How a Little White Lie Led Adrienne Warren to Her First Tony Nomination

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Photo Source: Nathan Arizona

Adrienne Warren’s work ethic precedes her. It precedes her so much, in fact, that several years ago, when Broadway’s “Shuffle Along” was holding auditions for a true-blue hoofer—which Warren isn’t, really—her agent submitted her anyway, knowing her client would put in the requisite work should she book it. Cut to Warren nabbing a 2016 Tony nomination for her role in the musical. That story is below, plus the advice the “Tina–The Tina Turner Musical” star would tell her younger self and the audition horror story that still haunts her years later.

What is one performance every actor should see?
Gregory Hines in anything.

What is the wildest thing you’ve ever done to get a role?
That I’ve done, or that my team has done? Because my team lied to the “Shuffle Along” team and told them that I could hoof—I could hoof, but I haven’t hoofed in years. They definitely lied about that. When I got in the room, he was like, “Great, put on your shoes.” It worked. But then I had to go and really, really work, because I was putting on a show. Only a team that knows that you will do it will do that. So, thank you [to my agent] for lying for me and getting my Tony nomination audition!

What is your worst audition horror story?
I don’t even remember the name of the project, but you know how people always say [you shouldn’t] meet your heroes? Well, this is one of those instances. One of my heroes was on the creative team and I came in and I sang and she never even really looked at me. I think she even answered her phone during my song. It was the most disrespect I’d ever gotten in an audition, and I left the room and I bawled my eyes out, because I’d looked up to her my whole life. I ended up working with her later on, which is hilarious. But I was like, really? The first time I worked with her, I was, like, side-eye coming into the room. I was like, “You were mean to me!” Then again, I don’t know if she had had a bad day. In that moment, I was all about me. It could have been her mom calling. I don’t know. But I was like, “She hates me.” It just goes to show you, kids, don’t always take personal offense at what happens in rehearsal rooms, because you don’t know what’s going on in those people’s lives.

How did you get your Equity Card?
Oh, this is so exciting. I got it doing “Dreamgirls” at Atlanta’s Theater of the Stars. It was Jennifer Holliday starring in it, and I was in the ensemble [as] a dance captain. I was the youngest kid in the show.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Chill out, girl. My work ethic at a young age was intense, and I just needed to breathe a bit more and smell the roses, so to speak. Life is happening to us at all times. Life is a terminal illness and it’s happening to us at all times. Don’t let life pass you by just because you are so focused on certain goals in your career. Allow that to be a part of your process as an artist.

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