Tony Nominee Corey Hawkins on His Nearly-Disastrous Juilliard Audition

“I remember thinking, ‘I want to go to Juilliard, I want that structure and I want that rigor and that classical foundation.’” – Corey Hawkins

Corey Hawkins, who currently stars in the Broadway revival of Six Degrees of Separation — which he has received a Tony Award nomination for — has had quite a rise since appearing in small roles like “Busboy” on Royal Pains in 2011. Part of that can be credited to his education at Juilliard. The Washington D.C.-born actor tells Playbill that he made an early go at a career in Los Angeles, but he aspired to attend Juilliard. However, an almost disastrous audition nearly derailed his dreams.

Hawkins reveals that he was interested in the structure and foundation of a classical acting school, so naturally his sights were set on Juilliard. “I didn’t audition straight out of high school. I was like, ‘I’m gonna go to California and try my luck,’ but then I wanted to get back to the East Coast. I remember thinking, ‘I want to go to Juilliard, I want that structure and I want that rigor and that classical foundation.’”

With his aim set high, Hawkins managed to get an audition for the school — but it all almost went totally wrong. He recalls, “I’d been working on this monologue since I was a kid. It was from James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner. I remember walking into the room, getting down on my knees, and I was like, ‘This is it, I’m about to act my behind off. They’re about to accept me into Juilliard,’ and completely blanked on the monologue.”

Hawkins must have recovered well — he was accepted into Juilliard, graduated, and has reaped the benefits ever since.