In a perfect theatrical world, rejection never happens. Unfortunately, we live in New Jersey, which means that our world is FAR from perfect. Rejection is quite the common event in the acting world. All actors around the world personally feel as though they are perfect for a certain role, and when they don’t get it, or if they aren’t cast at all – the world ENDS. Let’s be honest, actors are very sensitive creatures (yes, creatures). Any time an actor hears “No, thank you” or a simple “No”, that pretty much means the world mind as well just blow up. In fact, when an actor (especially a NJ community theater actor) hears no, here are some of the catastrophies that the rejected actor will deem acceptable:
- Any and all countries are now allowed to nuke the United States.
- God is allowed to send another flood to wipe out civilization.
- Honey Boo Boo now has the rejected actor’s vote for President.
- The Affordable Healthcare Act will be accepted.
In other words, when an actor hears “No”, it is at that point in time that the world should just end.
Non-actors may think I am over-exaggerating, but all of us in the performing community know that this is an acceptable mindset that is practiced after every set of auditions.
I bring all of this up because the production staff of Les Mis is finally starting to make the calls to cast the show. (I know they are not officially casting the show yet, so give them some time to get back to everybody.) Some people were cast in their dream roles. Others wanted their dream roles, but were cast as the underestimated (and very important) ensemble of Les Mis. And others are simply not joining the show at all.
I, personally, had a couple dream roles I would have loved to play in Les Mis, and I was not cast as any of them. Bummer? Yes. But it is really okay because people do not realize how many times I have heard “No” in my theatrical career. I have, fortunately, built up a very tough skin in this profession, and while it may sting, I will survive … I will survive …. I will survive (hey, hey!)
So, with that said, here are FIVE WAYS that I go about dealing with rejection in theater:
ONE – KEEP IN MIND THAT ACTING IS LIKE A BUSINESS: Sure, acting is a type of art. But you gotta remember that the people casting the show have a business to run. In order for their business to succeed, they have to choose the best people for the job. A majority of the time, it is not just about your talent. Not being cast can be attributed to a lot of different things: your height, your weight, your hair color, your voice part, or your incredibly bad breath. (Brush your teeth!!)
TWO – IN THE WORDS OF LEGALLY BLONDE, “KEEP IT POSITIVEEEEEEEE”: Okay, so you weren’t cast. Or you weren’t cast in the role you wanted. Fine. Take some time to let it sting for a second, but then take three things that you feel you did well at the audition/callback and focus on that. If you focus on the positives of this audition experience, you’ll be able to build stronger and better audition habits for the future … something that will boost your confidence. Sooooo… KEEP IT POSITIVEEEEEEEEEEE! *Hair Flick*
THREE – USE THE NEGATIVE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE: Okay, so remember how two seconds ago I told you to focus on the positive? Now I want you to slightly focus on the negative too. (Hypocrite cocktail, please. Shaken, not stirred.) Take the time right now to focus on a time that you had your heart broken, or went through a break-up, or a divorce, or losing someone, or that time you accidentally (and audibly) farted during your first kiss (or was that just me?)… think about that and realize that not being cast or not getting the role you wanted just doesn’t hold the same type of STING. Yes, it is painful to think about the past, but as Kelly Clarkson said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” (That’s the only Kelly Clarkson lyric I know…)
FOUR – LOOK FOR OTHER AUDITIONS: C’mon, this one is a gimme. You weren’t cast in Les Mis? Oh well! There are a shit-ton of other auditions out there! Are you angry? Fine, use that anger to book yourself another gig! Go on Backstage.com and look for some professional work! (I give you permission to cry over your laptop while you’re doing so.)
FIVE – GO SOMEWHERE AND DO SOMETHING, HAVE SOMEWHERE TO BE: Go get drinks with a friend, go bury the dead body of a squirrel, go lose your life savings on Blackjack … it doesn’t matter what you do, just go out there and do it (as long as it’s legal and won’t kill anyone … I’m looking at you Rob Ford of Toronto…) Just schedule some sort of social escape to serve as a fun distraction from your rejection.
Listen, rejection doesn’t have to be as bad as it sounds. But if you are ever feeling down about not getting cast or not getting the role that you wanted, always remember that you shouldn’t be discouraged that you didn’t get the part. All you can do is focus on your honing your craft. That’s it! Give it your all, ALWAYS.
I believe it was Walt Disney who once said the following:
“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
Break legs to the entire cast and crew of Les Miserable at Kelsey. From the little I know so far, the cast is definitely full of some very talented and well deserved performers. I can’t wait to come support you all. 🙂