I never thought I would be in this position. Going to Tisch for Musical Theatre has long been one of my dreams. I remember being in middle school doing college planning curriculum and putting NYU as my top choice. I had always planned to audition regardless of whether or not I thought I was “good enough” to get in. Senior year came faster than expected and I didn’t audition. Something held me back. Looking back now the only possible thing it could have been was fear of rejection. I have experienced my share of rejection in my craft. Actually, most of the time growing up, I didn’t get the part. From 3rd grade to Senior year of high school, I was only cast as a lead three times. That didn’t change the fact that I loved what I was doing and dreamed of doing it my whole life, but I did let it do something to me I shouldn’t have: I let the rejection destroy my confidence in my performing ability. That confidence slowly began to redevelop my Senior year when I had a series of high points (college acceptances into well-known programs, bookings through my agent, a top vocalist award at a festival, and two really good parts in shows). This past year at Sewanee was a continuation of that confidence boost; I was poured into by professors and really genuinely caring people. I guess I had acquired enough “oomph” back in me to consider all of my options. In January I decided to apply to Tisch. I filled out the application with a “what do I have to lose” attitude and scheduled my audition for April. I almost didn’t go. I was really stressed at school with finals, a show and a long list of to-dos. I called my mom and asked her to cancel my flight. She said something I didn’t expect her to say…”no.” She said, “Karissa, you have wanted this your whole life. You’re going. If I have to come up that mountain and pack your things for you, you’re going. I know you can do this. You don’t know you can’t unless you at least try. You also won’t know you can if you don’t try.” So I packed my things, turned in a paper, took a test in advance and left. When we got to New York, I had no nerves whatsoever. I ate pizza the night before the big day, which I normally never ever do within 24 hours of an audition. I prayed a simple prayer: “Lord I pray You will open the doors You want open, and close the ones You don’t want open. Please help me to be the best I can be at this audition. If I get in and if I don’t it’s for Your glory.” Mom added in probably the most important part, “…and please give her favor.”
The morning of the audition it was 55 degrees. Mom and I left the hotel almost 2 hours early to find people walking outside in coats. I was wearing flip flops, a sleeveless yellow dress and had my hair in a high, high, high ponytail. On our way to the campus it started pouring rain. We only had one umbrella that she insisted I take to cover my resumes and headshots and to prevent my Ariana Grande hair from getting wet. 5 minutes into our walk, the umbrella broke, I tried to hail a cab which turned out to be a Stanley Steamer Carpet Cleaner car, and all we could do was laugh. I was about to go into possibly the most important audition I had ever been to… soaking wet and with muddy legs. My outward appearance was faaaaaarrrrrrr from audition ready, but my heart was full of joy. We got to the corner of a street and finally hailed a taxi. The lady driver ran up on the sidewalk as she attempted to pull over to pick us up and had a cow when I tried to get in with my hot tea and honey, a pre-audition ritual. Again all Mom and I could do was laugh. She dropped us off two blocks from the Kimmel Center, where the audition was taking place, because the road was blocked off. We ran in at the NYU Law School to get directions, and finally, finally arrived at the building. I rushed into the restroom to wipe the mud off of my legs and change into my bright pink heels that have become a staple for me on audition days. Mom took my dance call clothes and situated them as I went to sign in. Upon stapling my headshot, resumes and audition form, I realized I had a few minor setbacks… Problem #1: I had a Shakespeare monologue, they wanted a contemporary one. I panicked a bit, Mom calmed me and reminded me I had a huge monologue from my Fall semester’s play. Problem #2: I needed a refresher, so I posted in the GroupMe from the show asking if anyone had a script near them. Problem #3: I was starting off in monologues so I needed it ASAP. One of many lessons I learned on this particular audition was that with every problem, there is always a solution. One of my castmates forwarded me the script and I reviewed it for a good 3 minutes before going into the audition room. After monologues, I sang, and then I changed for the dance call in a restroom where no one else was, I went out and none of the other people auditioning were there. I ran up and down the halls, took the elevator throughout the next few floors, and finally found my way to the dance studio. About 10 minutes later the group showed up, I did a few pirouettes, a combo and as simple as that, it was all over. There was no 8 hour wait time, an overwhelming amount of people, or stress. It was the craziest day, and I had a ball during every minute of it. I have come to realize that every time my Mom says she has a strong feeling I need to do something, I should do it (Mom: this is me saying you’re always right).
The decision I am facing right now is a big one. I am looking at leaving a place I have grown to love and people whom I truly care about to possibly follow a dream I’ve had for years. Among many other factors, money will play a part. NYU is notorious for not giving aid; however, through this whole process I’m even more confident in saying you can never ever limit the power of God. I was very skeptical that I would get in at Tisch period, but for Musical Theatre, I would never have believed it.
The past three days have yielded time to think. I’ve come to these conclusions:
- Whether I go to Tisch or not, getting in was a huge confidence boost.
- I wish I could’ve told myself 2 1/2 years ago that I would have been offered a spot in the New Studio on Broadway, because that would’ve guaranteed I wouldn’t have hit the lows I hit when I experienced rejection.
- Rejection, in anything, should be fuel to keep working towards a goal. Keep dancing, keep acting, keep singing, keep dreaming.
- It’s ok to dream big.
Today I was thinking about how good of a Father I have. Psalms 37:4 says, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Being accepted at Tisch for musical theatre was one of those desires. He gave that to me. Regardless of if I end up migrating North, or staying in Tennessee, I know that I will be happy, simply because He knows best. His plan is far greater than mine. I have been overwhelmed with the support and encouragement I’ve received from everyone. Thanks to you all for dreaming a little dream with me!
And now I continue to wait…