I Auditioned for my First Role in 7 Years, Here's How it Went (and what I Wore)
by Veronica R.
Fair warning my friend, what follows is a story of serendipity, passion and heartbreak. Oh yes, and of course, a heaping dose of melodrama. But let’s just jump right in, shall we?
A few weeks ago, I woke up on what should’ve been a glorious sunny morning feeling… off. Just a few days prior, I’d been happily musing over the fact that I’d spent the beginning of my twenties meticulously ticking things off my bucket list: traveling the world, getting engaged, going to Fashion Week, growing a YouTube channel, learning instruments, etc. And yet, it felt like something was missing.
Performing and I have had an on-again-off-again relationship since I started (and stopped soon after) acting in elementary school. I’ve always struggled with pretty crippling anxiety but in high school, I joined the school Musical in my Senior year and overcome my stage fright for good.
Or so I thought.
Fast forward about 7 years, and somehow, my stage fright had come back with a vengeance. Still, I couldn’t deny how much I missed it. I missed the lights, the community, the energy. But most of all, I missed that electric moment right before going on stage. If meditation is the art of being fully present, than performing is perhaps my greatest form of meditation; in no other situation have I ever felt such a wonderful mix of electricity and peace. I knew someday soon, I wasn’t going to be able to deny this inner longing anymore, I’d have to take action.
I just didn’t think it would be so soon.
See, my brain’s version of “soon” would have been preferably… never. It would’ve loved for me to simply complain about this dilemma for the rest of my life, but never actually leave my comfort zone long enough to do anything about it. But someone up there must have heard my plea and they were terrifyingly efficient in answering the call (now, if we could just get that same level of enthusiasm at the DMV). Because the very same day I cried about all of this to my fiancee, I ran into an old friend who mentioned she was doing the costumes for The Producers. In fact, she was working for the same theater that I had last performed at 7 years prior. Excited, I asked her if she knew of any upcoming auditions.
“Well, we’re auditioning for The Producers on the 29th!” she said.
“Oh, okay! Of March?” I asked, as February was just about to end.
“No, like in 2 days.”
I was, at once, filled with both excitement and dread. Excitement because I was getting what I wanted! And dread because… well.. I was getting what I wanted. I knew I needed to do this. I had no choice. How could I complain all morning, but turn away the moment the solution was right there in front of me? It wasn’t ideal, but nonetheless, with 2 days to prepare, I ran home and obsessively practiced my audition song.
When that fateful day finally rolled around, a new kind of panic set in. The omgwhatamigoingtowear??? panic. How should I present myself for such a critical (in every sense of the word), moment? What exactly is the proper attire for your first musical debut in several years wherein you must both stand out but dress comfortably enough to dance and sweat and sing and not worry about a wardrobe malfunction?
I avoided choosing an outfit until the last possible moment, intentionally denying myself time to overthink it. Dressing instinctually, I chose the black-leggings-black-
I raced to the audition and even made it there early. So early in fact, it seemed like no one else was there except for one other actor waiting in his car. The theater was locked, no lights were on, so I waited in my car too with a sinking feeling that something wasn’t right. By this point, auditions should’ve been starting by now, and that’s when my fear was confirmed. As the other actor was about to leave, he graciously told me the auditions had been moved to a completely different location. Thankfully, he kindly let me follow him to the proper place but forget about being early, now I’d absolutely be late.
Regardless, I walked in with my head held high and introduced myself. Before I knew what was happening the auditions were beginning. I was up there, belting my heart out and dancing with no real training. Yet somehow, I felt so much more comfortable than I expected. It was over in a flash and I left the audition feeling like a million bucks.
The next day, while thrifting, I got a call I didn’t see coming at all.
“We’d like you to come back and audition for the role of Ulla,” I heard the lovely director saying in my ear. In a predominantly male play, Ulla is basically the only female lead. I couldn’t believe it. However, if I thought I was nervous before, now I was completely panicked. I had less than 48 hours to prepare a much bigger song in between working full time. I spent every spare second listening to the soundtrack, running to the bathroom to practice in the mirror whenever I could and belting my heart out on my commute. While before, I’d been able to tell myself that I didn’t care about getting a big part, the big part, once it was dangled in front of me, I knew I wanted it more than anything, and I was going to give it all I had.
Yet again, I found myself standing before the casting crew. A strange sense of confidence was taking me over and I pulled out all the stops I could. I danced, I shook, I shimmied and put on my best Swedish accent. I had no idea where all of this was coming from, but I felt like for the first time in such a long time, I was really living the life I was supposed to be living, and dare I say it… maybe even had a real shot.
Then, after a hearing a comment someone made before I left, I knew instantly I wasn’t getting the part. Even so, it didn’t hurt any less when I got the call confirming it the next day. The director offered me a part at least, which, I had to remind myself was my biggest dream just two days ago. I knew I should’ve been grateful, I was grateful. Still, after working so tirelessly, giving it all I possibly had and learning my best wasn’t good enough, I accepted the offer, said thank you and promptly burst into tears the moment we hung up.
Now, I can’t lie. That day, I was being quite the drama queen. I was exhibiting the kind of mourning generally reserved for situations like the airport losing your luggage with like, ALL of your favorite clothes in it. Because part of me was mourning something very special. Though it was short lived, I’d spent so much time getting close to the idea of Ulla. I had intensely imagined wearing her costumes, learning her numbers, her personality, her accent. But Ulla wasn’t mine to play, and saying goodbye to that dream was heartbreaking.
Dealing with rejection and heartbreak sucks. But here’s the thing. Sometimes, it’s vital. Sometimes we think we’re comfortable where we are, but really, we’re just trapped. Fear is convincing us to stay put, to avoid following our hearts because it’ll only lead to trouble. However, I started to realize… maybe I wanted a little trouble..? Maybe I wanted the messy, imperfect chaos of life. Maybe I wanted my heart to be liberated, to lead me through the good and the bad. Maybe I wanted, not a boring, safe life, but a full life. Sometimes, when our hearts are stuck shut off to the rest of the world, we need something to break them open, to let new light in.
And in that new light, I saw everything so clearly. I saw that this wasn’t the end of the road, but only the beginning. I saw the fire within me, awakened. I saw my heart breaking again and again if that’s what it would take to live my dreams. I saw more strength and courage within myself than I’d seen in a long time. I saw the person I was really born to be.
And I can’t wait to become her.