Success Stories...

Hey, Peeps!

When I started writing this blog last year I could never have imagined that so many wonderful people would gather around and join in on the journey!

One such incredible my new friend Erin. Erin's story, like my own, is one of try, try, try again when it comes to auditioning for grad school MFA programs. She sent me an AMAZING email telling me her whole story and it's super inspiring. She's kindly agreed to share her story with us. Whoo-hoo!

I hope that her courageous and committed effort to stick-with-it and keep auditioning year after year will help you to stay motivated to follow your dreams and pursue your goals...even when the going gets rough. 

Remember: All your efforts are worth it. Progress is happening! Everything you're doing right now is all valuable part of the journey.

If you've got a grad school audition success story that you'd like to me at! Would love to publish your story on this blog!


(And without further ado... Erin's told by Erin...Enjoy!)

Erin and the MFA

This ain’t my first rodeo. I’ve been chasing after this dream since I was a junior in college. My dream is a place where I don’t need a day job, where I am cast in plays constantly, where I can focus solely on my craft. After a long debate with myself, the answer was clear, graduate school. But, I don’t want just any graduate training. I want the best. After grad school, I don’t want to teach, I want to work. However, what no one tells you is, getting into a top MFA program takes just as much luck as it does talent. There are so may factors running for or against you; your “type”, age, education, personality, their season, other actors in their program, other actors auditioning for their program, your monologues, the time of day, are they hungry, bored. Just considering them can drive you crazy. Once you add in the odds to those factors, you either reach a place of complete insanity or complete relaxation. Either way, its beyond control and all you have is your work in the room for seven minutes.

*           *           *

Its my last audition, I’m standing in the group warm up at Juilliard, and, for the first time in the past three weeks, I hear something genuine. The usual speech applicants get, is “We want to see you, and your work, don’t try too hard, just be yourself, but still impress us”. I’ve heard it so many times that I’ve tuned it out. Instead, on this bitter February morning I hear the chair of Drama at Juilliard say, “Sometimes the path we want isn’t the path for us. I, for one, know that if I got everything that I wanted I’d be a very unhappy person I wouldn’t be where I am today and I am quite happy with where I am.” All 200 of us hopefuls nervously chuckle back. In that moment I realize, there ain’t a damn thing I can do that I haven’t already done. I know my pieces, I practiced my song, got my recs, combed over my personal statement, this is either happening or its not. “This” being getting into an MFA acting program. So, I relax, wait my turn and do my work. I’m the last audition of the day, its my last audition of this whole process, and as I walk out of the room one last time, I can’t help but breath a sigh of relief. Its over. For now. Its over.

*           *           *

Strangely, MFA auditions begin to have a rhythm. Hi my name is, my pieces are, (banter banter banter), thank you. It can feel a bit like a fun house; its high stress, you enter strange but familiar rooms with strange but familiar people, everyone is super smiley, and you do it over and over again. It can get exhausting, but still there are these moments of clarity. A genuine “break a leg” from the audition monitor, or seeing a familiar face in the hallway. All these moments do is remind you, that you are a human going through this process. Don’t get caught up in the minutia of it, do your work.

*           *           *

Its an oddly warm day in January and my very first audition of it all is at 10 am. I am not a morning person. So, a 10am audition worries me. More than that, it is for the Old Globe MFA program. Since graduating, nearly ever actor I met, who I respected, raved about the place, and, after diligent research, I made it my hail mary pass. My wildcard school. It was my first time applying there and the school only recruits three women a year. Three. In my morning haze all I can think is “Old Globe” must also stand for “Original Gansta”, cause they didn’t fuck with end-of-hour, end-of-day, or final callbacks. No. You. Have. Seven. Minutes. They make phone calls in March. (bitches). Just as I begin to giggle, the door opens.

“Erin, are you ready?”

When I walk into the room at Ripley, Richard Seer gets up from behind the table and shakes my hand. I promptly forget how hand shakes work. I have not rehearsed a hand shake. Smile. Walk in. Find the center of the room and the chair while saying “Hello my name is Erin. My first piece is from...” Sure. I can do that in a hail storm. But this is different. Theres no line on the floor telling me to stay away. No distant professor perched behind a table. I am face to face with a person. I shake his hand, with the wrong hand, and introduce myself.

“Hi, I’m Erin.”

I introduce my pieces, and have at it. I feel them sink into the sweet spot. That nitch. The pocket of awesome. They went well, so freakin’ well. I felt the ease of the room give me the space to do my work and work it I did. After a few questions about my classical piece and why I am applying to graduate school, I hear,

“So, how do you like California?”

It was so early for me, that my defenses were down. I was too tired to put on my interview face, so I was just real. It was alarmingly easy for me to be myself infront of these people. Sure, there were other good/great auditions. Other callbacks, but nothing felt like that. Nothing. I really liked these people, not just because they were nice, but because...well...we just seemed to get each other. And it seemed to come out of left field. For years I was a one-track-minded actor when it came to MFAs. Well. Three-track-minded. Yale. NYU. UCSD. Those were the best. Or so I had been told. But what I never considered was, which is the best for me? What if I don’t like any of them? After my auditions, to my surprise, the Old Globe had risen to the top of my list. Quickly followed by Juilliard and Yale. So with my opinion of MFAs turned on its head, I headed into “waiting for callback/offer hell” a.k.a. February.

*           *           *

Those seven minute auditions were three years in the making. It was my third time in some of those rooms. The first time I applied to grad school I got waitlisted, my second time I was as an alternate. This time, I knew what I was getting myself into, and I was going to go big or go home. All summer I read plays. I started working monologues in September. I narrowed 16 pieces down to 6. Yes, I practiced walking into rooms, finding the center and the chair while smiling and saying my name. Yes, it seems ridiculously simple. Yes, it is one of the biggest mind-fucks ever, thus making it the most under-estimated skill in the world. That's right. Skill. Skill was why I was doing this. “Because there is talent and there is skill. You are born with talent. Skill comes from working on your craft every day.” (Will Smith said that. That quote changed my opinion of Will Smith.)

A lot of quotes became important through this process's a crazy process. It tests you in ways that can really knock you off balance. Sometimes you need a few grounded words to keep your head on straight. So when a friend emailed me the following, I knew the universe was making sure my head was in the right place:

“When you have worked as hard and done as much and strived and tried and given and plead and bargained and hoped...surrender. When you have done all that you can do, and there is nothing left for you to do. Give it up. Give it up to that thing that is greater than yourself and let it then become a part of the flow.” Oprah Winfrey

Can it really be that simple? Does it cost me anything to believe that it can be that simple? (Am I really becoming an Oprah person while I’m still in my 20s?)

*           *           *

As March rolled in, the calls were going out and my phone wasn’t ringing. Well, it was ringing with “re-financing” offers from at least 6 different numbers from all over the country. So, when my phone rang in mid-March with an unknown number, the only thing stopping me from sticking the phone in-front of my speakers with NyanCat on full blast, was the fact that I was at work. My office is cool, but not that cool. (No one should have to tolerate unwarranted NyanKitty.) As I was writing the phone number down to block it, some part of me had to laugh. 619. San Diego. Those credit card bastards had reached a new low. So I answered in a tone that would have made my mother blush.


“Oh, hello Erin, this is Richard over at the Old Globe, is this a bad time?”

“No. No its fine. Its---is this phone call what I think it is?”

“Well, that all depends on what you’re thinking...”

*           *           *

I squeaked. I cried. I laughed. I screamed. I didn’t breathe for a full minute. I had just gotten into graduate school. After three years of trying. I had gotten in. Finally. For reals. No wait-list. No alternate. No “please reapply”. I should have been expecting this. Some part of me was expecting this. But it still took my by surprise. I had an offer. A sick offer. The Old Globe recruits 7 students out of nearly 900 applicants. Seven. 3 women and 4 men. And, if you get in, you get to go for free. Free. In addition to some of the finest training in the country, you get an all expenses paid round trip to London. You get to work at The Old Globe year round for two seasons. For free. Full-ride. Plus living stipend. Valued at over 80,000 a piece. And they wanted to give that to me. Me. My first instinct was, of course, play hard to get.

“I’m not sure, so I’m just gonna say yes. Yes. Yes.”

“Is that an acceptance "Yes?"”

“Yes. I accept. Yes. I. Accept. Ooh, what did I just do?”

“Do you want to talk to one of the students?”

“Yes and Yes, I still accept. Yes.”

“This might be my favorite phone call.”

Not my most eloquent, but, I got my message across. Yes! I began dancing across the halls of my office building.

*           *           *

Even after I had called my family to tell them the news. After I received a call from a current student congratulating me and answering my questions. After I got my reading list and signed my contract. I still have trouble wrapping my head around it. I know that I’m moving from NYC to San Diego and I have no idea what is in store for me when I get there. But, I know I’m that I am exactly where I need to be. As an artist, moments of certainty are so rare that I want to hold on to it with all I’ve got, but this refuses to be held.

For anyone who is planning on applying to grad school, or has applied, who is accepted, still waiting, or rejected. I congratulate you. There need to be more congratulations for just completing the process. Seriously, if you successfully complete an MFA application you deserve a trophy. A big trophy. (You should get a certificate for just considering applying.) No matter the outcome, you can walk away knowing that you have shown someone your art for at least seven minutes in a room. That is a microcosm of what its all about. People may like your art and they may not. It doesn’t matter. Just saying, “Hi my name is ... and this what I do,” as an artist, there is no braver statement. And I, for one, believe that if you can truly say that, there is no failure, only another path.

*           *           *

(Additional note from Virginia...)

Sending a BIG THANK YOU to Erin, for sharing your story with us. It is truly wonderful.

Congratulations!!! The Old Globe in San Diego is lucky to have snagged you this year!

And thank you to all of you readers. Sending all of you big love and best wishes, as many of you are preparing for next year's audition process. 

Just do your best...always...and your best will get better over time....True story.

Oh, yeah...and have FUN in the process. Don't forget about that!




  1. I am totally freaking out right now about applications and monologues and everything else that is happening but this story has me in full on tears. I'm so happy just reading that story gave me so much hope. Thank you!

  2. What a lovely success story! I'm hoping to experience a similar feeling sometime next March! I've been working hard on my monologues since January, and just scrapped my contemporaries and am looking for new ones that suit me better. Break legs to everyone out there. Virginia and Erin, thank you for sharing your stories with everyone!

  3. Any stories about The Actor's Studio auditions?