Living with Rejection as an Actor

     Acting is hard. It’s one of the most difficult careers to get into. You go to audition after audition and experience rejection constantly. There is a saying that relates to this issue: An actor who books a gig in one-out-of-ten auditions is a working actor. So, that means you have to develop thick skin if you want to have any chance to survive. That doesn’t mean you’re never allowed to be disappointed, but looking at your rejection as failure will eat away at you. Hell, I still look at rejection as my own failure as an actor.

     I remember recently going to a short film audition. I did my prep work, got my updated resume (I got an agent, so I was super excited to print that!), stapled that with my headshot, and waited for my chance to perform. I even met a pretty cute woman at the audition, and we ended up exchanging information (Woo!), so it was already a good day.

     The audition itself went well. I performed my comedic monologue, and I knew I knocked it out of the park. It got laughs, and the performance felt just right. Leaving there I thought I had gotten the gig. Sadly, I never received a phone call. It happens. I was disappointed, but I had to move on from the experience.

     Sometimes we do a fine job at our audition and never even receive a callback. Sometimes we bomb our auditions. Sometimes, every single thing that could possibly go wrong goes wrong. For some reason, you’re focused on something weird that happened earlier. Maybe you got into a fight with a friend or family member, maybe you’re stressing about someone you have a crush on. It could be any number of reasons, but it is just enough that it knocks you off your game and you are not present in the moment during the audition.

     Now I’m telling you while praying that God doesn’t strike me down with lightning for being a hypocrite. Let it go (If you start singing that song, I will haunt you when I die). Whether you did an exceptional job or a poor job, you need to walk out of that room and focus on the rest of your day. If you focus on the good auditions and don’t get the gig, it can be disheartening. This is something my father has told me for years, and I am still amazed how long it took to sink in. “But I like overthinking things that are entirely out of my control,” a younger Quinn might have said, like an idiot. In the end, auditions are a means to an end. The director has a vision for a show and that vision might not have you in it, no matter how well you performed a monologue from Transformers for a Shakespeare audition. This brings to mind another idea that helped calm me down somewhat.

     The decision to hire you has absolutely nothing to do with you. Sure, you can perform a perfect audition, but what forces a director to hire you? They have their own idea for how the cast should be in a project, and they might just not see a place in you in that project. They might have the perfect role for you in a future project. Also, they just might not see you in the role. They have their idea for what type of actor they want to cast in the role, and they often will not deviate from that. This is not to say that their minds will never be changed, but it takes a lot. Furthermore, have you considered that not getting cast may not have anything to do with your performance? Maybe the director was distracted because they forgot to eat breakfast and now all they can think about is how good lunch will be. Maybe you reminded the director of an ex and that's the reason they don’t call you back. In reality, the casting process itself has nothing to do with actors. Once again, I owe my thanks for this bit of wisdom from my father. Stupid old wise men.

     Overall, rejection sucks, but it is essential for actors to get over that. The odds are you will experience rejection for the rest of your life. Just focus on the actual performance as that’s the only thing you can control. In life, the only thing you can control is yourself. Break a leg in your auditions!

     Thank you so much for reading my blog! If you enjoyed it, please follow me on Twitter @QuinnAngell, or Daniel Quinn Angell on Instagram. Also, please check out my demo while you’re here! Have a wonderful day!