Hello. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Carol. For those who do, I want much more than this provincial life.
For my March Bucket List, I’ve decided to audition for a part at Disney World! I’m a big fan of Disney movies, bordering on obsessed, so I thought I’d might as well give it a shot. I’ve always wanted to work at Disney as a character, but I was too afraid of rejection. But this year is different, as you already know, so I’m finally going to audition for Disney!
Earlier in March, I went onto Disney Auditions Website and looked at what auditions were being offered this month. As I scrolled down the list for auditions near me, I saw a casting call for Belle in the Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage show at the park formerly known as MGM Studios (It will never be Hollywood Studios. I’m sorry, it just won’t). Now, I have history with this show. When I was younger, my family would go to Disney at least once a year, like most families with Disney-crazy kids. My favorite part of the trip was going to see the Beauty and the Beast show (as well as meeting the characters, the Snow White ride, and eating Mickey-shaped food). There is an old home video of a 3 or 4-year-old Carol B during one such trip where I’m sitting on my Mom’s lap, singing as loud as my little voice could go to the final “Beauty and the Beast”. The whole show was a magical experience for a 3-year-old Disney fanatic. So when I saw that Disney was holding auditions for Belle, I knew it was meant to be.
The requirements for Belle were she had to be between 5’4″ and 5’7″, had to sing and act like an 18-20 year old, and you had to look like Belle. That means type casting. Guess who is 5’6″, can sing and act, AND kinda looks like Belle? C’est moi!
For the first fews days of March, I was in the mindset that I would go to the audition and just see how far I would go (Moana reference, you’re welcome. [OMG I DID IT AGAIN AND DIDN’T EVEN REALIZE IT!!]). I didn’t expect to go too far in the type casting portion of the audition, but I thought I’d try anyway for the experience of auditioning for Disney. Because it’s Disney… and it gave me an excuse to go to Disney World. However, as the day got closer, my mentality changed from “Let’s do it for fun,” to “I’m doing this to live my childhood dream!” to “It’s my dream AND a job!!” My enthusiasm went from 0 to 100 really quickly.
The whole week prior to the audition, all I could focus on was Disney. I watched YouTubevideos of the Beauty and the Beast show, strictly listened to Disney music, I read some blogs about other Disney Audition experiences, and saw the new Beauty and the Beast movie TWICE. I got into character as much as I could while trying to remain somewhat normal. I warmed up my voice on the way to work, and practiced my audition pieces on the way home and in my room at night before going to bed. I was in the zone. Come Friday (3 days before the audition) I had convinced myself that I was the best person for that part and that I was going to get it, throwing all logic and reason out the window. It’s ok to be confident for an audition, but when you stop thinking about the alternative ending (not getting the part at all), you set yourself up for some major heartbreak.
This Disney audition had a strange way of making me self conscious about my body. I practiced smiling in the bathroom to check if I had a Belle-worthy smile. I pushed myself extra hard on my Couch to 5K routine in order to slim down a bit. I only drank smoothies for breakfast and avoided excess sugar and carbs for the same reason. I questioned whether my freckles would lose the spot for me, or my bushy eyebrows, or the shape of my nose, or even my eye color!Everything I used to love about myself was suddenly put into question because it didn’t seem Belle enough. To say I was nervous about the type casting portion of the audition would be a MASSIVE understatement. I know I can sing, but the one thing I can’t change could lose me the role of a lifetime: my appearance.
Sunday night, I pampered myself to the best version of me. I washed, shaved, exfoliated, moisturized, and all. My outfit was planned for the following day (black leggings, black and white striped shirt, pink flats), and I went to bed as early as my energized mind would let me. Everything was going to be great… at least I hoped so.
Monday morning came around, and I was a nervous wreck. I did the vocal warm ups I had been practicing all week, got dressed, put on my usual daily make-up, and styled my hair away from my face. My Dad and I took off work for the day so we could drive up to Orlando together. When we finally got to the Animal Kingdom Rehearsal Facility, it was about 12pm
(two hours before the audition started). My Dad dropped me off at the front and went off to go play golf. From there on out, I was on my own. I walked into the red Disney Auditions door and saw maybe 30 or so girls waiting in line for the doors to open. None of them were dressed as casually as I was.
Nice floral dresses, professional headshots, beautiful theatre make-up, hair curled/ straightened, and heels. These girls looked like the stereotypical theatre girl (not that that is a bad thing). I was definitely intimidated. I wasn’t comfortable speaking with anyone, so I kept to myself and just smiled as girls went by me. I stood at the end of the hallway, furthest from the rehearsal room and waited until 12:30, when they opened the doors for sign in.
I was one of the first girls to enter Rehearsal Room 6. We were lined up along the edge of the rehearsal room and were introduced to Greg. He was a nice Southern man who was there to help us sign in. He explained what characters they were auditioning to fill (Belle and Casey from the Disney Junior Show) and the height requirements. He said those who are auditioning for Belle must pass a type casting audition before they sing for the casting directors. So you could have the best voice in the world, but if you don’t look like the character they are looking for, tough luck. Casey did not need to be type cast because she wasn’t an iconic Disney Princess, so those auditioning for her went straight to the singing portion of the audition. I could have auditioned for her, but I’m too tall. Darn.
When I walked up to the sign in table, I told Greg my height, and he gave me a sticker with 54 on it, and asked me to sign in on an iPad. Afterward, it was the waiting game. I didn’t bring anything but my phone as means of entertainment because I didn’t think I would need it. My phone was previously used for directions so the battery was at 50% when I went in. I needed to be frugal with my phone usage. Most of the time, I spent looking around the room at the other girls, sizing up the competition. I felt terrible because lots of the other girls were doing the same exact thing to me. It’s cutthroat in there, I swear. I hated myself for judging these total strangers, but my mindset was “This is my part, GRRRRR!!!” and there was no way to turn it off. To avoid the roaming eyes, I resorted to staring at my music and humming to myself. After an hour and a half, 200+ theatre girls in dresses and crazy make-up were signed in ready to audition for one of two parts. I definitely wasn’t expecting so many girls to come out for this audition! It was probably because of the new movie that just came out. Everyone had the same idea as I did when they saw the movie: I want to be her.
It came time to do the type casting audition. My nerves were on FIRE! The worst part about the audition process was starting. Greg had the girls with numbers between 30 and 80 (that’s me!) enter another large rehearsal room to be judged. We were placed in 5 rows of 10 in front of 2 casting directors. They introduced themselves and mentioned that they would be looking for very specific qualities that match Belle. They turned on some Disney Mania version of “Can You Feel The Love Tonight?”, and looked at each row one by one. It was probably the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced. It felt like I was a prize cow on display waiting to be judged at the State Fair. I smiled the entire time (as you should always do at an audition), and when it was my row’s turn to be checked, I looked at myself in the mirror in front of me and instantly thought “I’m not going to get it… that smile is not a Belle smile. The girls next to you are so much skinnier. You look plain compared to everyone else. Why would they choose you?” It took maybe 15 seconds for the casting directors to move on to the next row. I was hopeful, but expecting the worst.
The song hadn’t even ended when the directors announced the numbers that would move on to the next stage. “41, 46, and… *PLEASE SAY 54, PLEASE SAY 54!!!* 51.” If there was an x-ray on my chest at that moment, you would have been able to see my heart stop beating, then drop to the floor. I was devastated. I wasn’t Belle enough. I kept thinking, “If they just heard me sing, maybe I could change their minds.” but that was it. Out of the 50 girls in my group, only 3 survived to the next round. They didn’t ask for my resume, they didn’t ask for me to sing. Done.
I cried the whole way home, and the whole night until I fell asleep, then a little bit the next morning. I was inconsolable. It’s a terrible feeling to be rejected because of something you can’t change. If they had turned me away because of my singing or my acting, I could have gone home, worked on it to become better, than auditioned again in a couple months. But that wasn’t the case today. There is no possible way I can change how I look. I will never have a successful Belle audition. My dream had been crushed, hastily put back together with Elmer’s glue only to be smashed into little pieces by a hammer, then a jackhammer, then a chainsaw, until it was finally buried in a sewer somewhere far, far away.
Looking back, I could have handled my rejection better, but I was so convinced I would get the part that I forgot it was possible for me to NOT get it. After a good run, some time to think, and a bit of writing, I’m finally ok with what happened. Sure it still hurts that I may never be a Disney Princess, but there are other singing parts at Disney. I’ll just audition for those, where I KNOW they will give me a chance to sing.
My tips for a Disney audition:
If you are thinking of auditioning for Disney (singing of not), here are a few things I wish I had known before going to Orlando.
What to bring:
Resume/CV and a recent headshot: Don’t worry if your entertainment resume isn’t the most diverse or full. White space is ok. They just want to see your experience and training. I also put a mini profile on the top of my resume with my age, height, eye color, and hair color for them to reference whenever. For the headshot, I just used a nice picture I had from a year ago. I haven’t changed that much and I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on a headshot, so I cropped an old picture and called it quits. Lots of girls had headshots in Macy’s or JC Penny’s envelopes (couldn’t tell which), so if you are in need of one, there are cheap options out there.
Audition sheet music: The Disney Auditions website asks that you prepare 16 bars/measures from two songs of contrasting styles. Pick something that is in your range, and if it’s not, find someone who can transpose it into a comfortable range (Thanks, Molly ^_^). I chose two songs that I thought worked well with my voice and were easy to act out for the directors. The songs resembled Belle’s personality and situation, so I chose them to show my shy side and my energetic “I want much more that this provincial life” side. I didn’t want a song from the actual show because I was worried so many other girls would choose that, and I wanted to give some variety to the directors.
Coming from someone who has been to plenty of singing auditions, organize your music so it is easier for your accompanist to read. They are sight-reading some hard music, for crying out loud. Invest in a 3-ringed binder and some sheet protectors. Photo copy the pages you will need for your audition and organize them so the first page is on the left side and the second page is on the right. That way, the accompanist doesn’t have to flip too many pages. P.S. I brought the original songbooks with me as well, just in case.
Book/ reading material: There is a lot of waiting. It’s best to be prepared with something to make the time pass (and get your mind off the nerves). Or you can just talk to people. Theatre kids are very open and love to talk to new people. Just find a group, introduce yourself, and they will do the rest. If you are an introvert like me, a book is the best way to go.
Portable charger: In the rehearsal room, there are no phone plugs. If there are, they were hijacked by other girls. I had to run outside the room and risk missing important information to charge my phone.
Snack: You never know how long an audition could take. Bring a light snack to eat outside of the rehearsal room while you wait.
What to wear:
Be comfortable!!! Lots of girls were in nice dresses, heels, and full theatre make-up. A couple were in jeans, leggings, T-shirts, and little to no make-up (me being one of them). Whatever makes you feel like yourself should be your outfit of choice. If you are looking to stand out, good luck. So is everyone else! Your outfit won’t matter in the long run. Make an impression with your personality. Had I gotten through to the singing portion, I was prepared to walk in speaking French to the casting directors! If you perform better in a dress and heels, do it! If you prefer yoga pants and a nice top, great! You do you. Whatever you do, DO NOT dress as the character you want! No Disney Bounding or Halloween costume here. Try to be a bit professional.
On another note, if you are going through a type casting audition, casting directors will mostly be looking at your body type and facial structure. I suggest wearing something semi form-fitting, hair out of your face, and minimal make-up. Casting directors want to be able to mold you into the character they need, so simplicity is best. Let your natural beauty shine through!
If you are thinking about auditioning for a Disney face character, I’d suggest going out with friend the night before and have everyone tell you how beautiful and amazing you are (if they are your real friends, they will do that without you having to prompt them. THANKS ACAPHILIACS FAMILY AND MOLLIE!!) This audition process makes you really self conscious and doubtful about everything you like about yourself. You need to remember that the way you see yourself is not how everyone else sees you. You may not look the part you want, but you are still a princess to someone.
With that being said, don’t take the type casting personally. They aren’t judging how beautiful or handsome you are. They are looking for a VERY specific face and body for an iconic character, which a very small number of people fit into. It’s not you, I promise. It sucks that the audition info isn’t more specific about the type of person they are looking for, but that’s Disney. Their task to find that small percentage of perfect look-a-likes is tough. They don’t like turning away people as much as you don’t like being turned away. Just remember: the millions of families that come to Disney are looking for perfection, and so must the casting directors.
Would I audition for Disney again after being turned away and going into a mini depression? Hell yes!! It’s still a dream to work at Disney. Just because I don’t look like Belle, doesn’t mean I don’t look like Snow White, or Cinderella, or Aurora, or Merida…
*fade out as Carol keeps naming a bunch of Disney characters*
Until next month,
If you are thinking of auditioning for Disney or already finished an audition, please comment below! I’d love to hear from you and what you thought of the experience.