Famous 5 ?’s Starring: Andrew Cao

Famous 5 ?’s Starring: Andrew Cao

Our next star of our Famous 5 questions Blog series is Andrew Cao.  Andrew and I met doing a “headless” gig for an online campaign for a laundry detergent.  We had a wonderful connection and stayed connected through the years.  I have watched how his career grew and changed and thought he was a perfect next candidate for our Blog series!   I got A LOT out of his answers and I know you will too!

Andrew danced on Broadway in Disney’s Aladdin, the 2011 revival of Anything Goes with Sutton Foster, and Nice Work if You Can Get It, spanning almost 10 years and thousands of performances.  Regionally, he played “Bernardo” in West Side Story at The Stratford Shakespeare Festival and other principle roles at places like The Old Globe, Goodspeed, and PCLO.  Andrew appeared on television in Iron Fist, The Mysteries of LauraBlue BloodsThe DetourThe Late Show with David LettermanNickelodeon’s The Backyardigans, The Tony AwardsThe View, and Good Morning America   He shot national network commercials and international print campaigns for clients like PNC Bank, Huggies, Baby Jogger, Vanguard, and Cheerios.

As an educator, Andrew has almost 20 years of professional experience teaching theatre, dance, and “the business” to over 25,000 students of all ages and abilities from all over the world. In New York, he has designed and taught hundreds of classes and masterclasses for Broadway Dance Center, Broadway Classroom, Broadway Workshop,  among others.  Currently, Andrew is teaching musical theatre and dance full time at The University of Florida.  @ufmusical theatre @heycao​

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After years of being a performer what are you still learning and taking away from auditions. 

Oh man.  I used to think I had to be perfect.  The most talented in the room.  The most impressive.  The best.  Nail the audition.  But now I’m able to look at it as a chance to hang out with some fellow artists, have fun playing around with audition material, and see if I can help them with the project they’re working on.

I also used to put the people behind the table way up on pedestal, like they were these superior beings.  They’re just people, though.  I think I’m able to enter the audition room now just like I’m going to meet some potential new friends.  This mindset has helped me to be calmer in auditions and alleviate some of that pressure to impress them and be perfect.

What is something you would go back and tell your younger self about this business?

Do you mind if I kind of flip this question around a bit?

There are times in my career when, despite the success I’ve had, I still felt like it wasn’t enough.  I would see others who I thought were doing “better” than me, and all of my own successes would feel inadequate.  I recently thought about my 18 year old self, though, and that if somebody handed my present-day resume to my 18-year-old self, my 18-year-old self would be blown away.  So, I guess I would tell my younger self, “Always be proud of what you do, celebrate everything you accomplish, and revel in every moment of your truly one-of-a-kind journey through life.”

Name any memorable moments (could be funny, embarrassing etc.) that maybe landed you the job or helped you learn and grow as a performer?

Well, my wife and I got to a point where we’d joke that if an audition went really well, we definitely didn’t book it.  And if the audition went really horribly, we almost for sure had the job.  This came out of always trying (and failing) to assess how I thought I did in an audition.  You really can never tell.  And I think I grew as a performer when I stopped worrying about what the casting director thought of me.  Now I can go into an audition, show them a little of who I am and what I like to do, and leave with a sense of accomplishment.  I even give myself some type of reward or celebration afterward, regardless of how I think it went.  It could be something as little as picking up a candy bar or going to my favorite place for lunch.

What is your biggest Pet Peeve at an Audition or what is the most common mistake that you see at Auditions.

This current chapter in my life has me teaching undergraduates at The University of Florida.  I’m also quite involved in Florida’s high school theatre scene through recruiting for our musical theatre program.  So, recently I’ve seen a lot of auditions from younger performers (16 – 24 years old) over this past year.  I think one of the biggest things for young performers to learn is how to walk into an audition room and be a human.  Many students seem stuck in a robotic, impersonal introduction before they present their material.  “Hello, my name is Michael Jones and I will be performing a piece by…”  Forget about that!  When you come into the room, be a human!  There are some other humans sitting behind a table who potentially want you to do fun theatre stuff with them.  Think about how you talk to other humans when you’re NOT in an audition situation… and talk to the humans behind the table like that J  You have such a limited amount of time in an audition.  Use every moment you can to show them your one-of-a-kind self.

What is the number 1 tip you can give to anyone auditioning?

Well, I don’t know if this is #1, but it’s an important one.

Auditioning is not a sprint.  It is not a contest.  It is not American Idol where we’re trying to be “the best” and “win.”  We’re trying to slowly and carefully craft a business that people come to again and again for the quality, reliability, and “joy” it provides.

It’s hard to see it this way when you’re just beginning your theatrical journey and you’ve only had a handful of auditions in your lifetime.  But as you do more and more auditions, it becomes clearer.  I auditioned for one particular director quite a bit over a number of years and never got the job.   I of course saw this as a failure.  But years later, this director remembered me from those auditions and invited me to audition for what would become my first Broadway show.

At the time, I wasn’t able to see how—even in an audition where I didn’t get cast—I was still moving my career forward toward that next opportunity.  ​


I hope you enjoyed this last addition to our Famous 5 ?’s and also found it as informative as I did!!  Stayed tuned for who will be our next Star!

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