, it would have been as thick as a dictionary and they may not have been able to see over it. ;)

Then Scott sort-of had to interrupt me to ask another question. I smiled and laughed and said, “Oh, yes, thank you…please feel free to cut me off at any point. I could talk your ears off about all this stuff for hours. Seriously.”  I thought about mentioning the blog at that point…but thought better of it. I think I already sounded obsessed enough with NYU…Didn’t want to scare the guy.

He asked a GREAT question next…Really awesome question…I really wish that I could have been a fly on the wall in the room of other people’s auditions…to hear their answers to this question too.

NOTE TO SELF: If I am ever an alumni, sitting behind the audition table and interviewing potential applicants…I will ask this question also.

“What is your greatest fear about the program at NYU?”

In my head, I’m thinking: Fear? FEAR? You are asking me about FEAR, sir? Oooooooooh, let’s talk about this. Let’s talk about this alllllllll daaaaaaay looooooong.

I said, “Actually, this year has been alllll about overcoming fear, for me. Or, I guess, being okay with being  afraid, but just f%^king doing it anyway.” (Yes, I used an expletive in my interview. It’s true…They didn’t seem to mind.)

“Honestly? My main fear…is not being accepted to NYU…again…for the third time. But my fear of the program itself? Hmmmm.... Oh, I know…Okay, so my first year auditioning, I think I had this idea in my head that NYU was going to be, like…A GOLDEN TICKET… Such that if I could only get into NYU that it would “save me” and somehow I’d be automatically successful or something like that. But now, after going to the callback weekend my first year and speaking with alumni and getting more familiar with the school and what the graduates go through, I know that NYU is not going to be my “prince charming.” So I guess, my greatest fear of the program is that I’d go into it with the expectation that NYU was going to be my career savior or something. But I know now that that’s not the truth. I have to be my own “prince charming.””

“You’re absolutely right.” Scott chuckled to himself. “We should all be our own “prince charming.”” Ben laughed and nodded in agreement.

At this point, it was clear that the interview was over. They thanked me for auditioning and said good-bye.

I remembered to grab my water bottle (score!) and said, as I headed out the door, “Thanks for letting me talk, guys. That was really nice.”

9:45am Back in the waiting room…Waiting for the names to be called for “round two”…The callback round.

10:25am Hannah (Assistant to the Chair) is such a sweetheart. She got everyone’s attention and kindly said she’d be calling the names of those who’d been selected to stay and see Mark Wing-Davy and Janet Zarish. She made it very clear in her announcement that you would still be “in-the-running” if you weren’t asked to stay for the callback today. But I doubt that anyone in the room really believed her. EVERYBODY’s body language was screaming… “Call my name!!!”…No matter how hard they were trying to be chill about it. I looked around the room as everyone was listening intently. I saw a lot of thoughts written on people’s faces… Mostly hopeful, or trying to look cool, and a couple seemed absolutely terrified.

After all the names had been called… there was a stillness in the room, a hush…as the reality sunk-in for each individual. Of course, to look around the room…all you saw were blank faces…but I wasn’t fooled. I could hear silent hearts breaking…and the contained joy of elated hope in others. You didn’t want to look too happy. It might make the other people feel bad. You didn’t want to look too sad. It might make the other people feel bad. Oh… how we all hide our emotions…to protect ourselves…to protect others. It’s fascinating.

So with a stilted, detached coolness…the slow movement began…packing up of bags and picking up of coats…either to head out the door…or to move to the next waiting room where the “called-back” would get to sweat and wallow in hopeful “what-ifs” until they too would be released into the unknown, just like the rest.

My name was called. So I grabbed my stuff and headed to the second waiting area.

11:00am Waiting. Eating my snacks. Getting to know my fellow auditioners…James (from Buffalo) will also be auditioning for Juilliard, Yale, ACT and USD this year…and Anna (originally from Virginia, but lives in NY now) is auditioning for NYU the first time this year and only NYU. Two wonderful human beings, both very kind and supportive and open, I wish them the best of luck with their grad school auditions!!!

11:20am More waiting. More eating my snacks. Julian (a current third-year grad student) was helping to run the callback. Got to have a nice conversation with him. He’s originally from Tokyo! Talk about being far from home! Told him a little about my time in Shanghai. Asked him if he was hoping to stay in NY after graduation or maybe try out LA? He said he was open to both…and it’d all depend on what happened at showcase. Exciting, right? (Side note: I got to see him in Measure For Measure last October, at NYU, and he was definitely a stand-out. There’s something very sort-of Johnny Depp about him. His energy is very sexy and dangerous on stage. And who wouldn’t want to watch that? He’s going to have a veeeeery successful career, I think.  He’s going to be acting in NYU’s upcoming production of The Wild Duck in early Feb. Check it out if you want to get to see Julian and have one of those “I-got-to-see-him-in-that-student-production-at-NYU-before-he-was-a-super-star” kind of experiences.)

11:45pm My turn to audition for Mark Wing-Davy and Janet Zarish!!! Soooooo exciting! Took a few deep breaths before I walked into the room…If I can just remember to breathe…then I know I’ll be fine. Seriously. Breathe. Don’t forget to do that. It’s essential…

Whew…this is the part where I started to unravel last year…so if I can just not be intimidated and be vulnerable and open and honest…then THAT’s my measure of success this year.

Walked in the room and greeted them both with a smile. They both seemed to remember me this year. Janet is always very warm with me. But Mark is soooo hard for me to read!!! I couldn’t tell if he actually remembered me or if he was just jumping on the bandwagon because Janet was treating me with such familiarity…Anyway, whatever…I’m grateful for it, either way! I’ll take friendliness where ever I can get it.

Mark picked my non-Shakespeare classical (Of course! He allllllways picks that one as my first piece.) Since I had just done this one for Ben and Scott, I should have been all warmed up with it. But, even so, getting through the first couple of lines was tough…Staying focused on the piece and NOT thinking “AHHHH! I AM AUDITIONING FOR MARK WING-DAVY AND JANET ZARISH. AHHHHH! THIS IS IT. THIS IS THE MOMENT. WAIT! I AM TOTALLY STANDING OUTSIDE OF MYSELF AND WATCHING ALL THIS HAPPEN…GET BACK IN THE MONOLOGUE, WILCOX!!! STAY FOCUSED! THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE SAYING…NOT THIS CRAZY, WEIRD, AWKWARD SITUATION OF AUDITIONING. LET THAT GO. PUT THE GIVEN CIRCUMSTANCES IN YOUR STOMACH AND SAY THESE WORDS AS IF THIS MONOLOGUE IS REALLY HAPPENING TO YOU RIGHT NOW.”

After I got my focus back…it felt like I had blinked my eyes and it was over. Somehow I got through to the end.

Was I totally “in-the-moment” the whole time? NO.

Do I think it was an accurate representation of where I am in my work right now? YES. Definitely.

So I do feel that the monologue was a success. I’m not going for a PERFECT performance. I am going for an honest snapshot of my current abilities, warts and all. I’m auditioning for SCHOOL, after all.

And hopefully, they’ll see some potential in me and my flaws and think… “Gee, if only we could have three years to help this girl work on improving her skills, we might be able to help her become a super awesome acting savant…Then she’d be freakin’ fierce! And we’d be super proud to have her as an alum.” THAT’s what I’m hoping for.

Then came a great moment in the audition that potentially could have been a disaster if I wasn’t prepared for it…Mark and Janet asked me about the origin of the classical piece. AND THANK GOD I ACTUALLY KNEW SOMETHING ABOUT IT! This is where doing your research reeeeeeeally comes in handy. I was able to give a little background about the author and why I chose the piece. Whew!!! Puttin’ my history degree to good use!

That. Felt. Good.

Then Mark asked me for a second piece…a contemporary monologue. This was NOT the one I had done for Ben and Scott earlier. Soooo there was no warm-up…I hadn’t spoken these words at all today…which was actually a good thing, I think. I was able to be really fresh with it…and allow the moments in the monologue to really surprise me. This is a piece I’ve been doing for yeeeeears. So it was really great to be able to share it with them and feel 100% confident that I would NOT forget the words.

My biggest obstacle with this piece, is that it’s got a dialect written into it…and I’m suuuure my dialect is NOT accurate, by any means. But, again, I’m not going for perfection…just honesty. So if my dialect is not good…that’s fine…I will do my best to be consistent with it (at least) and remain emotionally connected to the character’s circumstances (at best). But I will NOT subconsciously apologize for not being able to do a good dialect…and therefore shrink and sabotage my ability to communicate this story! I will be BOLDLY myself as this character!!! And if that’s BOLDLY bad…then, so be it.

Though I know I am not a very accurate judge of my own work, I feel like this monologue went well. It certainly did not feel bad. Mark and Janet seemed to still be “with me” at my monologue’s conclusion.

Then Janet asked me what I’ve been up to this year.

Wow! What an opportunity!!! An open-ended question!!! I could take this one annnnnywhere I wanted to go! She’s letting ME drive this interview now. AWESOME!

How to tell my story? Where to begin? Soooo many directions I could go…Infinite possibilities.

So I chose to talk about my job. I told them that after I came to the callback weekend my first year auditioning that I was highly influenced by all of the discussions of the importance of getting your financial “ducks in a row” and how that was a very important consideration in applying to grad school, since NYU is a HUGE financial investment. So I decided to focus on getting a solid/steady job to be able to pay off all my consumer debt…while preparing to audition for grad school for the 2nd…and then the 3rd time… And told them about how my success at my job has been a financial blessing, but has also given me clarity that I do NOT want to be an executive assistant for the rest of my life. That I want to be an ACTOR. Then I mentioned the blog (had to throw that in there since it’s been such a HUGE part of my life)…and ended with an open-armed declaration that “If I just keep on putting it out there to the Universe, that this is what I reeeeealllly want, it’s gonna happen someday. I have to believe that.”

HA! I cannot believe I really said that to Mark and Janet. LOL!!!....But, it’s TRUE.”

Then, they asked me if I’d like to sing a short, little something.

I smiled.

Of course! I’d LOVE to sing.

So I sang the following

Fame, if you win it, comes and goes in a minute.
Where’s the real stuff in life to cling to?
Love is the answer. Someone to love is the answer.
Once you’ve found them, build your world around them.
Make someone happy. Make just one someone happy.
And you will be happy too.

They thanked me for coming and auditioning. I thanked them and curtsied (trite, but true)… and stepped out the door…back into the real world…back into uncertainty, but with a sense of joy…that I had accomplished what I set out to do. I had come back again to audition for the 3rd time.

11:55pm Got back to the waiting room to grab my stuff…And suddenly realized that I FORGOT TO TELL THEM ABOUT MY CONFLICT FOR CALLBACKS IN MARCH!!!! Oh, crap! (See yesterday’s post, if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) Ha ha ha ha! I got too caught up in the moment...talking about dreams coming true and the universe and crap. Ooops! Damn it! ...Best laid plans… I guess I’ll have to wait and see if I even get invited to the final callbacks…and then I’ll address it with them over the phone.

Whah-whah. It might be a moot point anyway. Who knows? Never can tell with these things. Sometimes you feel like it’s a total love-fest in the room at an audition and then you never get a call. There’s really no rhyme or reason to these things. Can’t take it personally. Just gotta let go of trying to control it or understand it and leave it up to God/the universe/the fates. Ya know?

Just grateful to have had the opportunity to try again.

12noon Walked over to the Astor Place Starbucks to buy some coffee and write this post.

In conclusion:

Did this feel like a successful audition experience?


I was bolder and more vulnerable and more transparent than I had ever been before. I gave them an accurate snapshot of exactly where I am at…And now it’s up to them to know whether or not I will “fit” into their program. Only they can know that.

But I do not have the regret I walked away with from last year (thank goodness)…which was…if only they knew…if only they knew me. (How sad is that?) But, that’s sooooo not even an issue this year. I didn’t hide myself at ALL this time. They toooootally got to see me, because that’s what I chose to show them…just me…Not what I thought they were “looking for” or what I thought they might “want to see.” Just me...they way that I am.

And the fact that I can feel good about just being me…Now THAT’s success.

Thank you to everyone who sent me a text/email/FB post of support and encouragement today. It makes me feel so blessed to have you all rallying around me in support of this dream of mine!!! What an awesome feeling…to sit in the waiting-room at NYU…knowing that there are alllll these wonderful, generous humans out there thinking of me and wishing me well. I get all gooey and emotional about it. Seriously. Thanks for reminding me that I’m not alone.



  1. love you Virginia! :) so very proud of you :) -tracy

  2. I love this blog! So inspiring! Congratulations on your successful audition! There is no greater feeling!

  3. You know, that I have always felt you had what it takes to be a success in this business. I have deep empathy for your life and the things in it you must do to survive. Education is so important now days and I know you realize that. Keep moving forward and keep studying and never put away your dancing shoes. I didn't realize until reading this blog that we both know the same person in "On A Clear Day". Of course that is going back many years. We are proud of you dear friend.

  4. I feel like I was in the room with you! Thank u for honesty in sharing! You're going to make it :)

  5. Love this! Thanks for sharing. Question: did you re-use pieces each year or find new monologues every cycle? Or keep some and get rid of others? I noticed you've reference a non-Shakespeare classical monologue several times, so I wasn't sure if that was the same piece.

  6. Hi Michelle,

    I have never used any of my pieces from previous years auditioning. I've always done all new pieces every year. Mostly this is because I always felt like I could do better than the pieces that I had done before and I wanted to challenge myself. But I also think that NYU has a "rule" somewhere on the website that they want to see new pieces if you're auditioning again. Don't take my word for it though. Check out the Tisch website for their current guidelines for audition material.

    Best of luck!



  7. Hey V,

    Do you remember how long it took to get called for the callback invite? I know it happened quite a bit ago. I auditioned on 1/30 and Im still waiting to hear from them...don't want to email and ask b/c I think that would be unprofessional.