Acting Reflections: "Unfortunately, At this Time..."
I wanted to reach out to express the immense gratitude (XXXXXXXX), myself, and (XXXXXX) Theatre have for you sharing your gift with us in your audition for (XXXXXXXX). (XXXXXXXX) and (XXXXXXXXX) were completely blown away by the art we had the privilege to witness in these auditions. We are entirely humbled that you chose to share yourselves with us.
We had more people audition for this show than ever before at (XXXXXXXXX), and the level of talent, passion, and honesty that was brought to the table was staggering.
Unfortunately, at this time I do not have a callback invitation to extend to you.
From the bottom of our hearts, please continue to make your art. The world deserves it.
Of course, your materials will be kept on file for future consideration, and we sincerely hope to see you in our audition room again. Hi Nessa,
We wanted to thank you for submitting for (XX), our team thought you delivered a really wonderful audition. Unfortunately, we've decided to go with someone else for the part. This was not an easy decision and we greatly appreciate you taking the time to audition with us, as we will definitely keep you in mind for future projects. Wishing you all the best with your next roles and look forward to any future collaborations!
Thank you for your interest in working with (XXXXXXXXXX) Theatre and the virtual reading of (XXXXXXXXXXXXX). While we were very impressed with your audition, we have now cast the reading. We encourage you to send us your resume and photo for future consideration. Thank you again and we look forward to the possibility of working with you in the future. Hello, Thank you so much for your interest in our workshop readings of (XXXXXXXXXXXXXX) by (XXXXXXXXXXXXX). After much deliberation, we have cast the show and are unfortunately unable to offer you a role at this time. Thank you again for your application, and we hope to see you audition for the world premiere production of this piece in 2022. Hello, This is a message for everyone who had expressed interest in auditioning for the (XXXXXXXXXXXXX) production of (XXXXXXXXXXX). First off, thank you all so much for your wonderful auditions and video submissions. The tremendous volume of candidates - nearly 200 applicants for 10 acting positions - truly speaks volumes as to our collective desire to produce art and theatre during such a trying time. It is refreshing to know that there are so many kindred spirits out there. If you are reading this and have not already been contacted by me with a role offer, then that does mean you have not been cast at this time. We will be announcing the cast lists on our Facebook page soon. Once again, thank you so much for auditioning. It truly was a joy watching so many of you perform Shakespeare. I hope you will audition for (XX), and I wish good fortune on all your future endeavors. It doesn't matter how it's worded, or how polite it's trying to be... Rejections freakin' SUCK. Especially if you're an actor. It's never a pleasant feeling to receive an email or message from the production team or staff member you auditioned for saying that you didn't make the cut. It especially hurts when you feel like you put forth your best effort and felt very proud and happy with the results of your audition or self-tape and you still receive a rejection. And it definitely bogs you down when you receive a whole bunch of rejections. In a row. Makes you wonder if you should have separate folder just for rejections to have in order to number how many you've received before finally getting cast in the next production or project. And do you know what also sucks about receiving rejections? The expectations society places on us to bounce back from something that hurts so deeply, especially in times like these. You're only allowed 1-2 days, or even several weeks, before you have to jump right back in again and go on with your daily life. Tell me something: If you've just received devastating news about losing a loved one, and you're only given about 3-4 days to grieve and you're expected to be at work again the following day after that time period, how would you feel? I'd be pretty upset. And I would be struggling to pick up the pieces and try to move on after losing someone so near and dear to my heart. It's the same with rejections for us actors. If we've put in the hard work, memorized our lines, had our auditions or self-tapes to as close to perfection as possible, and actually felt good about them only to be told that you're not cast, and you're expected to only grieve an opportunity for a while and jump back in again, it makes us feel worse instead of better. At least from my perspective, anyway. Then again, I'm an EXTREMELY sensitive person, so any email or message with bad news concerning a self-tape or audition I did is likely going to hurt me deeply. Even as I wrote this, I just received another rejection for a project I wanted to be a part of, and it doesn't help that I received two rejections earlier this month for opportunities I thought I would be a great fit for. And as you can imagine, I'm trying very hard not to cry. But in the end, I may just have to do so just to let it all out. What about you? How do you feel when you see the words "unfortunately, at this time" or "we're unable to cast you"? How do you grieve a lost opportunity you thought would be right for you? And more importantly, how do you allow yourself time to heal and get back to submitting self-tapes and going to auditions again without further damaging your mental and emotional health, no matter what society tells you? I already peeled off the bandage from reliving the rejection emails, but I can tell you this week's post is especially going to be painful. We're looking at rejections. And we're going to discuss why it hurts so bad, how we grieve, how we can allow ourselves all the time in the world to let it all out and slowly pick up the pieces, and even how we can start trusting in ourselves and the universe that the right opportunities will come along in due time. You probably might need some tissues, ice cream, or a good strong drink for this one.
Let's go back to basics on this one. What exactly does "rejection" mean? Well, from the dictionary, the noun form means the dismissing or refusal of a proposal, idea, etc. If you're in a romantic relationship, the noun form of the word means the spurning of a person's affections. The verb form of rejection (to reject) means to refuse to accept, consider, submit to, take for some purpose, or use. Another similar definition of this is to refuse to hear, receive, or admit. If you're in a romantic relationship, it means to refuse as lover or spouse. Some synonyms for rejection in the verb form include decline, deny, disallow, and disapprove. Synonyms for the noun form of the word are castaway, castoff, leper, offscouring, outcast, and pariah. It doesn't matter what the form of the word is, rejection is not a pretty one to see or hear. Or even feel for that matter. I mean, the synonyms are just downright hostile! But here's a question many of you would ask: WHY are there rejections at all? Couldn't everyone get the part or job or home or school they wanted and be happy? Well, that's not how it works unfortunately. Even if you're in the arts, not everyone is going to get everything they want. And the big reason for that is numerous people are applying for the same show, project, film, apartment, mortgage, loan, school, job, benefits, and more. Yet, there are only a select number of individuals they can approve for whatever it is you want. That can hurt especially if you fit all of the requirements, qualities, skill sets, requests, talents, and more and you still don't get it. And that leads us to another question: "WHY didn't I get this? I was so right for this opportunity!" Well, this is where I'm going to be guessing on this one, but here's some of my observations as to why you may be rejected from something, even if you had your heart so set on it and you did perfectly in the application, interview, audition, callback, etc. You may not be the piece of the puzzle the creative team is looking for in their show or project. Your audition or self-tape was sloppily put together without much thought or consideration (even to the point of not following directions). There were just too many people who did excellent job and they had to narrow it down to who would be the absolute best for the role or job. They didn't want to take a chance on selecting a lesser-known individual for the project and wanted star or celebrity status in order to bring money and success. They were afraid to hire someone of a different race or sex for their company even though that person was exactly what they were looking for. They didn't believe you had enough qualifications for this position or opportunity, even though you were willing to learn. You didn't present yourself in the best way at the interview or final round of interviews and callbacks. Your creativity and talents weren't what the production team or staff needed for their project. You weren't selected because of your name being too difficult to read or pronounce (sadly, that's true.). You were too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny, your hair color is wrong, your eyes are too distracting, your body shape is all wrong, your feet are too big, you get the idea... It doesn't matter what the reason is. Rejections hurt. No matter how strong you think you are or how much you've hardened or armored your heart against the pain, somehow the hurt and negativity from receiving that message with the phrase "unfortunately, at this time..." will always end up making its way into your mind and heart. I thought I was prepared for handling rejections well up to this point. Throughout high school and college, I always took the rejections personally because of my sensitivity and how much I just wanted to be up there. Then after not auditioning for over four years and getting back into again, I had taught myself to really put on a thick armor in order to protect myself and handle the rejections with grace and dignity. That meant no crying, no feeling sorry for myself, no eating globs of ice cream, none of that. It's funny how things work out when you've worked your whole life to put on a suit of armor to help the rejections bounce off or not penetrate your whole being come back with a vengeance. Let me explain. You'd think that five years in the business you could be prepared for rejections. But this particular one caught me off guard in more ways than one. I not only have a career as an actor, but I have two part-time jobs to help supplement my income. And they just so happen to be at two local theatres in the area. I am a patron services associate at one theatre during the day, and I am an assistant house manager at the other in the evenings and weekends whenever a show is running. At one of these theatres, an audition call came for a show that would be performing at the end of the season. I thought that this would be a great opportunity for me to submit a self-tape to since I'm making connections with the production team at a place where I just so happen to work as a part-time employee. So, I asked one of my friends to help me with the sides for the self-tape, and within three takes, we got it done. Unfortunately, my lavalier microphone I wore peaked out when I was screaming so the sounds weren't there. I wasn't sure if it was a good idea to have a self-tape submission where the microphone peaked out, so another friend of mine who couldn't make it the first time I did the self-tape was available to help me out with another day of self-tapes. Once again, it took three takes, and I was very pleased with the result. Especially since I toned down my volume and the microphone didn't peak! So, I ended up sending in two self-tapes to the casting director, with an email confirmation from her. During this time, the show that I was working on as an employee was ending that weekend, and on the last day, there was a special toast with all the staff members, cast, and production team celebrating our first show back. Would you believe me if I told you that one of those staff members who just so happened to be there was the casting director? Yeah, the same one who was doing the show I submitted self-tapes for. I went over to her and she was very pleased that I sent in my submissions early enough before the deadline, and also mentioned that the production team would understand that my microphone would peak out when I was screaming. She couldn't tell me much more than that, and I was okay with that. I was just happy to meet her in person and know that I did the right thing. Several days went by after that, and I kept myself busy with my other part-time job and planning for the rest of the month and things like that. Then came Wednesday evening. I was just wrapping up watching NCIS: Hawaii when I noticed an email on my phone from the theatre I submitted for. My breath caught in my throat. This is it. I read the email, but the words that stood out to me the most: "You didn't make the cut for callbacks." I was gutted, to say the least. I told my mom what happened, and she gave me a hug. And then as she went into the bedroom, I started to cry. And I cried. And I cried. And I cried. This one hurt so bad. I seriously thought I was going to get a callback. I thought I had a shot. This sadness ended up going beyond a night's worth of sleep. It ended up lasting through the next few weeks. I never expected to grieve this opportunity for so long. And it didn't help that a show I recently did had my headshot and name out of the credits when it was streaming online. And it didn't help that I struggled to share the link of that show with others because of the privacy constraints. And it didn't help that I had to put on a brave face at my day job and not show the pain. And it didn't help that no matter how many times people told me that there's something else out there for me, I wanted this one. And it didn't help that I got two more rejections (three, if you count not being able to read Scriptures at church on Sundays) in a row. And it didn't help that all of that armor that I worked so hard to build to protect me came off and left me with all of the scars and sensitivity that I tried so hard to hide. Yet, that was exactly what happened as I was grieving. It wasn't a pretty week and a half for me. But it wasn't just this opportunity that I cried over. It was all of the other ones that didn't work out for me, whether through a rejection or a project not coming to fruition. Over the course of five years, I didn't cry as deeply as I did last month. I didn't feel the intensity of the rejections or the projects not working out as hard as I did last month. I didn't get angry or break down like I did last month. I just didn't feel at all. And it was all because of this stupid armor I made for myself to supposedly protect myself from the pain of it all and not show emotion or my faith in myself crumbling with each opportunity not working out. But here's the thing: We ALL wear that armor each day. And it's hard to take it off every time something bad happens because society tells us that tears make us weak, too emotional, or even vulnerability isn't allowed. We're being forced to be strong and power through the pain, humiliation, anger, and rejection. We're not given the chance or the time to fully grieve and process what happened to us because of how fast our society is and there's no time for dilly-dallying when you're working, playing, or just living. If we share what happened to us, we may be called out for being too emotional, too sensitive, too weak, or anything else that makes what we're feeling not okay with them or even with ourselves. And that's a damn shame. If there's one thing theatre or arts central schools don't teach artists of any sort, it's how to handle rejections in healthy ways. Let's face it, we're going to get them. TONS of them. Whether we like it or not. Obviously, the idea of grieving for only 1-2 days and then bouncing back up with a smile on your face and hustling again isn't the way to go. Take it from someone who knows. It's not good for your health, especially mental and emotional. Here's the first thing to do after you've received a rejection. Let. It. Out. I'm serious. Cry. Scream. Shout obscenities. Punch a pillow or a punching bag. Listen to loud music. Listen to sad music. Or do it all (if you can do it at the same time, that's okay, too.) It's proven that if you allow yourself to cry or feel any of these emotions, it will help with processing the rejection a little bit easier. You won't feel better right away, but it's a lot better than keeping it all in. If you keep all of your emotions inside of you, it will just burst out at the worst possible moment and you won't feel good at all. It's okay to feel the sadness, anger, jealousy, heartbreak, and confusion of these rejections. You shouldn't have to have a heart of stone or be so stiff that you can't feel anything at all. We should be taught that it's okay to feel the "bad" emotions in a way that helps us rather than keep it hidden or be strictly for visits with your therapists or meetings with your closest friends. We should also be taught that it's okay to be VULNERABLE. No one should have to take on the weight of their emotions alone. It's important to share what's going on in your life in a way that is not only safe and healthy, but also brutally honest. Not in a way that demeans others or makes you feel like your feelings don't matter. But rather in a way that shows yourself and those around you compassion and strength, even when you feel weak. If there's one thing I'm realizing right now is just how much I appreciate being vulnerable with my friends and family, and not being judged for it as much as possible. After that rejection, I shared what happened with my Bible study group, and I was shaking and crying as I told everyone that I really wanted this project to work out and how much I'm wondering if God truly loves me even though I'm doing my best each day to have faith and trust that things will work out even as I stand still. I broke down. Then my community laid their hands on me and some hugged me and prayed for me. Another thing that I did was share this particular rejection on social media. It said this: Yours truly received some bad news last week in the form of not making the cut for a show I submitted to.
Aka REJECTION. It especially hurts when you felt good about the self-tape and hoped for a better outcome than this. Rejections suck. There's no other way to put it. One thing I won't do is blast the theatre or casting team for not selecting me. That's disrespectful and will only make things worse. What I will do is allow myself time to grieve. Trying to make sense of the shock of the news and what comes next is a lot to take in. And it doesn't help when you're expected to jump right back up again after you receive news that you weren't expecting, especially if it's a rejection in the world of the arts. Allow yourself time to grieve over lost opportunities. It hurts, and you shouldn't feel like you have to be rushed into feeling better or bouncing back from this. Grieving of any kind is on YOUR timeline, not theirs. As for me, my way of grieving will be hugging Elsa, Dumbo, Pongo, or any of my furries, eating ice cream from Baskin Robbins & Coldstone, long walks, and crying.
I know it will be okay in the end.
But in the meantime, let me grieve and heal on my own time. It didn't give away too much details, such as the location of the theatre or the people doing the auditions. That is plain disrespectful, and I can guarantee you that you will never be considered for that company or organization after you badmouthed the people behind the table. But the post was just enough to allow me to be vulnerable, which especially meant being brutally honest. I'm hurting right now, and I need time to bounce back from this. And that leads me to the next thing to do after receiving rejections: Give yourself TIME. This may be a tough to do because of how society teaches us that we should only have a limited time to grieve over a loss or traumatic experience before we have to jump back in again as if we're good as new. But you and I both know that we can never be as good as new or right as rain again if we're only given several days or several weeks to have a good cry or even fully process what's happened to us. Especially if they're on a fast pace and have no intention of slowing down and taking the time to acknowledge that our mental health matters. Rejections does a nasty work on our mental health, no matter how strong or resilient we are (or think we are). There are going to be days where we are not mentally or emotionally okay with receiving a particular rejection, or even getting over 100 rejections. In a row. What does it look like giving yourself time to grieve, do you ask? Well, it could look like just about anything you want it to. Like eating a whole container of ice cream and watching Netflix films. Like hugging your favorite stuffed animals on a consistent basis. Like crying every single or every other day. Like going out for a long drive outside of the city or your state. Like listening to sad songs or music that relates to you right now. Like taking mental days off from your job in order to reflect, or simply do nothing at all. Like drinking the strong stuff (but not too much of it!). Like sleeping in for long periods of time. Like staying in your pajamas and doing nothing. Like going out for long walks. Like writing in a journal (or even a blog!). Like eating junk food without any care. Like dancing in the rain. Like screaming into your pillow. Like online shopping. Like taking care of YOU. It can truthfully look like all of these things and more. But the important thing is to allow yourself enough time to fully grieve and process the rejections you've received. And the best thing about this? It's on YOUR timeline, not THEIRS. You should take all of the minutes and hours in the day to make sure you're taking care of yourself, and allowing yourself to feel all of those emotions that come from the stress of being an artist. Even when people say "there's something better out there for you," don't let it force you to smile when you're not ready. Be open to the encouragement, but at the same time, see that you are allowed to grieve and the encouragement will always be there when you're ready to let it sink into your heart and mind again. Don't fall for society's trick insisting that you only have a certain number of days grieving, processing, and even healing within their timeframe, when it's YOU that should be the one to determine when you recover and get back into the hustling game. So, you let out all of the pain, stress, and frustration of your rejection. You've given yourself time to fully process and reflect. So, what do you do after doing both of these things? It's quite possibly the most important thing to do. And that's KEEP GOING. Here are two quotes to give you some form of inspiration, no matter where you are in your career as an artist. "If you're going through hell, keep going." ~Winston Churchill "If you are going through hell, keep going. Why would you stop in hell?" ~Steve Harvey Being in the arts is not for the faint of heart, and I often was asked a lot by my mom after every rejection if this is what I truly wanted to do. I honestly couldn't see myself doing anything else, and I kept at it. Five years later, I'm learning, growing, and thriving in this career. Especially in light of the recent rejections. Even as I continue to process the ones that most recently happened, as well as all of the previous opportunities that didn't work out, I somehow found myself desiring to keep moving forward. It's hard, I know. But you don't have to do this with a smile on your face like everything's okay. You just have to keep going. Don't stop. Never stop. What are some ways to keep going? Well, it may look like requesting feedback from the casting director or director on your audition or self-tape as a way to see how you can improve for the next time you audition for them. It may look like talking with your coaches, teachers, or mentors on what happened, how you're doing, and what you hope to do next. The smallest bit of guidance does wonders. It may look like going to see shows, art exhibits, concerts, or anything artistic to give you the fire and inspiration for your technique and career. It may look like listening to podcasts on your chosen profession and hearing from established artists on their experiences and how their stories might encourage you. But just the same, please keep going. If this is what you want to do and you cannot, absolutely CANNOT see yourself doing anything else, don't give up on your dreams. And here's something to remember as you pick yourself up: You can audition for that particular organization or company again should the opportunity arise. You are allowed to do that. But if you've ended auditioning for that same organization or company and you still get rejections, the best thing to do is move on to another one that better suits your acting needs. Another thing to remember: These rejections have nothing to do with you personally. And that's something we often forget because we spend so much of our careers putting ourselves out there without the armor and reaching for nothing less than excellence or high quality in our auditions and self-tapes. Maybe there's something about you that you did in the audition room or callbacks that the production team enjoyed seeing, and they may ask you back again for another project they're casting for. You might not be the missing piece of the puzzle right now, but you will be for the next time you get to audition for this particular company or organization. And who knows? Something truly better than what you initially thought would be perfect for you will come your way that may bring the most lessons, growth, creativity, and joy than you ever expected. You may have a hard time believing this in your grieving and processing your emotions right now, but it's true. It's going to be okay. From someone who just spent much of this post vulnerable and slowly building back up her confidence, I know that all too well. And you always have me in your corner rooting for you. You're not alone in this. No one is truly alone. (This week's post was a tough one to write as I'm still coming off of the rejections, which make up a substantial part of my career. But just the same, these are my experiences, observations, and reflections. Yours may be different from mine, and that's okay! You don't have to agree with anything I've said, or if you even had a similar experience to mine, that's okay, too. But I will not tolerate any hateful comments, offensive language, or anything that is derogative to myself or others. We need to be lifting each other up, not tearing one another down. If there is even a hint of negative speech in the comments, I will delete them and block you.)
Boy, that was quite the post I wrote this week. And it's been on my mind and heart for quite some time now. I wish I could say that it's going to get easier for me from here on out, but I'd be lying to you... and to myself. At this point, I'm taking a little bit of a break from hustling since I've been consistently working since April 2020, and you could say it's well-earned. Will I still have days when I need to have a good cry? Absolutely! But I also know that I am willing to vulnerable with the people who know me the best and believe in my talents and capabilities. It's the building back up of the confidence that's going to take the most time. At least it's getting close to the holiday season where I can find time to search for the small joys of this time of year. I hope you know that none of you artists out there are alone on this journey, no matter how old we are. You saw how much pain and frustration I wrote into this post, and it's evident for all of us looking for the next opportunity and wondering if we will ever work again after a particularly bad rejection. Your emotions ARE valid. So is allowing yourself to grieve, giving yourself time, and picking yourself up again on your own terms. I know you're hurting and scared, but I can tell you it's going to be okay. I'm rooting for you on whatever comes your way next. And I hope you know that I believe you WILL go far in your chosen profession, no matter what God, the fates, or the universe has in store for you. It's time to start believing in yourself again. I know that will be the biggest project for the rest of the year, or even the rest of my life. And to give you an extra bit of inspiration: "A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success." ~Bo Bennett