In Acting or Comedy, Don't Call It Rejection

Seriously. Don't. It's cringeworthy to hear. From comics, it sounds desperate, and from actors it sounds whiney.

I've been going on auditions for commercial and feature work for three years now. I've been involved with theater, and acting regularly since I was eleven years old, and had an interest in it well before that. I'd even watch movies 3-4 times before we had to return them to the video rental store.

The story you tend to hear a lot is how famous actors faced a lot of "rejection" before their big break. "I heard 'no' a lot," is a quote that I can't attribute to any particular person, article, or blog on acting, but it's a trope I know I've seen. There were never any details about the 'rejection', the worst was left to the wandering mind. I imagined casting directors, and industry professionals stopping someone mid-audition, spitting on them, and telling the person to 'get out of my office & never show your face again!" That's what I imagined this "rejection" was. After all, it has to be pretty awful for someone to be talking about it. Surely no one would ever make themselves out to be a struggling hero for the sake of a story, right? That's the kind of "rejection" my childhood mind had hodge-podged together.

The reality of what I encountered, & what I've experienced has been-- well, I can't think of a bad experience. The audition process takes anywhere from 30 seconds or more, & the only comments I hear about an audition performance (for myself and others) is the standard, "Ok. Thank you! That's it!" or "I really liked that one." The idea of outright rejection in the room is absurd. The only thing close is when your agent or the production company follows up their "you are being considered for the role," with a "you didn't book the gig." Even then, later, when I'd see the commercial I auditioned for, the look they were going for was completely out of my control in regards to a persons sex or genetic makeup.

On the other side of things (this is far less common), there have been a handful of occasions when I was told I did not book the gig. That they went with someone else only to have the production contact me anywhere from 2hrs to two days later saying they did want me after all! That there was miscommunication somewhere along the line, or their original choice couldn't commit to the shoot dates. There have even been low paying gigs that after I was signed on for them, went union & resulted in a huge bump in pay.

When I first started, I felt like I was doing great. I was booking a photo shoot here, a commercial (non-union) there. Eventually an agency recruited me about 6mo. in. I came in hot booking 1 in 5 auditions.

Within a year I had booked my first big union gig, with my friend no less! It was slated to be an international Microsoft commercial. We had a photo shoot. We had video. Then what do you think happened? Obviously we were both cut out of it, and the thing only aired briefly in Japan.

Things were still going strong until the holidays of 2016. I hit a dry spell that stretched long into 2017. Self booked a little, fun web-spot, but if you discount that it's been 10mo. of going out, and booking nothing. I stopped counting after a certain number of auditions and callbacks with nothing to show for it. Got put on hold at least a dozen times. Always got released.

There are times when I wouldn't feel good about an audition. That's the only thing in your control here. As long as you leave that room, and you don't feel embarrassed, or one bit regretful about your performance, then you did everything you could this time around.

As for that dry spell? Well, the casting directors are still auditioning me. Most of us are on a first name basis even. One had me audition for a feature in June. Found out I was on hold in July. They told me what the project was mid-July. A bit part in a blockbuster franchise, and I booked it! I knew for four months. Told no one for 3 and 1/2 months after the fitting. I was a Must Pay for the union, and am now SAG/AFTRA. We wrapped my two days of shooting back in September. Here's a photo from the hotel.

View from the hotel.

So don't call it rejection. Instead, ask yourself what you could change the next time you audition, or perform a bit that didn't go as well as you'd hoped. Being honest with yourself can be the hardest thing to do, but if you're not, who will be?