Acting Is Hard: 3 Ways of Dealing With The Rejection
by Christy Arington
We’ve all been there. You’ve auditioned, you got the call back and now you’re on hold for a part that you really want to play and that would give your career a boost. You feel really great about your audition and how you presented yourself in the room. And then the call or email comes a few days later that lets you know you didn’t get the part. The devastation of rejection sinks in.
As actors, we are rejected on a fairly regular basis. We’ve learned to grow a “thick skin” and to keep putting ourselves out there. But anyone who’s had a string of disappointments can tell you that sometimes, it isn’t easy to let it go and to not take it personally.
A few years ago, I auditioned for 7 plays within a 3 week period. I got called back for all of them. I didn’t get cast in a single one of them. I started to doubt my abilities as an actor. I was incredibly frustrated and to say that I felt really low would be a massive understatement. I started to go over auditions in my head in an attempt to figure out why I wasn’t cast. “Was I not good enough?” “Did they not like me?” “Maybe I’m fooling myself about my abilities.” “Should I just quit?” “Am I too old?” “Am I too fat?” “What if I never get cast again?” “WHY DO I KEEP DOING THIS TO MYSELF?”
Three things to remember when you’re feeling the feels of rejection:
1. Give yourself a day.
It’s okay to feel what you feel when you feel it. I’ve found that ignoring my feelings actually causes me to feel worse. I give myself permission to feel what I feel for one day and then I have to move forward (nothing is gained by focusing on the negative). I try to remember to be kind to myself. I also try to do something nice for ME. Maybe it’s a manicure or a massage or my favorite meal or maybe I just take the day off from work.
2. Remember that it’s not about you.
There are lots of reasons why Directors make their casting choices. They pass on actors for any number of reasons. It could literally be anything, but I’ll tell you what it’s not. It’s not about you personally. Most of the time, it’s not about your talent but instead it’s about character traits that you can’t control. Directors have to make hard decisions and most are empathetic to the plight and feelings of the actor. As a Director, I can promise you I take no relish in making hard working actors feel badly. The art of acting and the business of acting are two very different things.
3. Turn your rejection into motivation.
Once you’ve dealt with the initial disappointment try to look back and see what you can work on for the future. Focus on what IS within your control. Be honest with yourself. Write down the things you did well and the things you can improve upon. Take a class, create your own project, go out and audition again. Remember, that each rejection is an opportunity to build upon your knowledge and experience as a performer.
Rejection is always going to be a part of our lives as actors. The most important thing to remember is that we are not defined by rejection; we’re defined by how we deal with it when it comes.
Christy Arington is an actor, director and theatre educator. She’s a company member with Lakeside Shakespeare. She received her MFA in Performance from the University of Georgia and works as an office extraordinaire at Acting Studio Chicago.