Monday, October 25, 2010

The "America's Got Talent" Los Angeles Audition Experience

The tail of my audition sticker - and the mountain of audition paperwork.
Cattle Call - n. Informal

An audition in which a large number of often inexperienced actors or performers try out.

Yesterday, I auditioned for America's Got Talent. I sang Black Velvet for my 90 second audition in front of 5 judges. That was around 2:30pm.

I had been awake since 4am.

I had been standing since 8am.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

That was an experience in and of itself. If you've never been to Hollywood or, like me, have spent limited time there, you might not realize that it's not a glamorous place at all. While it houses a life long dream of mine (to sing inside the most acoustically correct building ever built - Walt Disney Symphony Hall), it's far from a place I'd want to live. While the inside of the Millenium Biltmore is breath taking (sorry - no photography allowed at that point due to it being a live set, but if you watch the show, you'll see some of it I'm sure), it's located in an area with lots of run down shops - right beside million dollar stores. (I forgot where I parked- so I ended up walking around for about an hour after the audition and discovered just how odd this place is.)

Some of the more unusual talents I spotted were Neil Diamond impersonators, Micheal Jackson impersonators, and one that took my attention more than others.

See, once I finally made it to the start of the line, I lined up for a bag check and metal detector check by security. And then I lined up to enter the hotel. (This is when photography and videography was prohibited. Sorry folks!) Then I lined up to have my paperwork reviewed. Finally, I was let into a huge ballroom, known as the "holding room".  When I first entered the holding room, my impression was, "This is the coolest place ever!" Music was pumping at one end of the ballroom. The cameras were rolling. Peoples were dancing, screaming, standing on chairs... At first I thought, "What a great way to keep everyone entertained and to keep their energy up!" Well, it turned out the atmosphere changed after a few minutes. Once the filming was done. The music stopped. Cameras still rolled, but they followed around certain auditioners, with a director advising them to pace, practice, appear nervous, etc. However, this was in stark contrast to the actual atmosphere. Folks were chatting (I met 2 other soloists and chatted it up with them while I decided on a song - that's right, I didn't know what I was going to sing until I got there) and generally there was very little obvious "nerves" floating around. (I'm sure waiting outside the hotel for over an hour left most people too tired or too excited to see a bathroom to be nervous. God knows I be-lined it to the ladies room after all that time in line!) Though I know there is very little "reality" in reality TV, I was surprised to see so much coaching. Nearly everyone filmed was coached by a director walking around. Amazing...

Anyway, after several hours in the holding room, I was called up, with 9 other singers, to be lead to the conference room area. Where we waited some more...

Finally entering into the room, we met the judges. There was a 5 person panel to sing to in a room hardly larger than my condo's living room. My competition? Well, there were 2 opera singers (well trained that sounded great), 1 R&B singer (who was dressed like a rap star, but did Back at One by Brian McKnight really well), and the rest were pretty much amatures. The judges were funny. They made us all laugh, put us at ease, and made the audition a very positive experience. After I heard a few people do show tunes, contemporary music, and opera, I settled on classic rock - Black Velvet (yeah, I didn't know what I was going to sing until I introduced myself). I had a few things prepared, but wanted the judges to remember me, so I gave them something different. (I also wanted to stand out, which is why I choose to wear red instead of the usual black dress).

Audition face!

The 60 seconds of Black Velvet I sang was met with great applause and lots of smiles all around. Several of my fellow singers stopped by to compliment me on their way out (which felt amazing). I actually felt really confident with my audition over all and felt I presented myself well. It's new for me to leave an audition feeling like there was nothing I could have done better. My eye contact was solid. My nerves? Well under control. (In case you're new to my blog - I'm one performer who HATES auditioning.)

This was probably the most positive audition experience I've ever had.

"So?! Did you make it?!"
 The answer is - I don't know, yet. They will do call backs in about a month. This was just the first cut. Then there will be a second cut. The 3rd cut (I'm lead to believe) is in front of the celebrity judges on TV. The show doesn't start shooting until June of 2011, so we'll see how things go.

"But you think you made it?!"
No. That doesn't mean that I didn't totally nail/rock the audition though. Here is the harsh reality of this show: On October 23rd, 2010 (the day before my audition), the judges say 1000 singers. 98% of their auditioners are singers this year.  However, AGT (America's Got Talent) is supposed to be a variety show, so they can't put everyone who nails their audition on. They still have more cities to hit for their auditions. So realistically, yes, I think I did a great job and I'm, for the first time ever, proud of my audition without any real critisim. But I'm also completely at peace with not making it on the show.

To round out the day - I spent the long drive home with a raging "audition hangover". I suppose this is due to the energy expended (emotional, mental, and otherwise) and the fact that I rarely perform on a full stomach. I hadn't brought any snacks and by the time I left the audition, it was about 2:45-3pm, and I hadn't eaten since about 5am. I'd had some water, but couldn't be running to the bathroom and miss my call, so even that was moderate to low. I stopped by a Starbucks (while I was lost and looking for my car afterwards), yet I'm fairly sure the caffine and sugar of my Pumpkin Spice Latte just proved to dehydrate me more. But at least I was awake!

Dehydration + hunger + exhaustion = rest stop break on the way home

Post audition rest break

I'm glad I went through with it and got another audition under my belt - and a window into a world I can't wait to work in.


  1. Hi there! I also auditioned and drove up from San Diego. I heard differently about callbacks though: they told me the second round would be the celebrity judges round and it wouldn't happen until April. Acts that made it through to that round would be notified before the end of March. Good luck!

  2. Can't wait to hear.

  3. Thank you so much for posting your experience!! I'm going to the Chicago auditions this week. I haven't made a final decision on a song yet either, so I was happy to hear that I'm not the only! It's amazing how many singers are auditioning this year. I've sang in choirs and had vocal training, but I know there are many singers better than myself. :)

    I've been doing a LOT of research on the audition process so I can be prepared, and your post is by far the most informative. So again, thank you for posting.

    I wish you the best of luck, and I hope we'll see you on the show!