How I Deal with the Constant Rejection That is Part of Being an Actor

Not long ago, I was talking with a former actor who decided to quit acting because the constant rejection became too much. He was tired, he explained, of getting his hopes up, waiting by the phone, and never hearing anything back. The guy has a few pretty good credits, but he couldn’t stay the course. I have to admit, 2017 hasn’t been the best year I’ve had — 2016 was amazeballs, but 2017? Meh. There are times that I’ve thought, “maybe I should just focus on my other career.” We’ve all been there, right? Somehow, in spite of the constant rejection, I just can’t quit this thing. I love it too much, even if it can sometimes hurt like hell. The guy asked how I deal with the constant rejection that is part of being an actor. In a nutshell, this was my response.

It’s simple. I treat the audition as the job. Once the audition is over, the job is done and I put it out of my head. If I hear back, that’s great, but if not, I’ve mentally moved past it because, to me, the job is done. I look at it this way. For each role they need to fill in a film or television show, the casting director may get 1,000 or more submissions from agents. And that is AFTER they have already looked at producer requests and selected their own favorites. So, if I’ve made the cut and have the opportunity to perform in front of a casting director, I’ve already won! In this business, the odds are SO stacked against you! I consider it a privilege just to have the chance to audition.

I prepare as if the role is mine and I enjoy living that little slice of life for as long as I can. What a privilege that is! Once I have performed for the casting director, my work is done and I move on to the next one. I never dwell on the question “am I going to book it?” because there is no way to know. I’ve had auditions I thought I just nailed that I never heard back from and I’ve had a few where I left the room thinking, “well, shit, today was not my day,” that I ended up booking. Last month, I had a director’s call-back for a great role in a film being done by one of my favorite directors. The callback went so well and we even had a great conversation after — I owned that room!! And then, crickets. I heard nothing and that fucking sucked. But, I’m on to the next one…

I know when I don’t book a role, I haven’t been rejected — it’s nothing personal and doesn’t mean I’m not talented. In fact, just by being in the room shows a great amount of acceptance — I was good enough to be there in the first place. That is HUGE! There are so many factors that go into casting each role that have nothing to do with the audition performance. Do I look the part? Am I old enough? I was once turned down (after being pinned) for an industrial that would have paid me thousands of dollars because they wanted someone with gray hair. You just never know. But, the fact that I was there in the first place means they saw something in me that made them want to see more! And they’ve seen me again since. Out of all of the submissions, very few got to actually audition, so being there in the first place was an honor.

Worry and dwelling on the “what if’s” is pointless. If I am stressing over something I CAN change, then I have to change it. If I CAN’T change it, it is pointless to worry about it because it is out of my control. As an actor, I can’t control the casting process, so I don’t stress over it or get bogged down in disappointment if I don’t book a role. It wouldn’t be healthy for me to do so. I try to always do good work and learn as much as I can each time so I’m better for the next one. Of course that is easier for me to say because I have a career I love outside of acting so I’m not living from gig to gig. Money and fame are not why I am an actor — I act because I love the craft. So, in my acting life, the AUDITION IS THE JOB! That’s how I deal with the constant rejection that is part of being an actor, by focusing on the victory of landing an audition in the first place. In my opinion, if you make it into the room, you’ve already won! And that’s a great reason to be happy!