How to Deal With Rejection

“As actors, we know only too well that we spend much more time auditioning than we do performing. Let’s look at what may make that time a bit more enjoyable and productive.

The amount of rejection in show business is legendary. People on the outside wonder: how can we take it? Doesn’t it beat you down? The answer to that is, ‘Yes, sometimes it does, but most of the time, it doesn’t.’ I’ll explain.

After someone has been in this business about a month, he realizes that we are always going to lose more auditions than we are going to win and to survive, we’d better take the “personal” part out of it. It wasn’t that they didn’t like ME (they don’t even know me). They didn’t think I was right for the part. In that, they were either right or wrong. Perhaps they were right and I really wasn’t right for the role. (It happens.)

But, if they were wrong and I actually would have been great for the part, I have some work to do. Perhaps they didn’t know what I could do or they weren’t aware of my range and ability? I’d have to work on correcting that. The way professionals react to negativity is much more analytical and professional than just putting our tail between our legs and slumping home.

However, we are human. Dry spells can be particularly difficult. The longer they go on, the harder it is to keep ourselves ‘up’ and positive. Occasionally there are also roles that stand out over the others. These are the ones we REALLY want. It’s also tough when we lose them. They don’t come around that often.

The only thing we can do is to face it professionally and like a baseball pitcher who’s in a slump, just keep throwing. His coach and your agent will tell you both the same thing, keep after it. It won’t last forever. Hang in there, you just have to wait it out.

That’s what we do because, basically, we have no alternative. Face it like a numbers game; the more interviews we go on, the more jobs we’ll get. We shoot our best shot then forget it. Hanging around waiting for a phone call won’t cut it. They know how to reach us.

Actors, many times, don’t have to look further than themselves to find someone to beat up on them. Example: an actor does a play that is reviewed by six writers. Five loved it. One thought the actor wasn’t strong enough to carry the show. That actor could be morose for weeks thinking that people believed he was too weak for the role. The five glowing reviews have been forgotten. The bad one, he can’t get out of his head. Actors can be like that. We have to watch it. Some actors who are severely handicapped by questionable reviews make a point of never reading them. Much better for their peace of mind as well as their subsequent performances.

We have to believe we have a reason to be in this business, that we have something to contribute. Auditioning is our opportunity to show what we do. If we are unable to sufficiently convince others of our ability, we have to work on that. Rejection points out our weak points. They are either so very weak that we end up in another business (or another facet of this one) or we get to work to make our weak points some of our strongest. 

Be sure to remember the good reviews and … hang in there.

As Confucius said, ‘Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.’

– Now Casting, ‘Actors Ink’ (Volume 9, #4)

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