Christiani Pitts paid her dues and worked side-hustle jobs to support herself before becoming an ensemble member in “A Bronx Tale: The Musical”—and now the leading lady in “King Kong.” Starring as Ann Darrow, Pitts is living her dream as a performer while becoming the first black actor to bring the iconic role to the masses. She sat down with Backstage to talk about how she booked the role and to offer her top tips on how to keep yourself motivated amid rejection.
The best auditions happen when you least expect it.
“I went in [for ‘King Kong’] just sort of baring my soul. I didn’t care about their judgment because I didn’t think I stood a chance…. [Remember that] you’re giving these people what they want, no matter what it is. You have the tools, so just do it, and they’ll like it or they won’t. There’s nothing that you should be in your head about.”
Remember why you put in the work.
“I feel like it can be tiresome, but if you realize that you spent your whole life trying to be on the stage professionally, and you got there, nothing should stop that. Nothing should make you feel like, Ugh, I’m exhausted! You spent your whole life trying to be here. I think remembering that and remembering that there are a lot of people who would love to be in your shoes is really important. I don’t take it lightly that I have wanted to be on Broadway since I was a baby, and I have been two-times blessed. I don’t take it for granted.”
Building trust is crucial in the industry.
“I think if you stay completely present and ready to do the work, you’ll be absolutely fine and you’ll be someone that casting directors or directors look to as someone they can trust, which is something that I have learned is really important in this business and maybe more important than someone’s talent or fame…. If someone can trust you to do the work and show up, that’s half the battle.”
Creating your own material can get you through rejection.
“[Early on,] I tried to find other things that I enjoyed doing, and I realized that I enjoyed writing. I’d always written songs and music before, but I’d never written plays and screenplays and shorts. When I wasn’t working, I was like, ‘Maybe it’s because what I’m good at doesn’t exist right now, and maybe if I just wrote it myself I could have a shot; I could have material to learn.’ So I just started writing…. I felt fulfilled. I still felt like I had something to do.”
On her No. 1 piece of audition advice.
“Understand that this character, at that time in that audition room, is nobody’s but your own, and as long as you go in with something full and realized, it can be completely wrong, but it’ll be a lot stronger than trying to go in with something that the person on the other side of the table wants.”
Ready to get to work? Check out Backstage’s Broadway audition listings!