The Story of Me Being Hilariously Unqualified
The year was 2016 and I was a small town girl in New York with hopes of being a star. I was quickly closing out my sixth year in the city with very moderate success. Moderate might be the wrong word. I had been hired three times to speak. Every other role I’d ever taken either didn’t pay or had me stuck somewhere in the background for “background” or “atmosphere.”
It should definitely be mentioned that none of this was a result of lack of trying. I auditioned frequently and made sure that every job I held was the kind I could get a shift covered in a day’s notice on the off chance I might “make it.” That being said, there just weren’t many roles for a girl like me and even fewer that paid.
Every day I spent at least an hour browsing through my emails and Backstage for casting calls and I would apply for every single one that could possibly apply to me. Usually I’d hear nothing. Occasionally I’d get an “extra” role. The grind continued.
This story is not about all the times I was denied an audition, though. This story is about the time I was actually welcomed to one.
The production was “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert.” A stage adaptation of the cult classic movie starring the guy from Lord of the Rings and V for Vendetta. The pay was $1000 a week + room and board on the Norwegian Cruise Line where I would be performing. The first audition was a dance audition. “Okay.” I decided, “I should be able to handle this.”
Now, in case you can’t see my profile picture while reading this story, I should mention that I am white. A fact that will become painfully obvious soon. Also, I had never been formally trained on how to dance. But I did dance at parties and whatnot (usually while drinking alcohol… always while drinking alcohol) so I figured I should do okay.
I showed up to the audition and I was wearing jeans and shoes that you shouldn’t bring to a dance audition. Everyone else was wearing dance outfits and dancing shoes. This should have been my first warning that I was in a little bit over my head.
The dance instructor came out and gave us our first 8 steps. “Okay!” I thought as I watched myself in the mirror, “I got this!” The song playing was “It’s Raining Men” and I just had to push the curtains aside and present myself. So far, so good.
Then the dance instructor laid out the next 56 steps. All at once. And every single person there mastered it immediately… except for me.
I watched the mirror as I was completely out of sync in a room where every single person was perfect. It was perfectly comedic. If I hadn’t been so mortified, I would have been laughing hysterically. Google “Naked Gun 3: At the Oscars” and watch that clip. That’s how bad I was.
After at least seven agonizing rounds of this, the dance instructor called out the names of the dancers who could stay and said, “If your name isn’t called, that’s your cue to leave.” Well, someone there had a name that was almost the same as my name. That was the best part.
Comedically failing an audition by yourself is one thing Comedically failing an audition in a room full of people is another. But standing up to a wrong name thinking that somehow I was advancing to the next round of auditions after failing so hard I think I gave the dance instructor a migraine? That’s a level of embarrassment I will never forget. Every eye in the room was on me and not a single person said a word. The other person stood up and I quietly sat back down when I realized. The next six minutes took at least a day and a half as I waited to leave.
I was so embarrassed I actually called out of work that evening, but I did learn a valuable lesson that most of you already know: Don’t assume that you’re a master of something if you’ve never tried it before.