Bouncing Back: Tips to Beat Rejection and Get Back in the Game

Let’s face it, a career in acting can be rough on the old self-esteem. The most successful actors know this to be a game where the losses far outnumber the wins. Even Hollywood A-Listers boast long resumes of rejection. But it’s one thing to know that intellectually, and quite another to face slap after slap of rejection without any light at the end of the tunnel. The most professional among us can get bogged down by it.

  1. Allow Disappointment. There is no shame in feeling and expressing disappointment over losing a role. In fact, acknowledging these feelings can be healthy and help you move on. Give yourself some boundaries. Allow yourself 24 hours to really feel the loss of the big ones, then promise yourself you’ll move forward. Letting yourself grieve is important, but don’t let it consume you. Acknowledge it, feel it, move past it.
  2. Practice Self-care. Devise your own strategies for staying positive. Whatever works for you. Take yourself out for your favorite coffee after auditions. Watch your favorite movie in your moments of wallowing. Talk to the people in your life who keep you grounded and focused. Keep your life outside of your acting career balanced, fulfilled and healthy so you have the resiliency to survive moments of heartbreak.
  3. Learn from it. Rejection can make you feel helpless and out of control. Combat this by taking action. Once the initial sting has faded, analyze where you think your audition might have been strengthened. Consult your colleagues and coaches. Work on your craft and make yourself a stronger competitor. Taking control of your career in a positive way will help you move on faster and yield better future results.
  4. Seek new opportunities. As you’re refining your technique, keep submitting and auditioning! Seek new projects and new opportunities. Having something to work on and look forward to will help lift your spirits and focus your energy. Always be reaching for the next door. Eventually one will open.
  5. Keep it in Perspective. This one is probably the hardest. In a career that requires so much emotional investment, it can be almost impossible to separate yourself from your job. I struggle with this constantly. But remember. At the end of the day, your worth as a person is not defined by your success as an actor. And success can come in many different forms. Strive to view your career as that–a career. Not your soul, not yourself, not your personality. Lend it your skill and your time and your passion, but don’t let it dictate the entirety of your self-perception. Even the best gig will end, and you have to be able to pick up the pieces of yourself and keep growing.

 

Rejection is built into the foundation of an actor’s career. It is inescapable. Remaining open and vulnerable while acting, and at the same time developing a thick skin as a working actor, can seem an impossible task. Start with simple strategies. Listen to your emotional needs and balance them with your professional needs. Brush yourself off. Recenter. Keep your eyes up and keep moving.

 

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Rachel Rachel Frawley is an actor living in Atlanta. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University (with cognates in Music and Professional Writing) and is an Apprentice Company graduate from the Atlanta Shakespeare Co. She also works as an education artist for local theatres, which have included the Shakespeare Tavern and Aurora Theatre. For more information, visit her website at www.rachelfrawley.com

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