The Drama Audition Experience

By: Jo Mei, First Year Drama Student

Hi! My name is Jo Mei, I’m a first year drama diploma student, which means I attended college before coming to Juilliard.

I have to say, I remember this time last year like it was yesterday. I remember getting lost on 65th Street and thinking I was going to miss my 9 a.m. call time. I remember how stunned and excited I was at seeing my name on the callback list…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I should tell you that this wasn’t my first Juilliard audition. I had auditioned once before, during my senior year in high school. It was a complete mess, and it’s kind of a blur to me now because I’ve tried to block it out of my memory. I’d come to the city by myself on the Greyhound Bus. I was overwhelmed by New York City, and as soon as I got into the audition waiting room, I froze because I could not believe that all these people wanted to be actors. By the time my name was called I had forgotten why I was there, because I’d gotten so caught up watching others do their warm-ups and listening to other people’s conversations.

This time around, things could not have been more different.

First of all I came in with no expectations, except to do my best and to prove that I wasn’t scared of this Juilliard place. I was surprised by how nice and friendly everyone from the school was. There were name-tag-wearing students everywhere. They answered questions, introduced themselves, and talked about the school. I chose not to talk to anyone, however, knowing that I’d lose focus.

So when I found out my appointment was second to last, I pulled out my book and read. As my call time got closer, I used the provided practice rooms twice. I’m not saying don’t talk to people and you’ll do well–no, not at all. You should do what makes you comfortable. Keeping to myself for that time before my call time was what I needed to focus. But really, if chatting gets your mind off your nerves, by all means chat away! We’re all different.

What I wish I’d known my first time around was that the Juilliard faculty wants everyone to do great. They wanted me to walk in and wow them and make them say, “OK! She’s in. One down, 17 more to go.” Those might not be the exact words you imagine in your scenario, but you get the idea: you doing well only makes their job easier

So what was my experience in the room? Oh! - Before I even got inside, the guy before me came out with a huge smile on his face. I chose to interpret this positively and think they must tell really good jokes in there. When I walked in, I got so nervous. My voice wouldn’t come out when I tried to say my own name at one point. But the four faculty members in the room took the time to let me settle in. I took in the space of the room, decided where to focus my eyes and had one of the best auditions of my life.

The rest of the day only got easier. I was asked to do a third monologue in my morning session. I was in a dream state for the five hours between seeing my name on the callback list and returning to the school for evening callbacks. There was something like 13 people called back that day (including that guy who went right before me), and we all had a really good time chatting and snacking on food the school provided. Each of us presented our monologues again for the entire faculty. We also went in together to play games involving movement and speech. A lot more students stopped by to say hello and congratulations.

That day, I really felt that if my association with Juilliard ended then and there I would still be very happy. Because I got further than I did the first time, and I knew I did the best I could and had a wonderful time.

So that’s my abbreviated story. If I can get in, anybody can. Just be yourself. Have a good audition, everyone! And please say hello if you see me during at the auditions. I’m the tall Asian one.