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The Ultimate Guide For Coping, Handling & Dealing With Rejection In Acting

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This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on REJECTION in Acting — why coping, handling & dealing with rejection doesn't work and how you can win the battle with feelings of rejection in your acting career:

Part 1 – [You Are Here] – Why Every Actor Should Be Deconstructing Rejection Instead of Trying To “Deal With It”
Part 2 – Rejection In Acting: How NOT To Take It Personally & Let It Roll Off Your Back (coming soon)
Part 3 – Rejection Re-Mix For Actors: 3 Steps To Handling Rejection That Actually Work (coming soon)

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Rejection sucks.

Sorry to be blunt, but it’s true, isn’t it?

Haven’t you felt that way when you get rejected for a role?

But here’s the rather surprising news about rejection…

Rejection doesn’t have to suck.

Not only that, but the pain of rejection can literally cease to exist from your emotional experience altogether as an actor.

Buh-bye.  Gone.

Wanna know how?

Good, stick with me for a bit and I’ll show you…

FIRST THING’S FIRST – FOCUS ON THE FEELING

In order to eliminate something, the first step is always awareness.

You may think you’re aware of what rejection feels like, but pay close attention because if you’ve been pained by rejection as an actor, I guarantee you’re missing one VERY important piece of the rejection puzzle.

Let’s take a deep dive into it and identify it.

The feeling.

The one that washes over you when you find out you didn’t get the role and just like that…POW!

Like you just got punched in the stomach.

Your heart sinks.

Your mind reels – rewinding the audition experience, wondering what you could have done differently…

Wondering why…why…why??!!!

And then…THUD!…

The sound of your heart sinking as you let go of all the dreams you had for how life would have changed when you got that part.

Sigh.

Sound familiar?

Of course!  What professional actor hasn’t experienced a version of the above rejection scenario?

That's why professional working actors, even famous ones always have something to say about rejection…Which is why I pulled together all these inspirational quotes by actors about rejection for you in another blog.

The reason why it’s so hard to deal with it — why it feels so bad — is because actually you’re focusing on the wrong thing.

Allow me to dissect it a bit further so you can see what I mean.

Let’s take a step backward.

DECONSTRUCTING REJECTION

First let's deconstruct rejection step-by-step. Let’s take a look “under the hood” at…

The 5 “Traditional” Stages Of  Rejection:

Stage 1:
You get the audition.

Stage 2:
You start getting excited about the possibility of getting the role and you get attached to the idea of booking it.

Stage 3:
You don’t get the role.

Stage 4:
You fall into a ditch…A sort of “ditch of emotional despair”. (The punch in the stomach – the THUD we spoke of earlier).

And, once you’re down in that deep, dark ditch, it’s hard to get out of it.  Eventually, you kind of crawl your way out (hopefully).  But it is really hard and it feels awful.

Stage 5:
This paradigm of rejection becomes even worse because then you have the dread of falling in the ditch again the next time you audition.

THE REJECTION MISTAKE YOU DON’T KNOW YOU’RE MAKING

Surprisingly, the painful misstep that you’re making, the one that’s causing all your pain from rejection isn’t from not getting the part.

Nope.

It’s because Stage 2 is actually two entirely separate things that you blended together and are experiencing as one.

You’ve coupled experiencing the EXCITEMENT about the idea of booking the role with the ATTACHMENT to that very idea.

EXCITEMENT MINUS ATTACHMENT EQUALS FREEDOM

When you rebuild the rejection process without that, it changes everything.

Your “New And Improved” Stages of Rejection:

Imagine this instead…

Stage 1:
You get the audition.

Stage 2:
You start getting excited about the possibility of getting the role.

You imagine what it feels like to have booked it. You picture yourself shooting it. You hear the director yell action and you begin to play the scene. You revel in the infinite possibilities of what your acting career could look and feel like when you book this role.

Stage 3:
You don’t get the role

Stage 4:
Since attachment to the outcome wasn’t a part of your paradigm, there is no ditch to fall into.

Stage 5:
There is no Stage 5.  It doesn't exist.

You just keep going.

You continue to focus on how good it feels to imagine yourself booking roles.  You choose to use your creative powers of imagination (the very ones that make you a gifted actor) to think, dream and feel what booking feels like as often as possible.

That’s a really good space for you to be in.

It’s a very powerful space because that’s the space from which you can actually create a positive outcome in your acting career.

deal with rejection-excitement not attachment

If you separate your excitement with the possibility of booking from becoming attached to that idea, you’re in a much better space to actually create success as an actor.

The reason is so simple.

Because attachment to the outcome is the part that drives you down into that ditch of despair.

The significance that you place on what you dream about.

It creates the ditch.

So in the old paradigm, if you don’t get the part, then of course you fall in the ditch of emotional despair because you attached yourself to the idea of getting it.

REWIND. REDO. REWRITE.

If you rewind and rewrite the way you “do” rejection by going back to that excitement feeling but never creating attachment to it, if you don’t get the role it’s not even a blip on your radar.

If you get it great; if you don’t get it great.

You feel good and you skip over all of that attachment, then if you don’t get it, there’s really no reason to fall down the ditch.

In fact, you can kind of look at a ditch and find that you will go, “oh look at that ditch!” and just walk around it.

Or, when you get really good at it, there’s just no ditch in front of you at all.

You don’t have to pick yourself up because you never fell down to begin with.

And the reason why rejection might have been so hard for you as an actor is because you’ve identified rejection with clawing your way out of that ditch, (which is deeply attached to the significance of getting the role).

REJOICE DESPITE REJECTION

And those components don’t actually need to be part of your experience as an actor.

You can still experience the excitement. You can still experience the imagination of the possibilities of what could happen — and you should.

Because the more you swirl around in good feelings, more good feeling thoughts come to you and the more good feeling experiences you have.

And there’s just more reasons to feel good.

And then rejection doesn’t matter.

REMEMBER…

As an actor, your ability to feel good should not be dependent on whether or not you book a role.

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That’s a really BIG deal for you to understand.

That excitement about you and your life and your acting career is absolutely not contingent upon the outcome of you booking a specific role (except through habit that you created by following the old rejection paradigm until perhaps this moment).

Once you understand the components that create the bad feelings around rejection, you can change them…

Now that you understand why you experience rejection pain, you can begin to dismantle it so the bad rejection feeling doesn’t happen.

Or if it happens, you can identify it and it begins to lose its power to control you.

WHAT'S NEXT…

Okay, now that we have shed light on the sequence of events creating rejection and eliminated one big catalyst for bad feelings around rejection in acting, what's next?

In Part 2 of this series on rejection, we will deconstruct & destroy the other big player in the game of rejection – “taking it personally”.  Then in Part 3, we will have some fun building your new step-by-step rejection re-mix.

Stay tuned…

Your turn! Was this blog on dealing with rejection as an actor helpful?  How did rejection affect you last time you didn't get the role? Tell me about it in the comments below… :-)

You DESERVE The Red Carpet!
~Amy

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Did Part 1 of this blog series on Dealing With Rejection In Acting help you? If so, I would greatly appreciate if you commented below and shared on Facebook

Amy Jo Berman - Acting Coach
Amy Jo Berman's Tips On Acting & Auditioning Blog
Email: Asst@AmyJoBerman.com

“I show actors how to be better, book more jobs and live The Red Carpet life!”

If you enjoyed Part 1 of The Ultimate Guide For Coping, Handling & Dealing With Rejection In Acting, retweet and comment please.

20 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    thanks AmyJo for this information it was very valuable info and I look forward to more words of wisdom from you

  2. James Christian Morris says:

    My last rejection was very recent. I had booked several projects, taking me to TN, GA, and Southern UT. Before those I had booked a role on an animated tv show that was back and forth in contact with me for 3 months, I had informed them that I would be out of town but available once I wrapped and returned but while I was gone they requested my availability to which I replied I’d be available once returned. I wrote them when I returned and was told a week later I’d been let go from the show. I was devastated and am still reeling, so it goes to show that even when you have it you can still lose it due to miscommunication.

    • AmyJoBerman says:

      So sorry to hear that James. There are so many reasons that could have happened. The most important thing to remember is that no one job is the be all end all of your career. I’ve seen actors rebound from situations just like you describe and actually be better for it. Focus on what’s around the corner. Good stuff is coming for you…

      • James Christian Morris says:

        Certainly! That was the attitude I took toward it as well, I attempted to communicate with them in a professional manner but quickly learned that it’s better to let go of a futile situation. I have pushed through and moved on to other rewarding productions, and am excited for new avenues to pursue.

  3. jerblaine says:

    I’ve always been ok with acting rejection it’s girl rejection that hurts me. I wonder if this can apply to that. I should not get attached to the girl then it won’t hurt as much. Interesting. Acting rejection only hurts a few times like when I really want the part which is that attachment. Great read thank you for the awesome advice as always!

  4. Mary McGahren says:

    Thank you Amy, this is great — releasing attachment to outcomes when you invest SO much and don’t book but don’t really know why or what to do (if anything) differently, but watch others book and really be happy for them and still believe it’s possible for you — is a true spiritual feat, and we actors have to do it all the time.

    I don’t want to suffer so much, I pursued acting because it’s what I love most, and for the biz part of it to affect me so deeply takes away all of my joy. It’s tough when there’s so much love and applause and attention when you book (“success”)…. and crickets, or “hang in there” or “maybe you should take a break” comments and awkward silences when you don’t. My acting community is VERY close knit; we all help each other with auditions, and frequently compete for roles and usually know it. We support each other in ways that are really wonderful, and we are all incredibly human.

    Definitely takes trust, faith, and willingness in order to release outcomes!

  5. Lynne Ashe says:

    I. Needed. This! Right now, I’m tickled because I’m working on a good project – (with lots of extra shooting days added!), but generally, I receive rejection. A LOT. And for those parts where I thought I nailed it and that I was the perfect type for the role — when I don’t hear anything or get a call back, I’m usually crushed, and I allow that rejection to have power over my confidence. THANK YOU Amy, for giving me a new way to think about rejection and reminding me that it’s just a normal part of the process in this joyous biz!

    • AmyJoBerman says:

      My pleasure to be of help Lynne! What’s really powerful that you said is that you “allow that rejection to have power over your confidence”. Being aware that you are allowing it means you can choose NOT to allow it. That’s power!

  6. monie lee Perez says:

    Your blogs are amazing. I know many of us don’t know you personally, but you are a jewel in many of our treasure boxes. Everything we need to know, you tell us and it’s awesome! My last rejection was pretty recent. I actually got the role, the lead role at that…. Put everything else away so I could focus and then one week before we were supposed to shoot, a new EP came in as recast everyone and put herself in the role is been studying for for 3 months. ?

  7. J JMarsh says:

    While I sort of understand what you’re saying I’m not so sure how one can get excited about something without becoming attached to it. If you visualize in your mind how great something could be don’t you automatically develop an attachment to it? Your excitement comes from wanting it and knowing there’s a possibility
    It might happen. This isn’t the same as thinking “wow it’d be cool if I won the lottery one day.” This is an actual audition for an actual role that could actually come true, so the dream is right there in front of you. I’m not being disagreeable here I just want to better understand how one can feel excited and enthusiastic about something (that actually could actually manifest) yet be detached at the same time. After all, if we completely detach from something that we want, do we really want it in the first place?

    • ahfclass says:

      Amy Jo, I have the same question about this seeming paradox of pursuing the dream with detachment, so I’m looking forward to seeing what you have to share!

  8. Herb Storyteller Ihenacho says:

    This was so helpful. I’ve been in a rut lately for this very thing. Attaching myself to the outcome and feeling bummed out and distraught not booking a once self assured role. Thank you for this step. It definitely aligns with th LOA and the Law of Detachment.

  9. Bricen Andrews says:

    …so what of those who have days that feels like being outside of a ditch,

    but only when they’re feeling good.

  10. Rasika Mathur says:

    woah. a dramatic turn in my last few hours since reading this yesterday and applying the phrase to other things. “create without attachment.” i think i have just gotten over career depression, feeling stuck and forgiven myself for some early other-job trauma Ive been carrying around for almost 2 decades! thank you amy jo for your incredible way with words of wisdom!

  11. Tim Fogliano says:

    Terrific article, and can apply to other things as well. Time to crawl out of the ditch!

  12. Ruth Natalie says:

    Really great article. A lot of self development work (if you want to call it that, I just call it Growing) talks about this idea of allowing yourself to revel in your feelings about wonderful things you would like in your life, no matter what the exact picture looks like on the outside. Over time, they begin to match up. I think Dr Wayne Dyer said ‘You will see it when you believe it.’ Again, great article, really switched on. Very appreciated. Thank you xx

  13. Sian D Francis says:

    After reading and digesting this article, feel very supported by these words that have lifted the weight and pressure – even though I feel my rejection is due to me not being fully prepared – lesson certainly learnt with coping strategies attached.

  14. Nick Horiatis says:

    Rejection is just one step closer to THE ROLE of the year.
    Thanks Amy for making me think about the emotional roller coaster of an audition notification and how I can take control of the ride.
    Keep up the good work as the patron
    saint for all us struggling actors.

  15. Carp Finley says:

    Great, thank you.

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