How To Handle Rejection as a performer
Bestselling author Stephen King famously said “By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing”.
Working in the arts is notoriously difficult. It’s competitive, pressurised, highly critical, and throws up all sorts of challenges – not least rejection.
What is rejection?
Whether you’re an actor, dancer, poet, singer or model, the majority of jobs are won via an audition process, where you’ll be in direct competition with several other hopefuls – all of whom might just be as equally talented and driven as you!
Lets assume you’ve done your very best to prepare for the role. You’ve learnt your lines, had an early night, turned up on time and perfected that Northern Irish accent they’ve suggested ‘would be beneficial’ for the part.
What if you don’t get the job?
Knockbacks can take a real toll on your confidence and motivation, but there are various tried and tested ways to handle them.
It’s not me, it’s you!
Casting is an difficult process, made harder by the fact that the director and producer often have an actor in mind already.
If they want Eddie Redmayne, but your acting style is more Chris Pratt, then be aware that your audition is going to start with a handicap.
Yes, directors and casting agents should be open-minded, but more than often they’re looking for a particular look or tone, and if you don’t fit the bill then it’s going to be an uphill (likely impossible) struggle to win them round.
Ask for feedback
If you’ve been passed over for the part of your dreams, the last thing you’ll want to do is rub salt in the wound by asking: why?
But asking ‘why?’ is a surefire way to a ‘yes!’ further down the line.
Swallow your pride and send the casting agent or producer a polite email asking for feedback. You’ll want them to remember you clearly, so don’t wait too long before following up.
They are under no obligation to provide feedback, but if you ask nicely, you may be lucky enough to uncover a tip or two which will help you in the future.
I’ve got feedback – should I listen to it?
You should listen to everything, but whether you take feedback on board or not is entirely up to you. As a rule of thumb, if several people give you a similar note, then there might be some truth in it.
The more rejection you face, the better you can handle it. And it makes those eventual wins feel all the sweeter…