“As actors, we have to deal with rejection so much more than any other business. So I don’t care how much of a genius you are, if you don’t have the propensity to be able to get back up every time you get knocked down, then you’re not going to survive.” — Ryan Kwanten
If you looked in the manual for “How to Become an Actor”, being able to handle rejection would probably be somewhere on the first page. Being an actor, or trying to become an actor is going to require you to face rejection dead in the face on a regular basis. Rejection just comes with the territory of wanting to be an actor. The only thing you can control is how you handle it, how you move on from it and take it with a grain of salt, without a damaged psyche and dwindling self-confidence.
So what are some of the steps in ensuing damaged control and making sure rejection doesn’t break you? We’ve listed some of the ways to go about it below.
Try not to take it personal: One of the biggest things in the film industry is that there are so many people vying for the same roles and the same opportunities. The industry is a competitive beast. So when you’re going out for a part, there are most likely 1,000 others who look like you and have the same level of talent. Actor, Sylvester Stallone (Rambo) says “I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get me going, rather than retreat.“ You can’t take it personally when you aren’t selected for the part, or didn’t get a callback. The casting director’s job is to find the right person for the role; it’s not to make sure nobody’s feelings get hurt. It doesn’t mean they didn’t like you, in fact they may have loved you, but you just didn’t fit the exact criteria for what they were looking for in that role. Its up to you to deliver your best performance and leave the audition at the door.
Listen to what they’re saying: The most honest things are often the hardest for us to take. So when an acting coach, or somebody that sees our work gives us some unpleasant feedback, we really need to do our best to listen to what they’re saying. Bare in mind, there’s a difference between constructive criticism and somebody who’s just trying to break you apart. It’s important that you listen to their feedback and distinguish between the two yourself. If it’s from a trusted source, or somebody you respect, it’s definitely going to be worthwhile to listen to what they said and see what you can apply for the next time to make it better. This is easier said than done, but do your best to not get super emotional and sensitive when somebody rejects you or turns you away. Find out what they think you need to work on, so you can get better.
Get Better: Drake has a famous line from one of his songs, “don’t get bitter, just get better”. This definitely applies to actors as well. When you get rejected, instead of responding with anger and resentment that does nothing but boil your own blood, you need to work on your stuff and become better. Use it as fuel to your fire in improving your craft and becoming a better actor. You need to say to yourself, “Okay, what can I do to get better?” If you can walk away from rejection with that sort of positivity and action, you will eventually start to succeed in a very big way. At the very least, you won’t sit in a pity stooper when you get rejected, but instead, keep your head up and make the best of the situation.
Stay Persistent: Every successful person will tell you that they had to handle rejection on countless occasions. They had to deal with doors being slammed in their face, people telling them they weren’t talented, or were crazy, or people who didn’t believe in them. If you don’t have the ability to bounce back from rejection with unwavering enthusiasm, then you will have a tough time succeeding in an industry as tough as the film industry. Talent Agent, Anne Marie Perrault says, “Prepare yourself that the rejection will come, but be sure that you love what you’re doing and you’re going to continue to work at it and get better until those “No’s” starting turning into Yes’s”. If you commit yourself to it, work hard through training and stay persistent, your success will only be a matter of time.”
Sure rejection sucks and forces us to retreat back into our shells for a while, but it’s all about the bounce back. It’s all about working at it, getting the right mind set, working on your skills, and making sure you have the right attitude so that bounce back time is faster every time. Pretty soon you will develop the thick skin that is required of an actor, and rejection will be nothing more than an opportunity for you to go through another door with someone else who sees the potential in you.
It’s up to you and how you let it affect you. Rejection will only break you if you let it.