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Monday, November 17, 2008

Handling Rejection

I just read the most incredible transcript of an interview with Holland Taylor. I wanted to pass along an excerpt which deals with handling rejection. What’s interesting is that the best advice for handling rejection is to address why you would call it “rejection” in the first place.

“First of all, I have had any number of instances where I've met people in later years -- 10 years later after an audition or something when they said, ‘That was the most brilliant audition I ever saw for such-and such,’ and I hadn't gotten the job. And I had been crushed by not getting it, and I had suffered over it and often remembered it and my face would get hot with embarrassment.

And then I would find out that I had actually done superbly, even, but that there were many other reasons why people get or don't get jobs -- I'm sure you know this too. And after a while, I really understood this and I understood that it was very rarely me getting the job, and I say to young actors, ‘Don't go into an audition saying, 'I've got to get that job, I'm going to get that job,' because it isn't up to you.’ ”

When auditioning for a role, I have always said that there are only two things you can control in the room:

• Being Prepared
• Playing Full Out

Getting cast is not in your control. There are too many other factors in casting that you are completely unaware of, so how can you begin to control them? 

“And if you don't get it, then of course you feel that you have failed, that you have crapped out, that you did badly. And the fact is that the only thing -- it's like running a race. I say to students, "Can you win a race?" I'll say to a young, athletic man, and he'll say, "Yes, I can." And I said, "Well, what if someone's faster than you?" And he said, "Well, then I'll just have to run faster?"

I said, "But what if someone runs faster than you?" And then I said, "Then you won't win that race, right?" And he said, "I guess not." And I said, "So you aren't in charge of winning. You're in charge of running.’ ”

When I coach actors on setting goals, I teach them how to look for results that are manageable and empowering. Instead of "My goal is to be cast" (which you cannot control) I encourage actors to strive to be put in the “YES pile." YES means that you have what it takes to compete, and they'll keep giving you chances until something connects perfectly. Using Holland's analogy of the runner, you wouldn't strive to say, "I won," but, "I am someone that they'll want in a future race."  

As someone who has cast a fair number of shows, I can tell you that getting into my YES pile is ultimately more important than getting cast. If I like your work and your spirit in the audition room, I will do whatever I can to get you cast in my projects because you are going to make me look good- bringing in good actors impresses the producers and means job security for the casting director. So I would bring you in every time a role is right for you until something clicks. 

So, strive to be in that YES pile - go into the audition prepared, listen to what is being asked of you and act accordingly, be respectful and HAVE FUN! You'll find that if you show up to auditions using these principles you will be a much happier actor and you'll quiet that little negative voice inside you!

1 COMMENTS - Click to READ:


This was a great and never-ending topic to deal with. I recently participated in the casting of a film, and getting to sit on the other side of the table was quite an eye-opener. I was at the callbacks for a challenging student film which called for subtle acting on the part of a young man and woman. The director had called back several extremely talented actors, each of whom brought their own special interpretation to the roles. They were all physically right. But when it came down to the final casting of the film, the writer had his favorites and there was a girl who communicated something deeper than "just acting" that blew us all away. The director felt he had to cast her due to that magic "something." So . . . he had to match the guy to her. What happened next was the real fly in the ointment. It turned out she could not commit to the shoot and so the director decided to go with his "second choice," an equally talented girl who had given a great audition and was willing to give herself heart and soul to the project. Interesting, huh? You never know. All of the people who were at that callback were terrific and all of them will be remembered by the director and by me. I would love to work with any of them.

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