Dealing with Rejection: 5 Ways to Cope with No
Dealing with rejection poses a challenge to many actors, even the more successful ones. After all, we're sensitive creatures, aren't we? We're going to discuss 5 ways you can cope with rejection as an actor. But first, let's look at why rejection is so powerful.
Fear, Rejection, and Evolution
If we asked you to name the basic needs of every human being, what would you say? You'd probably say food, water, clothing, shelter, and maybe love. Correct?
What if we said there was one more? A need so important that you would die without it...
Acceptance. Human beings need and crave acceptance. Why? Because while humans were evolving, we traveled in tribes of only 75 to 150 people. And those people were your whole existence. So if you got rejected by someone, everyone else knew about it, and might reject you as well.
The fear of rejection is built into our very DNA. It's part of our survival instinct. Our bodies tell us to avoid rejection at all cost.
The emotion of fear is only a set of chemicals flowing through your bloodstream, designed to keep you alive. (See the article about dealing with fear and stagefright.) But here's the good news: Going to an audition is not going to kill you.
The best way to overcome the emotion of fear is to do what you're afraid to do. Afraid to march in that room and sing? Do it anyway! Afraid to interview with that casting director? Just do it! Fortune favors the bold.
Five Methods for Dealing with Rejection
1. Remember, acting is a business.
Yes, acting is an art form. Our favorite art form, actually. But casting directors have to make a living. And they make a living by selecting the actor who is best suited for the role. Most of the time, it's not about your talent. It's about your height, weight, hair color, voice part, or any other character trait you can't control.
It helps to remember that acting is a business. It's nothing personal. For more about this, see the article about how to become an actor.
2. Focus on the positive.
After you've left the audition, think of three things you did well, good feedback you received, etc.
My slate was really smoothe.
My high notes weren't flat.
The casting director complimented my headshot.
This exercise in positive thinking will reinforce good audition habits and boost your confidence.
3. Focus on the negative.
In stark contrast to the last method, think of a time where you were rejected personally. Remember (in great detail) a bad break-up, divorce, or other heartbreak.
After getting rejected by someone you love, being told "no" by a casting director doesn't hold the same sting. And while it might be painful to remember the past, what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger.
4. Keep old reviews.
Start a file of old reviews that were positive. (They should be complimentary to your performance in particular.) And next time you're having a bad career day, open that file and read about how talented you are.
5. Have somewhere to be.
After you're finished the audition, go have coffee with a friend, or a picnic with your spouse, or a tennis match, etc. Schedule something social that will be a fun distraction from the audition you just left.
The Audition Is the Work
The best method for dealing with rejection is to remember this: the audition is the work. Don't be discouraged because you didn't get the part. Instead, be excited because you can attend another audition tomorrow!
Focus on doing your best work in the audition room and don't worry about getting cast. If you do that, you actually increase your chances of getting the part.
The great entrepreneur Walt Disney said it best:
"You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."