A little background... Ms. Anonymous is an incredibly talented friend of mine. She decided to apply to just one grad school this year (American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco) and has been following the AcceptanceProject blog over the past several months.
Ms. Anonymous and I both share the perspective that the process of applying for grad school is a valuable one, in and of itself, because it forces you to get really focused and specific about who you are and what you really want for your future. It's an incredibly personal and introspective application process. And therefore, even if you're not "accepted," you're walking away with some valuable self-knowledge about what you really want for your life. And because you've gained this new self-awareness you will naturally be drawn to make changes and explore avenues to improve your situation and get you moving in the direction of your dreams.
I believe that, almost universally, the desire to apply to grad school comes from a place of dissatisfaction in our current situation...We see a need for improvement in certain areas...career, training, mentorship, community, location ...whatever... SOMETHING is not working...and we know it...and we're hoping that perhaps grad school will help bridge that gap between where we are now and who we seek to become.
I wanted to share Ms. Anonymous' email with you...because stories like hers are the PRIMARY reason that I wanted to start this blog....To remind her that she is not alone. That I am not alone. You are not alone.
We are not competing with each other. We are in this together. Not just in the pursuit of grad school acceptance, but in the pursuit of creative growth. We are all searching for our right path and the place where we can find guidance to reach our greatest artistic potential.
I hope you will feel the camaraderie expressed in Ms. Anonymous' email and know that (though you may not know them personally) there are thousands of others out there sharing your journey this year and thinking the same thoughts you've been thinking and sharing the same fears you've been feeling and still pushing through and going for it anyway!
Here is Ms. Anonymous' email of February 18, 2012...
Hey there beautiful lady!!!
I just read your blog about Julliard. BIG bummer. They truly don't know what they are missing, despite the fact that they are choosing precisely what they want!!
I am SO grateful that you are sharing your experience with this whole process, including your first two years of auditions [NYU & Yale]. It's interesting... I was so hoping that with all of this energy you are putting into the universe that you would TOTALLY get in to ALL THREE schools! You are so focused, and diligent, and selflessly sharing it all with the world... to me that means you should get what you want and deserve =). Alas, that is clearly not how the universe works. Not exactly, anyway.
So, I did not get past the first cut at ACT. It was seriously one of the best auditions of my life. I sort of blew myself away with the depths I was able to reach, the effortlessness of creating both characters back to back, and just how much fun the whole process was. And NOTHING!!!!! I seriously stood there looking at the list making sure I hadn't missed my name, wondering if it had somehow fallen off the piece of paper. I wondered if they were going to call me later and be like "oops! We totally meant to call you back!! Turn around and get here quick!!" I mean, I didn't assume I was going to get in, but called back for the first round? REALLY??? One of my concerns about my viability for the program was my age. The average age of the ACT MFA student is 24. I am 33. The other is my ethnicity. ACT is very PC and most of the people chosen will be of some ethnicity other than white. I would have been totally happy assuming that I was just too old or white in their eyes, and that it had nothing to do with my work. Except that there was a white woman who certainly looked older than 24 called back!!! So I can't blame it on that either. I just simply didn't get selected.
So what does that mean? Am I not as talented as the people chosen? Am I not supposed to be an actor? No, no, no, and no. I'm just not supposed to get my MFA right now. And one of the reasons I know that is because you have shared your journey. It's hard to take an accurate appraisal of myself because I can't actually SEE my work. But I KNOW you. I KNOW your work. I KNOW your resume!!! You are brilliant, talented, stunningly beautiful, and a nice person to boot! And you do the work. You do the work on yourself, and you do the work for your characters. You are a professional actor, and a conscious human being. And who the heck knows why you or I weren't chosen, other than we just weren't!! With 1500 aplicants (most of whom are probably pretty darn talented if they're even applying!), it's got to feel like they are throwing darts at a dartboard in their selection process. Which for me brings it down to the "Je ne sais quoi" of the universe. The unknown guidance system that moves us like chess pieces through this crazy game of life. I AM talented. I AM a professional actor. And I AM ambitious. I WILL work... I just don't know where or how or why. I just have to keep putting myself out there and see where I end up!! It may not look like I think I want it to look. But I have a gift to give, and I believe gifts are meant to be given.
Personally, I took this immediate rejection as a sign that I need to continue doing what I'm doing- film work, especially commercials (DEEP acting required there), musical theatre, and keep going with my song writing. I was given a voice... I should be using it =). I don't need a masters degree to do those things. I'm good enough all ready, and I'm ready to work. I AM working!!! I just want more work =). (I am also grateful that I don't have have to needlessly fill out the financial aid forms ;). )
Thank you, Ms. Anonymous, for sharing your story with us! You are RIGHT, you are incredibly talented and have some major gifts to give the world. You touch the lives of all those who know you and inspire them to greater creative heights! (I know..because I am one of them.)
I am grateful for your taking the time to write, expressing yourself with such openness...and letting me post your words on the blog. You are very courageous. Your insight is valuable and inspiring. Best wishes for you with your next creative steps.
I hope we can all take a lesson from Ms. Anonymous and move forward with confidence...knowing that we're on the right path.