We don’t like to talk about it, but we all think about it. Rejection is a big part of life, but almost seems like an even more integral part of the acting business. It’s never easy and it feels extremely personal. Am I good at it? My family thinks so. I know the truth, though… it still eats at me, even though I’m better at handling it than I used to be. I hope some of these tips can be helpful to you as you navigate your way through not only college auditions, but the rest of your life as an actor!
The other day, I had just signed onto a Skype lesson with a current MCA student. At that very moment, an email notification popped up on my screen… a rejection email. I read it and quickly told myself, “Eh, whatever.” Then as I started the lesson, I realized I totally didn’t feel that way at all, stopped my lesson, and told my awesome student… “I’m sorry. I just need a second. I just got a rejection and it feels really awful.” She knew how it felt and was so sweet. I took a minute to explain why it hurt and then told her, “This is good for you to see. It’s a teaching moment to see how your coach - who is supposed to be good at this - processes rejection.”
There you have it. We are all figuring this out. Your coaches - the people who are supposed to make everything better - still get hurt and still don’t have all the answers. If it bothers you, talk about it. It’s not a faux pas. Be honest with yourself that it hurt.
Then, move forward. Don’t let that hurt linger. You are already better today than you were yesterday because you are hard-working actors and good humans. Celebrate your accomplishments and keep working toward the next. Life is too short to wallow in it and there are too many opportunities waiting around the bend that require your specific talents!
“But my friends have already been accepted and are choosing between programs and I’m still waiting for just one acceptance!” Our MCA coach Justin Petersen says it best, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” While we spend time comparing ourselves to our peers, we rob ourselves of our unique qualities. What makes an interesting actor? An interesting person. If I’m trying to be more like my friend who is booking jobs left and right, I’ve become a photocopy version of my friend rather than a full color painting of myself.
Here’s a conversation I have with myself on a fairly regular basis:
“Why should I even bother? There are so many good people out there. No one wants me. I hate auditioning.”
“Then don’t. You can stop anytime you want. No one is begging you to be an actor. The world needs computer programmers. The world needs doctors. Go do that.”
“I don’t want to do that.”
“It may sound cheesy, but I feel like my purpose is to communicate something important to the world through art.”
“Okay… so your purpose is not about how much people like you or need you for these jobs?”
“Yeah, I’ll go back and audition. My ego was bruised. It’s not about my ego. It’s about something bigger. The right thing will come along eventually.”
We are inherently selfish people. How can we not be? Our only experience of the world is through our own eyes. BUT part of what makes being an actor so rewarding is that you can learn to make everything less about you and more about others. When you go into that college audition room, make those auditors feel something - joy, excitement, hope, pain, growth! They need to feel! You have a few minutes to give an experience to others that’s wholly different from anyone else.
“What happens if I make them feel great in the room, but they still don’t accept me?” Casting is a puzzle. I recently helped cast a show and it was difficult. Some people came in and killed it and technically deserved a lead, but you have to consider the whole. Some people can fit almost anywhere and others can only fit into specific parts because of voice type, acting ability, or dancing ability. The same can be said for colleges. If I have 12 slots to fill, I can only have so many of each type. If I have three amazing leading lady types who are all more talented than my leading man, I still have to have a leading man, so one or two of those ladies gets told no. It didn’t mean she wasn’t good enough to be in the program. This is why you audition for so many programs. You’ll fit somewhere in the puzzle; it just depends on the other puzzle pieces.
No matter what happens, you have a place in this world and in this business if you want it. The way I’ve learned to handle it over the years is to remember that if no one wants me for a while, then it’s time for me to create my own projects. I’m not good at just taking classes without a goal. So, I set myself a personal goal… create a gig for myself - forcing myself to write a script, sing, play my instrument, etc., or my friends and I create something together. The world needs inspiration. I can’t give the world hope if I’m hopeless. So, I let myself be sad and then I get to work.
Acting for the Song Coach - My College Audition
Erica is a NYC based actress and an Acting for the Song Coach for My College Audition. www.ericaspyres.com
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