Welcome to the Juilliard Drama Division

by Kathy Hood, Drama Division Administrative Director

Hello and Happy New Year to all of our Drama applicants!

As the Administrative Director of the Drama Division, one of the great joys of my job is to organize and run our annual auditions and to assist each and every one of you throughout this process in a personal and human way. That is one of the most important values that we all endeavor to bring to these auditions and to provide the best environment possible for you to share your work.  I love the opportunity the audition process presents for us to meet such an extraordinary and diverse group of talented actors.   I have spent the last few weeks reading through all of your applications  and I can tell you that I have been very moved by your stories of great courage, determination, passion and dedication.  You have eloquently described your individual journeys and why you love this work.  It has been inspiring to me to know you are the next generation of artists who will be leading the way.  Thank you for sharing with such thoughtfulness and generosity.

When the Admissions Office asked me to write an introductory blog to help kick off the beginning of our audition process, I thought “Fantastic, Great!  I know I can offer some good advice and words of wisdom – this will be EASY to write”.  Cut to a blank computer screen.  I type at keys but somehow no words form – I had entered the zone of writer’s block.  After some contemplation (and breathing!) I came to realize I was too concerned about trying to dispense a magnificent pearl of wisdom or advice;  too worried about whether I would be witty enough or inspire with my words.  I was trying to create the “perfect blog”.  I came into awareness that in my struggle to write this blog there might be a metaphor for the auditions themselves.  Instead of trying to be excellent or impress, I needed to be true to my authentic self and voice.  Spinning my wheels in an effort to perfect something got me nowhere.  So I decided to take a page from all of you and write what is in my heart – to just be and know that is enough.

Here are a few things that are on my mind:

  • First of all – how are you doing?  I can imagine that you must be feeling a combination of excitement, nervousness and anticipation as you ready yourself for the audition experience.  One of my students asked me yesterday how I was doing in preparation for the auditions and I  told them that I was likely feeling like the applicants right now- a mixture of all of the above!  The members of the Drama Division are very excited to meet you and we also share a similar nervousness in entering into a new experience with all of you and feel a wonderful anticipation for what lies ahead.  As the famous New York Yankee shortstop Phil Rizzuto once said, “Anybody who isn’t nervous on the first day of anything just  isn’t human”!
  • We have been in your shoes.  We have all auditioned before and know first-hand about the amount of courage it takes to walk into a room, share a story and reveal something about yourself and the character.  If you are auditioning in New York, you will meet many of our students who will be working the auditions in support of your experience.  They will answer questions, talk about life at Juilliard, help you feel calm before you go into the audition room, and share their own audition experiences with you.  They are an amazing group and I know you will really enjoy meeting them on your audition day.  If you are auditioning in Chicago or San Francisco, I will be there and look forward to meeting you in person and helping you navigate through the day.
  • We have tremendous respect for your time and talent.  We hope the auditions will be a more relaxed experience then perhaps you have envisioned.  I often tell applicants that it can be helpful to come into the room with the mindset that you are wearing your “student hat”.  That  you are coming into the room to work instead of feeling that you have something to prove – that can be very beneficial.
  • Select material that you love – a character, a situation, a story.  It will make the process easier if you can hook into something that you care about.  I think it is easy to fall into the trap of preparing material that you think we want to see – but what we really want to see is you and you in transformation.  We care about your choices, instincts and impulses.  There is no correct way of doing a monologue.  You will bring your own unique perspective and point-of-view to the work – we look forward to seeing that!
  • Take your time!  Breathe!  There is no rush.  This is your time and your audition.
  • Everybody has the same chance at admission.  Yes  – it is true and it something that we take great pride in with our audition process.  The playing field is level.  It doesn’t matter if you are graduating from high school or maybe have been out in the field working for a few years.   All are welcome regardless of prior training.   We embrace an artistic model of training – you come to the work at the school when the timing is right.
  • Regardless of the outcome of the audition, I know you have tremendous futures ahead.  You have already shown great power, will and determination to get to this point in time.  I believe you will continue to use your gifts to create your own path – those options are truly endless and exciting.

I believe that we  all part of one community.  Many of you will become our future colleagues not only as actors but as playwrights, directors, producers, designers, etc.  We are humbled and honored that you have selected Juilliard as a possible place as your educational and artistic home.  We welcome you with a full and open heart.

Wishing you all the best,

Kathy Hood

Administrative Director, Drama Division

P.S. – Stay tuned for some upcoming blogs over the next two weeks from our students.  I think you will really enjoy hearing their personal audition stories!