While auditions—and the inevitable barrage of rejections—are a standard part of a budding actor’s career, most aspiring performers aren’t privy to what’s said about them after they leave the audition room. Not so for Tiffany Haddish. During a Hollywood Reporter roundtable interview with comedy actresses, the Girls Trip star revealed her wily trick for listening in on private casting team criticism: secretly record the conversations.
“You know what I’d do?” she asked the group, which also included comedy heavyweights Jane Fonda, Natasha Lyonne, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Maya Rudolph, Regina Hall, and Alex Borstein. “I would put my phone on voice memo, put it in my bag, do the audition, walk out the room, leave my bag, come back and be like, ‘Oh, I forgot my purse in there.’ ”
“Oh, you’re nasty,” Rudolph remarked, as others probed for details.
Some of the responses Haddish captured were, predictably, less than constructive. “ ‘She is not as urban as I thought she’d be,’ ” the actress recalled hearing. “Or ‘She’s so ghetto, I just can’t.’ ‘Her boobs aren’t big enough.’ ‘I really think we should just go with a white girl. This role should be changed to white.’ ”
“Wait, how many rooms did you leave it in?” Rudolph asked.
“A lot. A lot. It was like my M.O.,” Haddish said.
The story was a surprise to Fonda, who shared that she is often hesitant to overhear feedback, even the post-movie chitchat in theater restrooms. But Haddish insisted that though some comments hurt her feelings, listening in was valuable. “I want to hear so that I can grow,” she said. “And also so that I can write jokes about it and I can use it to my advantage. Like all this, ‘Jeez, she can’t read. Jeez, if she just could read it would work. She said every word wrong.’ And I’m like, ‘They’re right.’ So, I start reading out loud more and practicing. And it helps me in the long run.”