Coping With Rejection

You’ve got the agent, you’ve got the headshots, you’ve got a professional demo reel and your resume is proudly on your agency’s letterhead. Your agent and manager are successfully selling you to casting directors and producers and you’re getting in the room several times a week for a variety of projects—television, film, web series and even commercials. For some reason, though, you’re not booking the jobs. It’s dejecting and disheartening and one of the most difficult parts of being an actor—going in for auditions and having the door closed in your face over and over again. Sometimes even if your agent asks for feedback for you, the responses are not super helpful—you just “weren’t the right look” or “not the guy” for the part. It’s hard, sometimes, to face and dissect the rejection—but it can be necessary in order to figure out how to improve your craft. Here are a couple of tips on pushing through those difficult times and coming out the better actor because of it:

1. Make sure you’re giving it your all. Prior to your audition, your agent has likely pitched you to the casting director, supplied them with your picture, resume, and demo reel, and talked you up to ensure you’ll be seen for a particular role. If you know your agent, you know that’s their job and they’re likely good at it (see: What Your Agent Does for You). When it’s time for you to go into a room, it’s all up to you. It’s important to be prepared and educated on the project—go in there having read and studied the sides, having read the script, and knowing the lines—and know who you’re going to meet in the room. Most often, your agency will provide that information to you when they send you the appointment information—if they don’t, it’s not terrible to ask. Be educated about the role; understand the tone of the script and don’t play the role comically if it’s obviously dramatic or vice versa. The most important thing you can do is go into the audition prepared.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re at a loss to why you’re not doing well, and feedback from casting isn’t helping. You still have valuable resources at your fingertips, however—your team. Your agent and manager aren’t there to just pitch you to casting directors, because if you’re not booking, then all the pitching in the world isn’t going to get you in the room. Your agents and manager want you to succeed, because, like all businesses, show business is about money—and you booking jobs benefits everyone on your team. So, ask ‘em. Ask them their professional opinion to why they think you’re having a hard time booking jobs. In the end, it might be an answer that surprises you: for example, it might be that you’re a part of a “type” that currently has an over-saturation of actors just like you. Or, it could be that there are less roles for your age bracket and specialty . . . the list goes on. But, once you know these things, your team can discuss with you what your next move should be. Maybe your strong suit is comedy, but there are a lot of twenty-something roles out there right now for CW dramas. They might suggest an acting coach to hone your skills in other genres, or talk to you about reaching out to other mediums (short films, commercials, web series, etc). You might not always love what they have to say, but it’s important to be up for change if the professionals in your life suggest you making some, as long as they’re within reason.

3. Finally, know that you can’t control everything. First and foremost, many times when you go in to read for casting directors and producers and don’t get the job, it’s not necessarily your fault. You may fit the character description on the breakdown physically and can properly embody the character through your actions and emotions, but sometimes you’re just not “it”—the actor that the powers at be “see” in the role they’re casting. Perhaps you’re a couple of inches too short to play against the actress that will be the love interest, or maybe they are so focused on a certain “type” that anything else is moot—but you are who you are and you can only BE who you are. Going into a room and playing a role to play a role? It’s not helpful. You must have the confidence that you’re capable of playing the character, that you can do justice to the role despite the fact that you might not be everything they’re looking for. If it doesn’t pay off, it doesn’t pay off . . . but that doesn’t mean you didn’t give it your all.

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tara McGrath started her career in entertainment mainly because she couldn't see a life where she wasn't surrounded and inspired by actors in some way or another. After graduating from SUNY Purchase's Conservatory of Theatre Arts and Film with a degree in Screenwriting, she worked for a year at Roundabout Theatre Company in New York. Interning under their casting department with casting directors Carrie Gardner and Jim Carnahan, she assisted in casting such productions as Spring Awakening, American Idiot and Fox's hit show, Glee. From there she moved 3,000 miles to Los Angeles and for the last year has been working for a well-known boutique talent agency in West Hollywood. She has also worked as a reader and marketing assistant for the Blue Cat Screenwriting Competition and has worked on independent features as both producer's assistant and P.A.

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