Handling Rejection: 5 Tips for Actors

by | Feb 17, 2023 | Acting, Blog

They say we actors book one job out of every 100 auditions. This figure can vary greatly in either direction depending on a myriad of factors, but the point is, actors face a ton of rejection.

To add insult to injury, we rarely receive a formal rejection. We don’t actually get told “no,” and we don’t even get a text or email saying “we regret to inform you that production has decided to go in a different direction.” If we don’t book the job, we simply don’t hear back from anyone.

In other words, actors have been getting ghosted long before texting was a thing.

All of this rejection can be hard to take day in and day out. If we’re not careful, it can discourage us from sticking with it. It can even take a toll on our self-esteem. If we don’t bounce back from it, it can adversely affect our performance.

Here are five ways that can help actors cope with rejection. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it includes strategies I’ve tried. Your mileage may vary.

1. Put your all into your auditions

When it comes to auditions, focus only on what you can control. Prepare, prepare, prepare, and then execute. That means get off book, set up your self-tape gear to properly light yourself in front of a plain, solid-color background, frame yourself correctly, and know what your character is all about.

Photo by Vanilla Bear Films

By putting in 100% effort and doing your best, you can reasonably say that you weren’t rejected due to a lack of trying, a lack of talent, or a lack of work ethic. Leave it all on the table so you won’t be left wondering whether you could’ve, would’ve, should’ve done something different or better.

2. Cultivate other interests, hobbies, and activities

It’s easy to make acting your entire identity. It’s human nature. Even people with careers outside of showbiz tend to define themselves by their job titles. It doesn’t have to be this way. Try to live a full life. Get your mind off of rejection by pouring yourself into your day job, hobbies, and other
interests that provide creative outlets.

Photo by svklimkin

Personally, I enjoy working on my digital art, hitting the weights, and training in martial arts. I find it keeps me sane in between auditions and bookings. Read more about this topic at Jessica Cohen’s blog here: “Want to Be an Interesting Actor/Filmmaker? Get a Hobby!

3. Reframe it

As an actor, your job is to audition. Booking the job is the reward. If that sounds bleak, then acting might not be for you. To be completely transparent, reframing how I think about auditions doesn’t always work for me. But I’m including it here because it might work for you. Think of every audition as an opportunity to act, you know, instead of a nerve-racking interview and necessary evil of the biz. For that one brief moment, the floor is yours. You have the casting director’s and other gatekeepers’ attention. Put on a killer show! OK, I know, maybe you’re still not with me. A “no” is still a “no” and not a booking that helps pay your bills. I get it. Try thinking about this, then: everytime you’re requested to audition, it’s because someone has faith in you. You belong in that spot even if you don’t book it. That spot could’ve gone to someone else. Make the best of it. Oh and if that still doesn’t work for you, remember that you just might impress the casting director enough to call you in for more auditions in the future.

4. Choose (cast) yourself

Instead of waiting for someone else to take a chance on you, I encourage you to write, direct, and produce your own projects starring you. This can be one of the most challenging and educational experiences you can have as an actor. Even if it doesn’t lead you to viral video fame or a future mainstream booking, you’ll come out of it an even better actor. It teaches you a lot about screenwriting, the casting process, being on set, blocking, framing, and much more. You’ll also make fun connections with the rest of the cast and crew. Having written, produced, and starred in three short films, I can tell you that it’s incredibly rewarding to see your finished movie screen in front of audiences. Read more about making a short film from Tony’s blog here: https://bravemaker.com/5-reasons-you-should-make-a-short-film-now-by-tony-gapastione/

5. Take a break from the hustle

Hustle culture is a big thing these days. “Rise and grind” has become the mantra of almost every industry. If you follow The Rock, you know he’s in the gym by 4:00 or 4:30am. Then there’s Gary Vee always movin’ and groovin’ spitting out 100 pieces of content per second. In my early days, I used to chase down and submit myself for any and every casting breakdown that fit my description and then some. I’d go to actor networking events, filmmaker events, always hustling looking for that next opportunity. After a while, I realized I was just burning energy for the same amount of opportunities I’d get if I were to just relax a little. Take a break. Your mind, heart, soul, and body is your acting instrument. You need to take care of your instrument and allow yourself time to rest. Don’t grind yourself into a dull, little nub. If things are meant to be, they will be. You still may need to take some action, but it’s OK to slow down, breathe, and just have faith that everything will work out. When you’re re-energized, jump back in with both feet.

Photo by Clay Banks

Being an actor has unique challenges. We’re constantly seeking the next job and in many cases, we’re only as good as our last one. If we want to be in it for the long haul, it behooves us to use whatever strategies and tactics we can, within reason, to help us persevere and avoid burnout. I hope this list helps you on your journey.

Until next time, break a leg.