Awful Things Female Actors Were Told While Auditioning


“We need to know if you’re pretty enough to be on the cover of a magazine.”


Meryl Streep was told she wasn’t pretty enough when she auditioned for the 1976 version of King Kong. The producer actually said, “Why do you bring me this ugly thing?” when referring to Meryl coming in to audition.

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The producer actually said it in Italian, thinking Meryl couldn’t understand him. But she did. So, she responded, in Italian, saying, “I understand what you’re saying. I’m sorry I’m not beautiful enough to be in… KING KONG.”


Tiffany Haddish left an audition room and overheard someone say that she wasn’t “as urban as [they] thought she’d be.”

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Tiffany would leave her purse behind in an audition room with her phone recording, and then come back in and get it. Then, she’d play what everyone said after she left.


Also, right after her audition, Tiffany heard someone say, “I really think we should just go with a white girl. This role should be changed to white.”

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Before auditioning for Friends, Jennifer Aniston was reportedly told “to lose 30 pounds” if she wanted to make it in Hollywood.


During one audition, Lana Condor recalled being told to be “more like Hello Kitty.”

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Reese Witherspoon was told to “dress sexy” for her Legally Blonde audition. The casting directors thought she was a “shrew” and exactly like her character from Election.


Gina Rodriguez was asked to come back wearing a “black dress” after an audition because they “need to know if you’re pretty enough to be on the cover of a magazine.”


Emma Thompson was originally told that she was “too old for Hugh Grant” while preparing to film Sense and Sensibility. Emma is only two years older than Hugh IRL.

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Sophia Bush was told she “didn’t look sexy enough” to play Brooke Davis on One Tree Hill and then, when she auditioned again, she was told she “looked too sexy.” She actually auditioned for the role three times.


A director actually pointed a camera up Thandie Newton’s skirt during an audition and told her to “think about the guy making love to [her] in the scene.”

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Thandie recalled the experience, saying, “It turns out that the director was showing that audition tape to his friends after poker games at his house. And they would all get off on it.”


During one of her first auditions, Judi Dench was told that she had “every single thing wrong with her face” and that she probably wouldn’t be in “any film” because of it.

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Camila Mendes was told that she wasn’t “glossy” enough when she auditioned for Veronica on Riverdale.

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Camila told Stephen Colbert, “I remember the casting director telling me, ‘You’re a little matte right now. At the CW we’re glossy.'”


While auditioning to play a lawyer, Tracee Ellis Ross wore a “skirt suit and heels,” and was quickly forced into a different outfit because she had to look “sexier.” She was put in a mini skirt, a T-shirt, and bra that was a size too small for her.

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Tracee said, “I remember wondering, ‘What did I just allow myself to do?'”


Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers told Julie Andrews that she was “far too pretty” to play Mary, but she had “the nose for it.”

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Julie recalled the moment, saying that she got the casting note while she was in the hospital after just having delivered her daughter.


Elizabeth Banks was told that she was “too old” to play Mary Jane Watson opposite Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man. Elizabeth and Tobey are barely two years apart.

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Kerry Washington was told she looked “like a child” and wasn’t “sexy” after she arrived at an audition wearing overalls.

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Kerry elaborated on the experience, saying, “I had a really hard time with that feedback, because I just wanted to tell stories. I didn’t want it to be about the commodification of me or my body or how I looked.”


Sandra Oh was once told to “go back home and get famous, and then come back to LA and see how it goes.”

Handout / Getty Images

She considers it the worst piece of advice she’s ever been given.


Kristen Bell would often be told in auditions, “Well, you’re not pretty enough to play ‘the pretty girl,’ but you’re not quirky enough or weird enough to play ‘the weird girl.'”


And finally, Emmy Rossum was asked to show up to a director’s office in only a bikini and that was the audition. He wanted to see if she “was fat now.”

Nicholas Hunt / Getty Images

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