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How to Handle Rejection as an Actor

October 18, 2022

How to Handle Rejection as an Actor

As an actor, you will face rejection on a regular basis. It is important to learn how to deal with it in a healthy way so that it does not damage your self-esteem or career. Here are some tips for handling rejection as an actor gracefully.

What Are the Struggles of Being an Actor?

Being an actor can be a very rewarding career, but it is not without its struggles:

  • Actors must be extremely dedicated to their craft. They need to be constantly studying and honing their skills, so that they are always ready for the next audition or performance. 
  • They must be comfortable with rejection. Not every audition will result in a role, and even once an actor has landed a role, there is no guarantee that the project will be successful. 
  • Actors need to have a thick skin. They will receive plenty of criticism throughout their career, and they need to be able to take it without letting it get to them. 

Though it can be a tough road, actors who are able to overcome these challenges can find a great deal of satisfaction in their work.

Ready to forge your own path as an actor? Consider signing up for acting lessons – you can learn more about the benefits of doing so by watching the video below: 

How Do Actors Deal With Rejection?

Anyone who has ever pursued a career in acting knows that rejection is a constant part of the process. Casting directors, producers, and even audiences can be quick to judge and dismiss a performer. As a result, you must learn how to deal with rejection as an actor in order to succeed in the industry.

One of the best ways to deal with rejection is to have a thick skin. Actors need to be able to take criticism and use it to improve their craft. It’s also important to remember that not everyone will like you or your work. The most important thing is to keep putting yourself out there and believe in your talent.

Another way to deal with rejection is to use it as motivation. Every time you face a setback, use it as an opportunity to work harder and improve your skills. Remember, the more you audition, the better your chances are of landing that dream role. So don’t give up – keep pursuing your passion and you’ll eventually find success.

How to Handle Rejection as an Actor: Quick Tips

One of my college acting professors told us, “if you can’t handle rejection, find another major. Actors are rejected more than they’re cast. You will have to deal with rejection every day; and if you let it get to you, you won’t last long”. Those words stuck with me all these years: not only for their brutal honesty, but also because I wish I had asked her: how do we deal with all this rejection?

Fortunately, there are many A-list stars who can tell you stories of how they experienced rejection. If they can do it, why can’t you? Sure, we’re human: we all want to be loved and accepted; and actors, if they’re any good at what they do, are particularly sensitive. How can you experience and process rejection as an actor, and keep pursuing what you love?

It’s Not Personal

When you are rejected for a role, remember: your audition was rejected, not you personally. It’s not about you (except when it is*). They didn’t think you were what they were looking for in this part; that doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t be perfect for some other part that you haven’t auditioned for yet. It doesn’t mean you’re a terrible actor. Besides, think of it this way: being cast in a role that you’re not a good fit for is not the way to be set up for success. Shake it off, and work on booking the next audition.

 *Note: it’s not personal in most cases, but be sure you don’t inadvertently make it so. Avoid faux pas like arriving late, being rude to the people on site, being difficult or uncooperative with other actors attending the casting session. Remember, your audition begins the moment you walk in. 

You Have No Idea Why You Were Rejected, and That’s Good

A casting director once told me, “you’ll never know why they didn’t pick you, and that’s good.” It rarely has to do with talent: you may just not be what they’re looking for. You can be wrong for a role for so many reasons. You might be blonde, and they were looking for a redhead. You might be tall, and they want to cast someone who is closer in height to the co-star.

An actor friend told me a director thought he looked like her ex-husband; that killed his chances at getting cast for that role. Another actor told me she overheard the casting director say something about her “energy”. Okay…

These are things you have absolutely no control over, so don’t beat yourself up over it. However, another possibility is that you also might not have the experience level they are looking for, and the only way to remedy that is to keep at it. Jessica Chastain wasn’t cast for almost six years, but she kept working on her craft and herself every day. Eventually she got a break, and when she did, she was ready. 

Learn What You Can From It

an actor facing rejection

Sometimes, if we are rejected from an audition, we might have some idea of why things went that way. While it’s best not to dwell on the rejection or obsess about what you may or may not have done wrong, it doesn’t hurt to do some inventory of how things went. Did you avoid becoming overly flustered if you flubbed a line? Did you follow all the directions when given?

Did you smile, say hello, and leave with a “thank you”? Did you do everything possible to put your best foot forward? If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then just chalk it up to the preceding section (“You Have No Idea…”) However, if you look at those questions and begin to think, “Maybe I could’ve done this differently…”, consider it a hard but effective lesson to grow from. 

It’s part of the Job

Just like a chef gets burned on the stove, an actor gets rejected: it’s part of the job. Unless you’re one of a very small minority of celebrated actors who get to turn work away, you’re going to have to audition to be cast in a role. You will be auditioning for one part, and many other actors will be auditioning for the same part: for every one part that is cast, there are dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of actors who were turned down. Rejection is part of the work.

Just remember, for every rejection there’s another audition waiting for you. Rather than let the cloud of a past disappointment rain on your next tryout, take it in stride and look forward to a new and perhaps better opportunity

Can You Fail As an Actor?

No. You’ll only truly fail if you stop trying and improving.

Being an actor is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and talent. Unfortunately, even the most talented and dedicated actors will face rejection. The key is to not let rejection discourage you. Every “no” is one step closer to a “yes.” If you stop trying, then you have failed. 

However, if you keep pushing forward, then eventually you will find success. The key to dealing with rejection as an actor is to never give up on your dreams.

Rejection is an inevitable part of the acting process, but it doesn’t have to be a negative experience. In fact, if you can learn how to use rejection as an opportunity for growth, you’ll be better equipped to handle any obstacle that comes your way. 

By following these tips and signing up for some quality acting lessons, you can start turning those nos into yeses!

Hi! I've been a teacher all of my adult life--from coaching acting at summer camps, teaching high school theater, film and speech, English as a Second Language to students from middle school through adult professionals, research paper writing, education, and even yoga and martial arts! I love helping people discover new worlds, create new opportunities, and gain confidence through learning just about anything. The goal of a good teacher is to provide a space where the student has the tools to become successful, but still has a safe space to make mistakes and grow; and that's always the environment I aim to create in my sessions. I look forward to meeting you!

Laura Rebecca