“Unfortunately, we are unable to offer you the role/audition slot at this time.”
If you’ve ever heard these words, or received an email containing this statement, then congratulations, you’re an actor.
Yes, a legendary part of this business is the process of rejection: of trying our damndest to out-sing and dance every person and to out-emote a baby doll (those weird ones that cry real tears), yet still being told we’re not what they’re looking for. After hearing this, we go through an actor’s version of the five stages of grief, which are as follows:
Denial: we believe that they must have mixed us up with someone else who auditioned who just happens to look just like us. We’ll be getting a call with a profuse apology and a contract in no time.
Anger: HOW DARE THEY NOT SEE ME FOR THE TALENTED, MARVELOUS AND BEAUTIFUL CREATURE I AM!!! THEY’RE IDIOTS I TELL YOU, IDIOTS!!!!
Bargaining: Maybe if I keep sending them postcards, mailings, weird gifts showing my creativity, they’ll come to their senses and realize I am The One.
Depression: I’m not good enough.
Acceptance: I really wasn’t what they’re looking for, there will be other auditions.
Now, while we all go through these stages, the most difficult part can be dealing with everything as impersonally as possible. This, my dear friends, is one of the hardent parts of being an actor. We are trained to be so emotionally available and vulnerable in our work, the constant rejection can effect us in a way it might not other people. And you’re not alone, it happens to every actor (if anyone tells you that they kill it at every audition they go to and have no insecurities, they’re lying). Hell, it’s even worse for us actors with AS (the few, the proud, the Aspies). Despite the common depiction of us as being Spock-like robot people who have no sense of emotion, we actually tend to get over-invested emotionally in certain situations. So when the rejection comes yet again, our hypersensitivity kicks into overdrive and we find ourselves shut in our rooms listening to our favorite emo bands of the ’00s (my favorite is Evanescence). However, regardless of whether or not you have AS, I have a coping mechanism that works for me, and I believe can work for all actors. Here it is:
Let it go.
Yes, it’s not just an extremely catchy yet overplayed Disney song, Let it Go is also a great mantra to deal with rejection. But how, you may ask, can one “let it go?” We can’t run away from our problems by freezing everything then creating a fabulous ice castle and an even more fabulous outfit with our sadly non existent ice powers (I know, it was hard for me to accept, too). But like Elsa, we can distract ourselves from whatever large or small disappointments we’ve experienced, and we don’t have to create an eternal winter to do so. Some of my favorite things (look ma, I’m Oprah!) to do after a rejection are taking dance classes, voice lessons, curling up with a good book, binging Once Upon a Time and Breaking Bad on Netflix (shameful confession: still haven’t finished the latter), going to the gym, going for a walk or just doing something for me. In my experience, keeping your mind and body busy are not only great ways to distract yourself, but are also just nice things to do for yourself, especially after all the BS we actors go through. Plus, for those of you that chose to take dance, sing or go to the gym, your distraction is actually helping you hone your craft (WINNING). If you find a way to keep yourself busy, you’ll find rejection rolling off you like water off a duck’s fluffy ass. Plus, with everything that’s happening in the world today, it always helps to look on the bright side of life and treat yo self.