Though a career in the theater is a rewarding one, it can (like any career) come with its own set of challenges. Today we are going to talk about rejection, an issue that any actor, no matter what level of their career, will undoubtedly become familiar with. Many actors let rejection get them down, but that doesn’t have to and shouldn’t be your response. Those who succeed as actors are those that persevere no matter what they come up against. It is an absolute necessity that you learn how to deal with rejection, and glean lessons from each audition, as opposed to getting caught up in the outcome.
Musical theater is a business, like anything else. Sometimes I think actors lose sight of this. After all, it is something that we love to do, and would do for free! Easy to forget that it is like any other career, a business. The casting directors that are sitting behind the table when you audition are there to do a job. You have no idea what they have been asked to look for. Perhaps the girl they are looking to cast is supposed to be 5’9 and blonde. If you are a short brunette, you won’t land the role. Is this a reflection of your talent or your performance at the audition? Of course not! So many actors go there though, and it is a complete waste of energy. I was once told to look at each audition as an opportunity to perform, as opposed to a potential job. I thought this was great advice, and always tried to remind myself of this before I walked in the room. If you think of each audition as an opportunity to perform, you will have fun, and it will take the pressure off the audition. Not only that, but I guarantee you will be much more fun to watch. Casting directors can feel the energy when an actor is too eager to please, and it isn’t attractive. What is attractive is confidence, and an actor who is having fun performing for themselves, not someone else. Just take my word on this one. After the audition is over, it is imperative to let it go. You cannot sit by the phone waiting for them to call, because it is just wasted energy. Your energy will be better placed in preparation for your next audition!
Now, you probably understand these concepts of the ideal emotional reaction to auditions conceptually, but can you implement them? Controlling our emotional reaction to something in any aspect of our lives is not an easy task. Realizing this, you should know what activities help take your mind off things/act as an outlet for emotional frustration should the audition get the best of you. Perhaps physical activity seems to clear your mind? A nice run/walk outside could be the perfect medicine. Maybe it is going out for coffee with your best friend, talking with your mom, or cooking. It is individual for each person what it is that calms you and gets your mind off things. It is well worth it to invest some time in figuring out what activities you can do to help you cope so that you are prepared when you find yourself obsessing about the outcome of an audition, and not knowing how to stop your mind from fixating on a situation that is completely out of your control.
Lastly, not only are these auditions opportunities to perform, but they are also opportunities to learn valuable lessons. Auditioning is like riding a bike; the more you do it, the more comfortable it will start to feel. You will keep perfecting that 16 bar cut until it showcases your money notes and your acting in 30 seconds. You will get to know the casting directors and their preferences. You will learn what outfits suit you, and what don’t. You will keep perfecting your audition book until you have all the categories you need filled with songs that are type appropriate, and that you love to sing. Auditioning is a craft in and of itself, and it takes a lot of work to really master the art of auditioning. I always kept an audition journal – I would take notes after each audition on how I felt it went. Not only did this help me learn lessons from the audition, which I could apply to the next audition, but it also helped me let go of the outcome. After I allowed myself to obsess about the audition by writing about it, it was much easier to just let it go. Your audition journal will also serve as a reminder. Maybe you get a callback a couple of weeks later – what were you wearing, and who was in the room? If you forget, you will be able to reference your audition journal, which will help you prepare for your callback.
Navigating the theater business can be trying at times, and is not for the faint of heart. However, for those who persevere and learn how to deal with the obstacles they may be faced with, it is extraordinarily rewarding.
“A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success”. - Bo Bennett