Let It Go or Why I’ve Quit Musical Theatre (For Now, Anyway)

I love musical theatre.  When I was a kid, I used to relish dressing up and singing at the top of my lungs to Gypsy or Sound of Music around my house.  I was obsessed with the ’96 revival of Chicago with Bebe Neuwirth and Ann Reinking, listening to it over and over again.  Fosse was like a god to me; Sondheim even more so.  While I originally wanted to be a ballerina, by the age of twelve, it became pretty apparent I was destined for a career as an actor, specifically one in musical theatre as I not only would get to sing and act but also dance too.  I used to check out tons of old movie musicals from my library and video store like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (that barn dance still gets me every time) or Streisand’s version of Hello Dolly!  The first show I saw on Broadway was the revival of 42nd Street, and when the curtain lifted at the beginning of the show only revealing a line of tap dancing feet, I started to cry.  Meeting Angela Lansbury once outside a theatre is still one of the great highlights of my life.

I worked hard in college as a musical theatre major at a school with a very good reputation in the industry.  It was competitive to be sure, but that competition fueled my own efforts to grow, learn, and further my own individual talents.  I studied voice with a wonderful teacher, performed in several musicals including the lead my senior year in The Light in the Piazza, and while I didn’t make our school’s agent showcase, I graduated feeling pretty confident about my own skills as a performer and ready to at last move to the Big Apple to begin my career as an actor.

I did not move expecting to land a Broadway show right off the bat or my Actors Equity Card.  I have always assumed I would have to work hard and pay my dues.  I have never done summer stock though I have auditioned many times.  I have barely performed much at all since moving here nearly two and a half years ago.  While it can be hard and you feel as though you’re behind everyone else (especially when one of your classmates is doing her third Broadway show, your best friend has been on a national tour for the last two years, and far more are leaving to do regional work all the time), it’s important to remember that, as cliché as it sounds, everyone has their own artistic journey to make and perhaps mine is going to be far, far different from my peers.  I don’t worry too much anymore about how often I am or am not getting cast because I know it’s not reflective of who I am or the value of my artistic talents.  I’ve always kind of done my own thing anyway.

For a while after I first moved, I was going to lots of musical auditions: cattle calls, EPAs, ECCs, tours, etc.  Any young woman currently in the industry will tell you we have always had it much rougher than the men, but with economic setbacks, it’s even worse these days.  400 women will show up to audition for about 8-10 roles whereas 180 men will show up for about 10-15 roles.  You do the math; it’s bleak.  I could get into a whole discussion about the lack of equal representation for women in the entertainment industry, but that is a much lengthier topic that deserves its own time.  ANYWAY, the thing about auditioning with 399 other women on a regular basis is having to squeeze into a holding room for hours on end while we’re all waiting to audition and listen to them all try to one up each other about their resume credits, the famous people they’ve worked with/know, etc.  I’m sure this happens at the male audition calls too.  I’m not one for audition chitchat, personally.  I like to come in, do my thing, and get out and on with my day, so I got used to bringing my iPod or a book to drown everyone else out, but it’s hard.  And it’s not everyone doing it, but you can feel the negative animosity buzzing around you, and it was starting to make me dread going to musical auditions.  In fact, the more musical auditions I went to, the more miserable I felt.

To clarify, I could give two shits about what’s on your resume (because if I wanted to know, I’d just read it) or who you know/worked with, because on the day of the audition it only matters what you can do NOW, but the negativity being thrown around is unsettling.  Everyone around town uses a website called Audition Update to check the progress of various auditions throughout the day, whether callbacks are being given out, etc.  It’s a great resource.  But I’m dismayed by one particular aspect of the website called the Bitching Post where you can literally bitch via web comments about how auditions are run, various theatres, even people you may have worked with.  After reading through diatribe after diatribe each more hateful and venomous than the last, I realized this was the same crap I was hearing at auditions, and not only was it hurtful to those on the receiving end of these comments, but totally unprofessional conduct from people I consider colleagues.

And it doesn’t stop there.  Too often over the course of my 2+ years in this city, I have been at gatherings with musical theatre industry people and when the topic is turned to a fellow artist’s singing performance on a national or international stage, that artist is completely ripped to shreds with no redeeming qualities mentioned whatsoever (a lot of it online, which is the breeding ground for a lot of bad juju).  Apparently, according to some, this is acceptable simply because we all have fancy advanced degrees in singing so we have more knowledge and it’s “constructive criticism.”  I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to believe saying someone sounds like they’re dying and should stop singing forever or just “raped my ears” is “constructive.”  It’s actually just vitriolic, petty, and mean.  I find myself wincing at the words coming from some of my colleagues’ mouths or computer keyboards every time someone sings on national television or a YouTube clip or even just a cast recording.  I understand we’re all educated, trained artists with differing opinions, but when you’re watching the Oscars or the Sound of Music Live Broadcast JUST HOPING to see Idina or Carrie crash and burn vocally instead of in support of fellow artists doing something exciting and challenging, it says a lot more about what kind of artist and person YOU are than what kind of artist and person these women are.  Remember when your mother said “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?”  Well, I do, and this whole mentality that it’s okay to rip a person (and one you don’t even know personally) apart simply because you’re “educated,” actually doesn’t make you look educated at all.  It doesn’t take an education to spew icky words.  There is a big difference between being passionate and being poisonous and too many, I fear, are confusing one for the other and veering more into the latter category where this industry is concerned.  It’s becoming an epidemic, unfortunately, and not just in musical theatre.  It’s everywhere: just look at Twitter. Look at comment boards.

I have left musical theatre (for the time being though I occasionally go to an audition or two for something I’m really interested in) in part because I do not wish to have this kind of negativity in my life.  I don’t enjoy it.  I don’t want to be part of a group of people who so eagerly (and at times, gleefully) turn their back on one of their own just for cracking on a note or having an off night instead of tightening ranks around that person, giving them the encouragement to shake it off and hit the stage or audition room the next day or offering REAL constructive feedback to help them improve.  It’s a hard thing to choose to be an artist in an increasingly money-obsessed world, but I can’t help thinking that it’s that much harder when you don’t even have your own artistic community really supporting you the way they should.  I’m a tough girl, always have been, and a little criticism never bothered me, but when it’s so inhumane and malicious, I have to take action.  I have always been one to look for the best in others and especially in art, and I am so disheartened by what I have experienced firsthand and read online.  What I loved about musical theatre is that it always felt like a little happy community, but it doesn’t feel very much that way to me lately, and so I made a decision a little over a year ago to walk away for awhile; to focus my time and talents on other artistic ventures.  And guess what?  I’m a lot happier.  I’ve found people who are genuinely supportive and encouraging, and with more positivity in my life, I feel my own talents have started blossoming in ways they never would have.  I have turned my eyes to writing, to acting, to producing, and discovered that I am equally as passionate about these things and the film and television industry.  It’s amazing what positive energy can do.

I ask that we all look at ourselves as artists and human beings and really evaluate why we are saying these things.  Is it because we are envious of those who have found success in our field?  Is it because we are not secure enough in our own gifts we must attack those of another?  Our first job as artists is to be good human beings and show the world what humanity can be, and it is an ongoing, challenging process; believe me.  The work is never done.  And we all have lots of work to do because no one is perfect, but what a beautiful thing that is.

One of my very favorite recordings of my hero Judy Garland is a number from her Carnegie Hall Concert.  During “You Go to My Head” she completely flubs a lyric.  At Carnegie Hall.  During the biggest concert of her career.  And she’s literally singing nonsense lyrics on the album but she laughs, keeps going, and gets back on track.  That a performer so polished, so revered as Judy, made a mistake we’ve all made a million times is a reminder that she was human just like all of us.  Flaws are reminders of humanity.  I’m glad to know Judy isn’t perfect, because it gives me hope I can someday be as inspirational to someone as she has been to me even with my own flaws.

And since I really DO look for the best in others, I want everyone to prove me wrong.  I hope that if I decide to fully return sometime in the future to musical theatre, I will find a loving, supportive community like the one I first fell in love with.  The one full of awkward kids belting show tunes in their mother’s old clothing because they just love the lights and the music and the magic of theatre.  My mother also used to say, “Play nice,” and I ask that we all try to do that from now on.  Please?

*For an addendum to this essay, please see this.

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42 Comments

  1. I found this post and your blog through a music director sharing this link on FB. This is SO, SO GOOD! I have gotten married and left the City for Texas, but I miss the creativity, and as your blog title so aptly says, “the art of making art”. I audition occasionally for stuff here, and I also have turned to other creative pursuits like writing, blogging and online e-courses in the future. I used to HATE the same stuff you’re talking about here, and I can only imagine how much worse it is with the economic climate the way it is today. I’ve also gained weight b/c of a thyroid condition, which of course, has affected how I’m now hired, and I’m sure that would be even more of a crazy-maker for me now. 🙂 All this to say, BRAVO to you for these important words! I want to share this post with every young (and old) performer I know. I want my blogging and writing platform I have now to be an encouragement to fellow artists of all shapes and sizes for the very reasons you mentioned here. THANK YOU for your courage, your tenacity, your refusal to be a part of the cacophony of gossip and bad energy and (let’s just call it what it often sometimes is) vapid insecurity. Thank you for being a part of the solution and not part of the problem. Cream always rises to the top my dear – I think if you ever return to the musical theatre world, you one day will experience wonderful artistic journeys when the time is right. So glad you are also having them now on your own terms! I blog at allmannerofinspiration.com, and would love to have you guest post or interviewed on my blog sometime. Thanks again for this! 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much for your incredibly kind words. I am beyond overwhelmed at how my post has spread (and continues to spread) over the last 24 hours. I always hope others will find something with which to connect in my writing no matter the topic, but I’m truly bowled over by the enthusiasm for this one. What I hope everyone takes away from it is that kindness spreads equally as fast and far more powerfully than negativity, and we all need to consider if what we’re putting forth into the world is helpful or hurtful. Artists have always been the ones to inspire and innovate change, and it’s my hope that all of us who feel this way will consciously make an effort each day to be beacons of kindness and light and positivity so others will do so as well. The world is hard enough as it is, so why not try to make it a little more encouraging? There are so many in musical theatre for whom this post absolutely does not apply, and they are the ones who keep my love alive, who make the community better. They are the ones I hope to emulate and work with to move others to seek kindness and joy.

      I would be more than happy to do a guest post or interview for your blog sometime! Can’t wait to check it out. Thanks for reading!

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  2. I shared this on my page following a similar rant I went on yesterday about this! I am glad I am not alone in my views and feelings! I think you have hit the nail on the head, I took a break to have children and this year I am coming back to the stage with two incredible women that sing from love and feeling and I can’t tell you how amazing that is! The 4 year break has done me the world of good, I have a genuine love for performing again, instead of being envious of others doing well i am excited about it all, I encourage friends to audition even of its for community theatre just to get their creativity part of them out! There are good people in this world and to be honest they are normally the most amazing on the stage! I’m excited to see if there is a shift in this world as more and more people like you and I fight against it, thank you for this blog! And never give up even if it means playing a tree in a small theatre in the middle of nowhere! 🙂

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    1. First off, congrats on the children AND making the decision to come back! I’m so glad that you are really rediscovering your love for theatre and encouraging others to seek it out too. Taking a break from musical theatre was not an easy decision to make, but like you, it’s really given me different perspectives and opened up my eyes and heart to some skills (like writing and the producing end in addition to acting) that I never had really given as much time and energy to. Not only that, but I myself felt like I was becoming more negative and unhappy, and that’s not the kind of person I am or want to be, so walking away from it has been a godsend for my mental well-being. It’s given me time to work on myself as a person, readjust my attitude, and rediscover why I love theatre (and especially musical theatre) in the first place. I believe when you become a better human being, you also become a better artist, so that’s what I’m trying to do myself and inspire others to do. Too much negativity exists in the world already, and I just won’t add to it anymore. If everyone put forth more kindness and encouragement, I can’t help thinking it might change things drastically for everyone. Thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing mine! Break a leg on your show! 🙂

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  3. Thank you for writing this! I’m going down this similar path as well. I have the biggest love for musical theatre, but once I moved to the city, I just lost some of it. The negativity was just something I didn’t want to be a part of. It came down to not even wanting to sing in my own apartment for fear of judgmental criticism from room mates and to the rest of my apartment building (there are a TON of actors/singers in my building and you can always hear when someone is singing). I’ve since moved on to improv and television/film and I am so much happier now. Like you, it’s something I don’t want to ever give up- but it’s just something I don’t want to be a part of now. Thanks again 🙂

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    1. I’m truly blown away by how many people have responded with “me too!” to what I wrote. What I found after a few months of auditioning was that I was becoming more negative and cynical myself and saying hurtful things, and I realized I was becoming a person I never have been or wanted to be. And so I decided that walking away for a while was the right decision for me because I needed to adjust my OWN attitude and regroup in my own life. Negativity is easily spread, but so just as easily is kindness, and I just feel like if we all can consciously work harder at treating each other with more kindness and consideration in person and online, the world would be a little better off. The majority of the people I know working day in and day out in the industry are these types of individuals: kind, caring, considerate; they are the ones we all need to be more like and help change things from the inside out! 🙂

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  4. I’m sorry you didn’t make it to Broadway. If writing this essay makes you feel better about that, good for you!

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    1. Whether or not I eventually make it to Broadway, what I am seeking to illuminate here is that we all need to be mindful of what it is we put forth into the world and whether or not it is positive and helpful rather than completely tearing someone down. This essay was not written as a complaint but a plea for those of us who are in this business to treat each other with a little more consideration and comeraderie. To remember that we are all doing this because we love it and that we need to respect our fellow artists. If it came off as anything other than that, I apologize. As I stated in my addendum, I love the industry as a whole and do still wish to work with the many wonderful people within it but I chose to leave for a while because I not only wished to explore other things but also because I felt myself becoming a negative, cynical person and needed to reevaluate my own attitude and goals. What I have written certainly does not apply to every single person within the industry or the industry as a whole.

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    2. Why would you write something like that? I can’t tell if you intend to be condescending if I’m trying to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

      I’m not involved in theater and I stumbled on this blog post (which was excellently written) through a friend of a friend. I didn’t get the impression at all from the post that this was about not getting a role.

      Her thoughts on the harm of negativity ring true in a broader sense of humanity, not just within theater circles. It’s far easier to criticize than to produce something and be open and vulnerable to other people’s critiques – and when one person in a circle says, “I thought _______ was enjoyable,” that person also opens himself or herself up to criticism from the rest of the circle. Cynicism seems to have become a measure for superiority in too many areas of our culture, and I don’t believe it’s healthy. If John Donne was accurate in his centuries-old declaration that none of us can be an island completely separated from the rest of the human race, it stands to reason that even a single negative remark, though miniscule in its impact, still serves to hurt us all.

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  5. Thank you for sharing this. I have had similar experiences. I was going to a lot of auditions the past few months, but I haven’t gone to one in over two weeks. I was just done with the whole thing. There’s so much negativity and desperation and that’s not why I decided to do theater. I’ve worked really hard to get to nyc and I graduate college and really this isn’t how I thought it would be. It’s not the rejection that bugs me, because I expected that, but it’s the people I have to surround myself with at these auditions that really gets me down. We make fun of people who do community theater, but you know what? At least they are doing what they love and are having fun doing it. I mean, that’s why we all got into this field right?

    I wish you the best in your future, and I really do hope you are happy and find the success you’re looking for!

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    1. Thank YOU for reading it and responding so enthusiastically to my words. I couldn’t agree more with you. Rejection is always an expected part of the job, and one that doesn’t bother me either. It was that negative energy that was starting to pervade the air and my own mental well-being that caused me to really take a step back and look at things. When I felt myself slipping into those negative thoughts and words, I knew I was becoming a person I didn’t want to be and that I needed to walk away so I could find the love and joy in my life and art. And it was the best thing I’ve done because I have found those things and gained back a lot of the love I have for this business. If only we all can remember that we do this out of love for it (like our friends doing community theatre!) and spread attitudes of graciousness, gratefulness, and kindness to those around us. Thank you so much for YOUR kindness, and I wish you all the best in whatever you choose to do in this life whether it be in the arts or beyond. 🙂

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  6. Reblogged this on Confessions of a Merch Whore and commented:
    This has been floating around Facebook today and, as it turns out, was written by a fellow OCU alumnus. I think it’s incredibly insightful and written from the heart. It very much reflects my feelings on our industry and why I have chosen to leave New York in the hopes of finding a more supportive group of peers elsewhere.

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  7. First of all, great job with this, not only is it heartfelt and honest, but it’s incredibly brave. I have a Bachelor’s degree in acting from Ithaca College and I, too have lost the passion…for now. Not that it is completely off of the table, but I do feel you on this. Good luck with your endeavors.

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    1. Thank you so much. I’m truly humbled and overwhelmed at the response I’ve been getting to this essay, when I truly wrote it with no such expectations whatsoever! I’m just hoping to inject a little more positive energy into the world and this business, because we need it. I hope that you can rekindle your passion or that you find another one of equal measure to that of acting. Whatever you choose to do in this life, I wish good things for you! Keep looking for and spreading your joy with others.

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  8. This expresses so many feelings and thoughts on our current industry that not only I but many of my colleagues share. Through communication and discussion like this is how we can slowly but surely bring about change to this ever evolving and hustle of an industry. As many said above, actors themselves hold so many stigmas about what kind of work other actors are doing or where or with whom they are working with, when the point in the first place is to be happy and fulfilled in whatever creative environment you are able and proud to work in. Hopefully one day these stigmas and judgments within our own community will lessen and great importance will be placed on doing meaningful work with great artistic integrity. Thank you for your post, truer words never spoken.

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    1. Couldn’t agree more. As artists, we will always struggle with self-doubt, but those doubts perhaps could be lessened if we were free to create in a safe, happy space with those who truly support us with kindness. Criticism is a good thing for an artist when it is presented from a place of encouragement rather than dismissal and hurt. I’m just hoping that because my essay has gone so unexpectedly viral it means I am not alone in my quest for more love and kindness within the arts community and the world at large. Thanks for reading and your support! 🙂

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  9. I was one of the pairs of dancing feet you saw in the B’way revival of 42nd St., glad you touched your heart as much as it did mine. This article was on my FB news feed and I have to say, this breaks my heart…I’ve more to say on subject, but have a burning question. You wrote that you “didn’t make your school’s agent showcase”. What does that mean? Is not everyone in the graduating class eligible to perform in the showcase?

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    1. Oh wow! That’s amazing. That means you also danced with one of my professors, Brian Marcum in that show! I loved it. Still one of my favorites of all time. We hold auditions for our school’s agent showcase, and I wasn’t selected after auditioning so I didn’t get an agent showcase in NYC. I am a believer in all things happen the way they’re supposed to, and so my feathers weren’t ruffled by it. I believe I am on the path God intends…whatever that may ultimately be. And it is performers/people like you and Brian who still inspire me and keep my love for music theatre alive. I have met more people like you and less like the negative ones, it is just the negative ones speak so loudly that it can be hard to see past them. I DO truly love musical theatre and the many wonderful, kind people I have met and/or know working in it, and I do plan on returning when I feel the time is right for me. Thank you so much for reaching out! 🙂

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  10. Bravo! Well said. When I was younger and sat in waiting rooms, people were a bit kinder, but not much. People were still more involved in their own interests – and trying to seem better than they might have been – and we didn’t have the technology that exists today. So many young people want to be Broadway stars. If you’re in theatre to make money or be a star, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re in theatre because it’s all that matters to you, then go for it! And remember that New York/Broadway is not the only place to work. I make a living as an actor by working in regional theatre, mostly in Michigan. I consider myself successful because my career is in a field that I love. Thank you for your words. Theatre students need to read them.

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    1. And thank you for YOUR words. I have many friends around the country happily working in regional theaters who have found wonderful, supportive communities in which to use their talents. And obviously, that is true for you, and I am SO glad you have found personal success doing what you love, because that should always be the goal. I have come across more people who are kind here in New York than those who are not, but the ones who are spreading negativity really are permeating everything for everyone else. People thrive in happy work environments (as evidenced by you), and if we can make our own artistic communities a little kinder, they will become happier as a result. I truly believe this. And as a born and raised Midwesterner myself, I love hearing that the arts are thriving and providing plenty of work for those who seek it there! Best wishes for all you’re doing!

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  11. Thank you so much for writing this. You’ve provided a creative boost to me in a time when auditions haven’t been especially fruitful– I was able to do summerstock during one year in college, but I haven’t been able to break in with any summer companies this season. And that doesn’t make me a bad artist, like you. It has told me to focus my talents in other directions, and I think the time is right to start embracing the other aspects of me. Thank you again.

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    1. You’re so welcome! And thank YOU for reading this and having such enthusiasm for it. I don’t believe success is measured by quantity of work but by the quality of your work, and that is especially true for artists. I think the exciting thing about being an artist is that it gives us the opportunity to explore the many sides of who we are if we are brave enough to go outside of our comfort zones. I never thought I would write a play, but I’ve been working on writing my first for the past month. I was asked to produce a benefit cabaret by my school’s alumni association last summer, and that was a new and exciting challenge, and I found that I really enjoyed it as I got to use different facets of my artistic and business skills. You just never know what new talents and skills might be unearthed aside from just acting if you give them time to grow. I am certain you’re going to be successful because you already recognize that keeping yourself open to going in different directions may provide you with new artistic journeys you never even dreamed of. Keep listening to and trusting that intuition. As Julie Andrews said in Sound of Music, “wherever God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” You’ll find that open window (and someone is going to give you an acting job eventually if you keep at it). Good luck and keep in touch if you ever need encouragement! 🙂

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  12. I am so sorry you have found this to be your home in NYC. How sad. What’s the saddest part to me is that those are the people with whom you’ve interacted. It seems, however, that this article needs to make something clear–that the people you are talking about being so mean are jaded, unemployed, non-equity actors. My sister, her boyfriend, and my dearest friends are graduates of a truly top MT school. All of them are working, most of them on Broadway. We all read your blog and were shocked that this is being shared so much by Broadway hopefuls. Mostly because this ISN’T the norm when one is successful in New York. The fact is, as it is in non-theatre worlds, that people who are working and successful aren’t critical of others to the terrible extent you are talking about. It’s the people who are deep down jealous, not working, and jaded who are mean like this. I will say that whenever I have been around non-eq actors who can’t work–they ARE this mean, but it’s because they’re jealous, it’s not because this is how actors treat each other in the theatre world. Your post is interesting, but to say this is the norm across NYC actors is false. I bet money the people who you see being so hateful are those who aren’t working and/or can’t get their equity card.

    I’m glad you found something better with which to occupy your time, because it sounds like you need new friends, too.

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    1. My words certainly don’t apply to the majority of those working on Broadway or the industry as a whole. I know many individuals working in the Broadway community like your sister, her boyfriend, and your friends who are kind, courteous, wonderful people whose positivity and graciousness shine through all they do. This post was intended to be a reminder to all of us to be kinder to each other (and it definitely applies more to those of us on the slightly lower ranks of the acting spectrum as you mentioned). It’s my hope that we all try to adopt attitudes of encouragement and support rather than hurtful words. I am lucky to have a great group of friends (actors and the like) who share these attributes and are supportive. If my words have offended anyone, I apologize, because I have nothing but the deepest respect for those hard-working individuals who have found personal success and promote goodwill. And I wish nothing but the best for all those who seek to work or are working in this business.

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  13. So true, and you and I have several parallels as I to went to school for Musical Theater only to leave it because of the hateful and negative environment of a community that finds it so difficult to support each other. I’ve found other passions such as church music and teaching musical theater at the High School level because I want to be around people who have and over abundance of joy overflowing from their very soul and not hate that lashes out on anything that threatens or addresses their own insecurities. Also, it is still very disturbing that musical theater, film, and TV, in general, still does not have enough work for minority actors. Yes, I see the minority actors/actresses in the company of any given show but never as the principal except in the few shows that are ethnic specific. It’s just not relevant to the general American public…But it could be!!!

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    1. Totally agree about there not being enough work for minority actors and women within the business. Hollywood always acts so surprised when a film with a mainly ethnic cast does overwhelmingly great at the box office, but it’s like, DUH OF COURSE IT DOES because finally those audiences are seeing people who look like them represented onscreen. They have struggles and hopes and fall in love too…it’s not just the caucasian male who does so. People need art to process things going on in their own lives, so they want to see people who look like them in film, TV, theatre, etc. I hope that we can move this business towards that.

      Thanks for reaching out and your support! Best of luck in your teaching! Artists need encouraging teachers! 🙂

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  14. Hello
    This was shared and shared and then shard again by me.
    This is a fantastic honest view of not just the New York scene but the whole Musical theatre world!
    I myself spent two years studying and auditioning and felt a community at the start, then it did dramatically change.
    Same here in England, I use to love auditioning and feeling supported and welcomed ( obviously you got the odd stage school click and bitchy look) But 6 years have past , I’m back from New York and it’s just a horrid, toxic environment.
    There is no support, no words exchanged, not even a acknowledgement of hello ( hello , we are all here in the cold / rain stood outside in a line) it’s just iPod on , staring at your Starbucks for hours, clock watching. Which to me makes the whole ‘experience’ exhausting, boring and personally more nerve wracking. It’s like we have to not just audition and impress the casting directors but all the equal ( I say equal because no matter what you have done at the moment of this audition we are all equal ! ) persons there in the audition holding room/ line .
    This is a fantastic piece and very gutsy to take a year off and be proud to say it.
    This has actually really made a impact on me as the grind of London auditions is a downer and there is only so many negative days one can take.
    Thankyou and keep performing even if it is in your bedroom with a hairbrush like we ALL do !

    Reply

    1. Wow! I can’t believe this has made it all the way across the pond to the U.K.! You’re so right. Auditioning is definitely mentally exhausting on many levels, but is made worse when not everyone is there in a spirit of camaraderie, community, and a genuine goodwill towards their fellow artists. It’s a lot of sitting around and waiting (especially if you are non-union), and wouldn’t it be just a little more pleasant if everyone were more encouraging and positive? I think we’d see a lot more happiness across the board if that could be achieved. Thank you so much for your supportive words. I wish you great success in your art in London and beyond! Cheers! 🙂

      Reply

  15. AWESOME article! I feel exactly the same way! Thank you so much for this and I am one of those performers that is also genuinely happy for my peers when they are doing well, because I try to spread love at all times and live that message. God bless you. 🙂

    Reply

    1. Oh thank you so much! I too am genuinely thrilled for my friends when they’re doing cool things (like one of my friends is in the NY Phil Sweeney Todd with Emma Thompson right now, and I’m just in awe), because it’s always awesome seeing those I know and love doing what makes them happy. It inspires me to keep doing what I love and spreading my joy to others, and I know when I find my own successes, they’ll be there to support me as I have them. The world needs more love and kindness, and I try to put forth those things into the world. God bless YOU too! 🙂

      Reply

  16. Thank you for this brave, heart-felt post. I support you completely and am ashamed and aghast at the petty behavior of many of the people you describe. But just remember: for people to be kind, considerate and supportive of each other, they first have to be grown-up and mature, and it has nothing to do with age. Good luck to you and I hope you get the lead in the next musical you audition for!

    Reply

    1. Oh thank you so much! Yes, unfortunately, I think much of this behavior can be attributed to a lack of maturity and not being able to see past the end of their nose (as Mary Poppins would say). I would also say that perhaps it is a result of not being held accountable for that kind of behavior. I only hope that because this has been shared so frequently (which I’m still in disbelief but delight over!) people want things to change and will work towards being more kind, considerate, and encouraging and hold others accountable. Thanks again for the kind words of support! Cheers!

      Reply

  17. Emmylane, I think you know that you are a multi-talented young woman, and I hope you know that “Every exit is an entry somewhere else.” (Tom Stoppard) Keep up the good work.

    Reply

  18. I enjoy your post, and I must say I’m shocked at how much negativity you’ve experienced and how it’s affected you. That said, I hope it doesn’t stop you from pursuing your bliss.

    Reply

  19. Thank you. Just fell upon this article while looking for help in making my decision whether or not to say goodbye to Equity and turn in my card. The area I currently live does not have enough equity work. On the flip side here there are so many well regarded non equity theatre companies and amazingly talented non union actors who thrive here. I want to do what I love without restrictions. I have performed regionally and on the West End. It was wonderful. I am grateful. But my path has taken a new direction and need to know in my heart that saying goodbye to my union does not diminish my talent nor delete my past accomplishments. I think I am ready to open the door and step through. Thank you again.

    Reply

    1. Oh gosh. Thanks. I wish you the very best of luck in whatever path you decide to take. I don’t believe union status should be the defining component of a person’s talent or worth in this industry at all; to me, it’s about who you are and what you bring (or have brought) to the table. And your heart has to be in it. Your heart has to be in whatever it is you decide to do, because otherwise, it’s just not worth it. You know? The Mother Abbess in Sound of Music said it best, “You have to look for your life.” I’m sure you’ll find it! 🙂

      Reply

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