“They say if you dream a thing more than once, it’s sure to come true.” -Sleeping Beauty
There was a Disney special on the other night, a tribute to Disneyland celebrating their 60th Diamond anniversary. There were so many wonderful moments during the show, but one of my favorites was a montage showing all the female characters starting from Snow White to Pocahontas, from Jasmine to Rapunzel, from Mulan to Tiana, from Ariel to Esmeralda. They talked about how each one portrayed strong, independent, brave, caring roles and gave inspiration for girls all over the world to be just like them.
It, of course, made me reminiscent of the times that I had been given the opportunity to play such roles. As a little girl I would play dress up and pretend to be a princess, but little did I know that I would actually be able to portray these fierce, sometimes fiery, females. It made me think about how it actually all came to life…how I became a princess…
I was a junior in college studying dance and on course to graduate with my bachelor of performing arts from Oklahoma City University (one of the best dance programs in the country). Summer time was fast approaching and I knew I needed to come up with a plan to find a performing job to grow my resume before graduation. I had been searching online and then out of the blue I decided to check Disneyauditions.com. I had always dreamed of working for Disney and the sky was the limit at this point in my life. It just so happened that there was an audition coming up in California in a couple weeks for what I was not quite sure, but they did say they needed girls in certain heights to play a number of different princesses. And that was all the information I needed to book a flight to sunny Southern California for an audition that I will never forget.
Luckily at the time I had one sister living in Southern California so she picked me up from the airport and took me straight to the audition in Anaheim. There were hundreds of girls, nothing like I had ever seen before. Some short, some tall, some pretty, some gorgeous, some that looked straight out of a magazine. I immediately felt unprepared for whatever I had just gotten myself into. They herded us in like cattle, stood us in lines and walked up and down the aisles inches from our faces just staring at us while we nervously smiled. Straight from there they made the first cut.
Those of us who made the first cut were then shuttled to another room for them to finish making the rounds with the other 200 plus girls. While waiting some of us tried to strike up conversations, lessing the awkward silence. I realized that some of the girls had done these auditions before (some quite a few times) and they filled me in on what was in store. I was thankful for any additional information they could give me for I still felt quite clueless as to what was happening.
If my memory serves me right we learned a simple dance combination to see how graceful we moved. This was right up my alley so I made it through another cut.
The next step was “getting wigged.” Based on our face shape, eye color and other facial features they started wigging us in the characters that they thought would be a good match. This was so much fun! I got to try on so many different characters I was like a little kid in a candy shop (note to anyone reading this that is looking for audition advice: you can be the most beautiful girl in the world, but if you don’t look like the current cast you most likely will not be kept. You can always try again and maybe ask for feedback if you ever have a chance to speak with anyone. But remember this: “you are a princess not because you have a prince, but because your father is King & he is God”).
I made it through the first day of cuts and was then asked to come back the following day (luckily I had a late flight to go back to school). The next day was filled with more cuts some including how we could speak like the character, our improve skills and even our mannerisms.
At the end of the day a handful of girls were brought into a small room and given a packet of information about being hired and starting orientation, I just happened to be in that group of girls. I felt as if I was having an outer body experience. I had made it through the two long days of auditions and I was being hired by Disney to portray a real life princess and to make dreams come true for so many little girls and boys.
As I slowly made it back down to earth I remembered I had no where to live, no car, no friends, I just knew I had to make it happen for a job I had always dreamt about. So once I finished up my semester of school I flew back to SoCal for the first few weeks of orientation and literally lived in a hotel room while I searched for apartments that were walking distance from work. Luckily my parents were gracious enough to help me finance this whole dream until I could start getting a paycheck (thanks Mom & Dad)!
That first summer as I lived out my dream at work I then would walk “home” to a one bedroom apartment with an air mattress and a lawn chair. That’s it. No TV. No internet. No nothing. Funny thing is I still look back on that summer as one of the best decisions I ever made. I was able to go to play dress up, make some of the best friends of my life to date and it even took me half-way across the world to work at Tokyo Disneyland where I eventually met my husband & found my own happily ever after (just in case you want to read about how we met here is the story of us). I owe a lot to the Mouse. Not only did he help me make my dreams come true, but he helped me make the dreams come true for so many others.
Every once in a while I do miss dressing up and seeing the smiles of all those kids, but I have such great memories of working for Disney for over seven years and anytime I see something on TV, like that 60th anniversary special, I can smile knowing that I was somehow a part of that spectacular magic that is Disney.
“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” -Walt Disney