By Margherita Schatten
When you start getting into acting, it’s not like starting any other kind of job. You need to have a clear mind about what you want and understand that it won’t be easy. First things first - there's a lot of work involved, before you've even auditioned! Some of things you will have to do include setting a budget, attending classes, applying for jobs, going to auditions, taking headshots, creating showreels, writing cover letters, building your personal brand social media, building connections and so on.
But even after that - no matter how much time or money you put into your success - it sadly doesn’t guarantee your dreams will come true. You've invested all your money in getting everything sorted, hoping with all your heart you will have the gig and then... then what? It’s a big fat no. How can you overcome that feeling in the pit of your stomach, and remain confident for future auditions?
THE FEELING OF REJECTION
You immediately start overthinking and asking yourself, ‘what did I do wrong? How could I have acted differently? Oh, I should have done it another way, I knew it!’ Even worse, you start doubting, that maybe you’re not as talented as you thought.
If this is not the case for you...Congratulations! You’re a very confident and successful person. Unfortunately for some of us, this can occur. You get rejected and start questioning your talent and self-worth. So eventually you might even consider giving up.
But did you know that even multiple rejections do not mean you are a bad actor?! Yeah, that’s right.
Okay, I know you hear this all the time: ‘never give up!’ ‘seize the day!’ ‘you are what you feel’.
We also know that saying it is way easier than doing it. So what can we do to make sure we don’t let ourselves down for real? I will come to this point soon enough, but first... story time!
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCES WITH REJECTION
My first rejection was exactly as you would imagine: I found an opportunity and, full of hope, attended the audition. I prepared a monologue - the last one that I had performed at my drama class, a couple of weeks before, which was really dramatic. But I thought I was good.
That was a great opportunity for me. I was so excited I had the chance to showcase my talent. However, while I was performing, I didn’t see any kind of shift in the lady’s blank expression, and it just seemed like she was super bored. I obviously then never heard back from her.
So, what do you think happened? That’s right, I started doubting my acting skills. I thought maybe I should have studied more before turning up. Or that I maybe just wasn’t good enough. And even worse, I started believing that what they were looking for, was just another level. I started thinking maybe turning up to that audition was a bad idea.
HOW DID I CHANGE MY MINDSET?
Now hear me out, it sounds really cliche’, but you need to work hard on your self-beliefs. You can definitely do it. If you really love and dream about acting night and day, then you will overcome every negative feeling. And I learned with experience, that we sometimes need to work on our own weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
Also, it is very important to aim high - but don’t set your mind on any kind of outcome, good or bad. Just do your thing and hope for the best. If it doesn’t go well, just shake it off and move on.
And if they say “yes”, don’t give up everything you already have because you think this is your big break! Make sure you have a plan B or just be 100% sure this is a good opportunity, before leaving your long-term job, but you know what I mean. We need to dream, but we also need to understand that reality is brutal and if it seems too good to be true, maybe give it another thought.
Moreover, one huge reminder to yourself: EVEN BIG MOVIE STARS GET REJECTED! This is merely because if you are not suitable for the role, you could be the greatest actor in the world and still not book the job. Everyone knows how Meryl Streep, J.K. Rowling, Jennifer Anniston, Steve Jobs and many many more, all got rejected multiple times before having a huge success in their careers. So, why shouldn’t this be the same for you too?
That being said, be careful to not compare yourself to others - look up to them instead. We all come from different backgrounds and had different experiences, their outcome can never be yours.
FIVE TIPS FOR OVERCOMING THE FEELING OF REJECTION
Here are some motivational tips you can treasure for anytime you have been let down and feel you are not worth it.
- Being positive is fundamental to keep your mind sane and focused. If you waste your energy on futile things you will never reach what you want in life. It’s also important to turn negative things into new opportunities. You know the expression, when a door closes, another opens.
- Don’t take it personally. You haven’t been rejected, because you are not good, nor because you can’t act. The reason is probably that you are not what they need. You might just not fit the character or not be what they have in mind. So don’t be hung up on that, just let it go and move on. You will have plenty of other opportunities!
- Try to get as much feedback as possible. Even if it’s definitely not personal, it is still good to know how you did, especially from professionals. In some cases, you can also apply other times and having known your mistakes, this could result in you booking the job next time!
- Simply, just keep trying!It won’t be a no forever. I like to believe in the law of averages. Meaning, if they say no multiple times, at some point you will have a yes!
- Last but not least, get specialized in something. Find something your best at/ you really enjoy doing amongst everything else and focus on that. Be unique and put your heart into it. You’ll see how people will start seeing your passion too. It will also give you great ideas and the feeling of rejection will be suddenly worthless.
I know, it can take some time to apply these and keep focused on overcoming this feeling. But when you find yourself falling into the loop of 'rejection', what do you do?
Just stop. Step back for a second and ask yourself: “How could I use this? How can I turn this into something useful for my career? What can I get out of it?” This, I assure you, will change the perspective of your rejection a lot.
Keep in mind, acting is an art. And like any art, you need to be really passionate about it. If it’s fame and money you seek, well maybe these things won’t work for you. On the other hand, if you do love the art of acting and it’s your absolute dream, hold on to this feeling, and you will reach every star in the sky!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Margherita has been acting since she was a kid in school plays and started training when she was 13 years old. A few years later, after founding her theatre company in Rome, Margherita took part in two Theatre Festivals, where her group won the ‘Jury’s Special’ Award. She then moved to London, where she took part in the show ‘Yerma’ produced by ‘Magnetico Theatre Company’, as Maria. She also shot a Short Movie with Simple Idea Productions. She is currently represented by Lucinda Leon Management.