As you may know, I’m casting right now!
My team and I are sooo excited, ‘cause we’ve been talking about this project for a long time. The casting call ends this Saturday, and we’re super pumped to get the ball rolling!
But...as I thought about our excitement, I realized that not everyone’s excited.
There are those who are about to audition or are still on the fence about auditioning for us. I imagine they've got lots of emotions going on right now.
Um, yeah...Pagnia, have you forgotten already about your fear of auditions?
It’s true. Auditioning is one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done to reach for my dreams. Honestly, I try to stay away from it as much as possible...and that breaks my heart as much as it makes me happy to read.
On August 8th, 2008, I auditioned for American Idol.
Since the early days of Kelly Clarkson, I’ve been glued to that show. Every time I watched it, I'd feel my heart on that stage. I wanted to be on that stage.
I had as much fear as excitement in my gut when I flew out to Kansas City, Kansas that hot, summer day. Thank goodness, I wasn’t alone. My sister, Nancy voluntarily flew out from the east coast to support me in my first American Idol audition. (Oh, how I love her so.)
The day before auditions, we grabbed our audition tickets and scouted the venue. There were gates set up and folks in golf cars roaming the parking lot. Nothing unusual, nothing that said tens of thousands of people will be flocking here tomorrow. It wasn’t daunting, so I didn’t think or feel much.
We grabbed dinner down the road from our hotel (where I would learn that having Cheesecake Factory for four days in a row isn’t as good as it sounds) and then headed to bed.
2:00 AM. Day of audition.
I was groggy and disoriented, but I had to get up. No time to waste. Got dressed. Did my vocal warm-ups. Got on the bus. Walked to the audition venue.
Before dawn could even break, there was already a line.
While in line, I watched the sun rise, read a book or two, listened to my iPod, heard people rehearse, saw camera crews getting shots of the ‘wild ones,’ and waited patiently. After four hours, we were finally in the arena.
And I thought waiting in line was challenging.
You see, my nerves are pretty quiet in the hours before doing something as big as an audition. But once I realize that this is it, this is the place I’m going to audition, this is where I’m going to do what I came here to do...my heart starts pounding.
Every part of my body was ringing an alarm...but my heart never told me to leave.
I got up from my seat. I took a break. I watched hundreds of others rehearse in the hallways, in the bathroom, and in groups. I was nervous - so many talented, passionate people here.
But I didn't want to leave.
Before we could even audition, the production team had the entire place singing. Imagine thousands of people singing the same song over and over again. We sung Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, & Delivered,” and they were pretty tough on us. Those shots needed to be perfect.
At last, my section was called down to the main floor where twelve different stations greeted us. Each station was separated by a black curtain with 3-4 judges sitting at a table. We didn’t know who they were, but they certainly didn't look like Simon, Paula, or Randy.
Separated into groups of four, we were told we each had 30 seconds to make an impression.
At last, it was my turn. I was first to go. I quickly ran up to the judges and showed them pictures of my music experience. They didn't say much. I returned to my spot.
I belt out the toughest part of a Martina McBride song while trying not to think that the craziest audition ever is happening. I can't remember the judges’ expressions or even if they reacted to me, but I didn’t let that phase me.
I stepped back & listened to the other three. A young man charismatically sung a Disney song from Hercules. A woman on the other end sounded just like Jennifer Hudson.
None of us got a Golden Ticket.
I remember looking up to Nancy and gesturing for her to meet me outside by the “big door." Earlier in our seats they told us the "big door" is where those who don't get a Golden Ticket must exit. At that time, I didn't know how I would feel after my audition if I had to walk through that door. Of course, I didn't want to. No one did.
But as I walked through that door, I wasn’t upset or happy. I didn’t know what to feel.
That evening, Nancy and I probably ended up eating at Cheesecake Factory, talking about my experience, and planning for the future. (And oh did we plan!)
Looking back, despite the outcome of my American Idol audition, I’m grateful. Auditions can leave you feeling like a failure, but as my good mentor, Oprah Winfrey once said:
“You will at some point fall. And when you do, I want you to know this, remember this: there is no such thing as failure; failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”
I couldn't agree more.
That audition wasn’t my last, and I learned just how much I wanted to reach my dreams. Nearly ten years since that audition, I’m still at it. That heart of mine, I tell ya.
So for those of you who are on the fence about auditioning for me & my team or anyone who's on the fence to taking a leap of faith, know that you have absolutely nothing to lose. If you care about what you’re auditioning for or if you know what that leap can do for you, just jump.
Our casting call ends on Saturday. If you or someone you know may be interested, let us know today. I can’t wait to see your auditions this week!
IT'S YOUR TURN! Have you ever auditioned or taken a leap of faith on a special opportunity? What was your takeaway? Please leave your comment below. I love hearing from you!
Until next time…