Your audition pieces should be the focus of your preparation, but you must write a good personal statement to support the work you bring in.
Your essay on your college application can greatly dictate how schools view you, whether you like it or not.
A boring essay for exciting work can do a great disservice to the artist.
It’s worth your time to write a good one! You can use it in the future for scholarship applications, grants for projects, and even press mentions.
I remember using part of my personal statement from college auditions on a grant application for an Off-Off Broadway play I wanted to produce and we received $2,500!
Below are tips to make your drama school application essay a home run!
Start With What Makes You Special
Instead of a boring introductory paragraph, use your first words to engage the reader with something special about yourself and how it relates to theatre.
Maybe you got started in theatre because of a dare that led to someone casting you in a local show.
Maybe you have a big family and you were always performing for them and decided to try out for your first show because of your drunk aunt.
Maybe you overcame some massive adversity recently and found enlightenment in your theatre work.
What makes you special? Tell a story.
Painting the one-dimensional picture of "everything that's great about you" is not going to be exciting to read. Why not start with something that allows your character to shine through?
This leads to the next tip...
You always want to be authentically YOU, in the audition and in the application materials.
In the essay, that means:
Speak like you sound
Speak about your feelings truthfully
Be specific and concise
I always find it helpful to interview myself then record myself speaking the answers aloud. This helps get the ideas flowing.
You can transcribe what you say onto paper and you’re already on your way to shaping a powerful and authentic personal statement.
It provides a conversational and authentic tone to your writing. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
What has primarily shaped me as an artist?
Why does an acting career interest me so much?
What actions demonstrate my dedication to the craft and career of acting?
Why don't I skip school and go straight into the industry?
You can create your own questions too, like "What about me as a person do I bring to my art?"
You want to sound like yourself. Avoid “fancy” language just to embellish and sound good. It often has the opposite effect.
Use the most specific language you can in the most efficient way possible. In other words, really talk to someone!
For example, if reading the works of Satre helped you find new levels of absurdity in working on a Waiting for Godot monologue, definitely say that. But don’t say...
“As a significant reference point to my process-based approach I have been absorbing the astute work of Satre in order to find my way into this legendary Beckett masterpiece.”
“Reading Satre opened my eyes to new and complex levels in Waiting for Godot.”
See, wasn’t that a relief!
If you're going to spend the next chapter of your life with a school, you want to be 100% YOU!
Use literature you love to help tell your story.
A well-read student is a valuable student.
What are you reading right now? Which plays, poems, novels, passages have inspired you the most over time?
Can you incorporate those?
Yes. And you should! 'Nuff said.
You need distance and feedback on your personal statement. Let it breathe, have multiple people look it over for punctuation errors and speed bumps in flow of thought.
You’ll feel when it’s ready.
Choose people who have different skills. Pick someone who knows your work as an artist, someone who is a grammar nerd, and a family member who’s known you since before you studied acting.
The goal is for all of them to feel the power of your statement without knowing all the references and terms in it.
Tell real stories and show real emotion. Speak to someone. They’re reading it.