Putting yourself out there creatively can be challenging. As an actor, you face lots of rejection. You can’t possibly be right for every part, and if you are auditioning, you are undoubtedly getting rejected. Of course this makes the times when you “get the part” glorious, but those times can be few and far between in the early stages of your work.

Michael Shurtleff, in the prologue of his book “Audition” says: “An actor is forever trying to get a part; an actor is forever getting rejected, never knowing why, simply not wanted.”

Here’s a little personal story: One time I auditioned for a broadcast part. It involved a funeral scene and the character I was “reading” for was a grieving family member. I knew ahead of time about the part, so I dressed for the” funeral”, even wearing a fancy black hat with a veil, that I happened to have. The audition went very well. They seemed to like me, and the fact that I shed a tear for the occasion, didn’t hurt at all. I felt really optimistic, so when I got the phone call from my agent, I wasn’t surprised. Well, I was now about to be surprised, because I did NOT get the part, but MY HAT did.

Of course my hat was not auditioning, but they loved it and wanted to borrow it for the shoot. As my agent told me, I did not have to loan it and that it was entirely up to me. It took me a few hours to get over the shock of it. I wanted to respond: “HEY, I COME WITH THE HAT!” The audacity of this request was stunning, but I let them use the hat.

Now, this is not a typical “didn’t get the part” story, it had a little more sting to it, BUT it is a “walk in the park” compared to some rejection stories out there.

There are two things about this story that I hope will help you with your own disappointment or rejection:

One, I was not getting the opportunity to do the role in the shoot, but there was an opportunity there. I just had to stop and look for it. It was this: a chance to possibly build relationship, (with the producer, director, casting person and/or my agent) and demonstrate that I was willing to help them achieve success on their project. Even though it did not turn out to include me.

Secondly, and this is very important for actors to get, but certainly benefits anyone. Actors experience rejection… it’s part of the territory. You may be a wonderful actor, but if you do not learn to process disappointment and rejection properly, it piles up. Your heart and emotions, where rejection can settle, are the origin and source of your work as an actor. Just like any professional needs to keep and care for the important tools of their work (think of a doctor’s stethoscope or a carpenter’s hammer), the “tools” of a performing artist is his/her voice, face, and body parts, which are all controlled by the heart, the emotions, and the brain.

We get a warning about this in Proverbs 4:23, which states “Guard your heart with all diligence for out of it flows the issues of life.” An actor’s heart and emotions are very important to the work they are called upon to do. The “issues of life” are your “stock ‘n trade” and you must tend to the condition of your heart so that “life” can flow out of it. After all, when you are portraying a character, on stage or screen, you need a free flow of life, vitality and emotion. I would submit to you that dealing with issues in our hearts will keep it from getting “gunked up” and bogged down in past disappointments, hurts, and rejection.

I recently read an article in a ”Time Magazine Special Edition, The Science of Creativity,” *  by Courtney Misfund, taken from the research of Dr. Barry Kaufman that stated:

“Highly creative people have a tendency for post-traumatic growth, an ability to learn from distressing experiences.”

So, if you know your “distressing experiences” can be an opportunity to grow, and if you keep the “tools” of your trade, your emotions, your heart and your mind clear and unhindered, even your own “hat” story, no matter how traumatic, can turn out to be a win.


* I bought this magazine when I saw it at the checkout at Walgreens on 8/9/2018. It screamed out to me because it had a cover with a graphic very similar to a blog post of mine a few months ago. And then to my further amazement when I started reading the first article, on the first page, in the first paragraph it quoted the exact scripture I also quoted in another post from three weeks ago “In the beginning God created…” It’s crazy… I had never seen this magazine before in my life! There was no date as to when the publication came out. The article I reference in this post is entitled “Seven Secrets to Unleashing your Inner Genius”.


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