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My Not-So-Secret Way of Getting Seen at EPAs as a Non-Eq

June 8, 2011

I really admire those of you dedicated non-union actors who get up at the crack of dawn to trudge to the Equity building in all types of weather and with all types of outfit possibilities and being prepared for all different sorts of audition scenarios, only to sit in the hallway outside the actual lounge for hours at a time, unable to use the bathroom in the building and with chances running pretty high that you’re not going to even get to audition that day.

I really do admire you (especially those of you smart enough to use the new site Audition Update to your advantage!). In fact, I really wanted to be you! I went to a few EPAs at the Equity building and Ripley-Grier early in the morning, put my name down on the list, and waited patiently to be seen all day. Only to not get seen. And get really bummed about it. And find it pretty hard to work up the motivation to go through all of the trouble of getting prepared, waking up crazy early, and dragging myself to an audition that I probably wouldn’t get to actually audition at.

For those of you who do manage to get cast and get your Equity card this way, bravo. I mean that. But it just wasn’t for me. I decided that I’d rather focus on auditioning for the things that were accessible to me and on getting an agent to submit me for appointments for things.

But then I saw an EPA notice on Playbill that was being held way out in New Jersey, about a 90-minute train ride from Penn Station. It occurred to me that maybe fewer people would be interested in making that kind of a trip, and so I might have a chance of getting seen. They were asking for emails to request audition appointments, so I shot one off, thinking it was at least worth a shot to ask. And, lo and behold, they emailed me right back with a time slot! I was shocked. And excited! I was actually going to get to audition at an EPA!

So I took the NJ Transit train alllll the way out to Long Branch (okay, it’s not that far, but when you’re a spoiled New Yorker who lives within 15 blocks of most auditions, it seems that way), had a great audition, and…a few days later, I was asked to become a company member at New Jersey Rep! I just performed in a wonderful staged reading with them, too.

A few months ago, I saw a notice for an EPA being held out at an Equity house in the Hamptons. It was for a play I thought I’d be perfect for and at a theater I’d always wanted to work at. Public transporation wasn’t a really great option to get out there, so I did something I’d been putting off for some time — joined Zipcar! They were having a great promotion, too, so I basically got my first year of membership for free.

I had a great monologue prepared for the show, drove myself out there, steeled myself for the possibility that they wouldn’t want to see me, and walked into the theater lobby to find a grand total of ten people there. After getting over the initial shock and delight of being the only light-haired early 20’s woman in the room (seriously, how often does that happen?!), I was thrilled to find out that I would be seen in less than 40 minutes.

To make a long story much shorter, the audition went great, I got called back in the city 6 weeks later and that went great, and I am now the only Non-Equity cast member in a stellar Christopher Durang play that runs 6 days a week for the month of July out in the Hamptons. But that last part of the sentence isn’t even totally accurate because, thanks to this production, I AM GETTING MY EQUITY CARD!

So here I am, sharing my not-so-secret with you: go to Equity auditions that are less-than-convenient for us city-dwellers. Because I’ve only done it a couple of times and it has resulted in amazing things for me. Just make sure it’s something you’re really right for, be totally prepared, and go blow ’em away.

And just in case I’m not being clear enough about how excited I am to be a part of this production this summer, I received my script in the mail moments ago and I am literally giddy:

What are your best getting-seen-at-an-EPA stories?

Have you had similar success at EPAs outside the city?

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2011 10:11 am

    Congrats and well said, Kate!

    This reminds me of a scene in “A Beautiful Mind” when Russell Crowe’s character figures out in a bar that market economics dictate that it’s better to go after something that fewer people want because the odds are better. The scene was awesome and spoke very clearly to me.

    Your post says the same thing for we actor types. I hope it resonates with your readers as it does for me.

  2. Erin G permalink
    June 8, 2011 10:24 am

    I got my card in a similar way — I saw that a regional theater was doing “South Pacific” “Phantom” “Music Man” and “Pirates of Penzance”. I had already done MM and Pirates before, and Nellie in SP was a dream role. As for Phantom, I knew the show. I knew they would need a few ballet dancers that could sing. I wrote the Artistic Director and offered myself as a reader at the Equity appointments. It was a blast. I was offered a non-union chorus spot in the ensemble for all four shows during the lunch break. Halfway thru the summer, the AD offered me the Nellie u/s track in SP on an Equity contract. Sitting for hours in a waiting room is one way, but working the auditions was a much better way for me.

    • June 8, 2011 10:35 am

      Wow, Erin! What a great story — and a seriously clever way to go about things! I’m impressed! 🙂

      • September 28, 2011 10:28 am

        I agree! Erin, this is awesome thinking outside of the box. I really believe that’s the key.

    • The Mothering Actor permalink
      April 2, 2013 6:05 pm

      Wow yes, love this! Such creativity and smarts.

  3. Stars in the Eyes permalink
    June 10, 2011 4:04 am

    I’m so glad I found this blog! For a while I’ve been searching for other blogging actresses to share the joy and pain and doubt with and all of a sudden i find a gazillion. Well, about 5 anyway. I will subscribe as soon as I find the button. Thanks for this initiative! Very nice!

    I myself am a European actress moving to LA this summer and I keep a blog on that and my life as an actress in general as well: http://starsintheeyes.wordpress.com/

    Keep up the good work, ladies!

  4. June 15, 2011 12:26 am

    Awesome! I have been teaching this to students for a while now, and I am so thrilled that you have found success. There are many paths that lead us to what we want, and brava to you for finding a detour. 🙂

  5. June 17, 2011 1:19 pm

    Great work! Also, being willing to travel and be “local hire” is a great way to do more film work and get your SAG card, if that is one of your goals, and you are ready. That is how I earned mine.

  6. September 28, 2011 10:27 am

    I crashed an equity-appointment-only audition yesterday and after about 18 “no”s from the casting director in various forms and 17 respective (but polite!) protests from me, my instinct told me I had pushed the envelope far enough and I agreed to leave. Only to find an invitation to the callbacks in my email that night! You never know what can happen! It’s important to fight for what you want, but equally as important to be sure you are “bugging them in a GOOD way.” When do you know when enough is enough and to throw in the towel?

    • September 28, 2011 12:28 pm

      Wow! That’s a great success story. I’ve never been that bold, but I’m happy to hear that it paid off for you! Keep us posted 🙂

  7. phitchick permalink
    January 3, 2013 8:21 pm

    I have a 17-year-old (18 in a week) that wants to attend an Equity only audition in New York this month. She is a strong singer and fits the role quite well. My daughter has done six feature films and is SAG eligible, but has managed to “fly under the radar” and not join SAG. Doing so would put her out of contention for any local non-union roles (we live in a large southern city). My question– should she “crash” the audition or would it be a waste of time/money? Her manager is against it.

    • January 4, 2013 7:45 am

      Great question! And one that doesn’t have a simple answer. The audition sounds like it would be great experience for her, and likely to get her noticed by the casting director if she’s really perfect for the role. On the other hand, she will likely work less once she gives up all of her non-union possibilities. The question becomes then — if she *did* get cast and was forced to go union, would she be ready and willing to start competing on the professional scene in a major city? If she’s not quite there yet, then it’s certainly not hurting her to just audition for the sake of the experience, but I probably would just wait if it were my kid.

      Hope that’s helpful! Good luck.

      • phitchick permalink
        January 4, 2013 10:38 am

        Thank you for your great advice. She is competing in the LA market (the six features roles were principal, some with a major kid’s network) and had a Broadway callback at age 11, after a taped audition. She’s never attended an EPA before, and would hate to spend the money to travel to NY, wait for hours and not be seen. On this one, the casting director specified “Equity only,” but she loves the role and maybe would get seen? I’m really surprised that she hasn’t been “called out” on not joining SAG, as all of the productions she worked on were SAG and she has a Coogan account through the SAG credit union. It’s been nice and, as you said, allowed her to work more not being union
        .

        • January 6, 2013 1:33 pm

          I would say if the notice specifically states no non-equity, then not to go. But definitely market to that casting director and maybe she’ll get an appointment audition for the project!

  8. December 30, 2013 2:47 pm

    It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this fantastic blog!
    I suppose for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your
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  9. Mackenzie Tipton permalink
    March 17, 2016 3:16 am

    So does this mean that a non-equity can actually go to a equity audition? (I’m thinking of Phantom) how do you get a card?

    • March 17, 2016 9:51 am

      Yes, it does! You show up and put your name on a list, and you will be able to audition if all of the Equity members get seen first. Break a leg!

  10. May 3, 2016 2:21 pm

    How about a non-equity Canadian flying out to NY to audition for a open equity call?? Does that sound like the wrong thing to do or should I say F-it and take a chance?

    • May 6, 2016 8:29 pm

      If you are really, REALLY, REEEEALLLLLYYY right for the production, that may be worth your time. Otherwise, I’d advise you to spend your money to travel for an audition less likely to be super crowded and too busy for a non-eq to get seen. Break a leg!

  11. Samantha permalink
    July 30, 2017 12:28 pm

    Question — in the instance where you emailed asking for an audition slot, did you state in your email that you were non-equity? Just wondering how exactly to go about it. Thank you for your post!!

Trackbacks

  1. Flashback Friday: Getting Seen at EPAs as a Non-Eq | The Green Room
  2. Happy 3rd birthday to The Green Room Blog! | The Green Room

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