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Backstage Experts

How To Handle Rejection

How To Handle Rejection

Rejection is a big topic for actors. You may feel rejected each time you audition for a role and do not get the part. You may take this personally, and call this “rejection.” After all, one definition of the word rejection is “discard as useless or unsatisfactory,” and the more actors who audition, the more who do not get cast. Some feel more and more discouraged and depressed, as if they are being judged and discarded or found wanting and useless. Has this happened to you?

You may be surprised when I say that you were not rejected at all.

Let me explain. True rejection is when someone trusts someone else and opens his/her heart to that someone, and then that someone rejects them. Tells them they do not love them anymore. It is awful. It is personal. It is devaluing. It hurts and can be devastating. THAT is rejection.

Now, I think it would be fair to say that nothing like that actually happened to you in the audition room. The people who are holding the auditions are there all day themselves, and they most likely want you, and every actor, to be the right one! They usually do not know you at all. You have merely spent a very short amount of time showing them a very brief presentation of your talent. They may have liked you, and also quite a few others who auditioned, as it would be likely that many of those who auditioned were talented. They have many people to choose from, and they have to choose one person to cast for each role.

As my partner Robert Curtiss and I like to say, imagine that you are making an egg for breakfast, and you have to choose one from the egg carton in the fridge. Perhaps you choose one because it's slightly larger or a different color. Whatever the reason, there are eleven eggs left. Now, did you choose one egg, or did you reject eleven? Chances are that all the other eggs will be chosen to be eaten at some point, but not for this breakfast.

Now, to address what I think is behind the fear of rejection. The possibility does exist that, after many auditions over a long period of time and no callbacks, you might need to improve your auditioning techniques. Or maybe you are not marketing yourself correctly. Or maybe you see yourself as a "type" that is not what others are seeing. These are lessons that need to be learned so that you can make adjustments in what you audition for and/or how you audition. Think of all your auditions as full-out performances. You just aren’t getting paid … yet!

The next and last possibility is a hard lesson, and one that some people have to face. Perhaps you are not as talented as you may have believed. I believe that it is probably a rare experience because most people who are pursuing this business need some positive feedback. Without it, they would probably have given up long before they had to figure it out the hard way. So, although this possibility does exist, the probability is that you simply were not chosen for these jobs. You need to keep your perspective about it.

It is as simple as viewing a glass half empty or a glass half full. Remember that the next time you start to feel that you were rejected. It really is in how you look at it!

John Essay has been a theatrical manager and producer for nearly 25 years. His company, Essay Management, represents actors, writers and directors in all areas of the entertainment industry. He also created, a website reflecting the culmination of all that he has learned in the last 25 years as a personal manager.

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