How to deal with not getting a job

Dealing with not getting a job you wanted constitutes as much professional skill as working as an actor!

To begin with, let's be totally candid: you are not going to get every audition or casting that you apply for. You are also not going to land every audition or casting that you are seen for. It's just a fact. However unique / brilliant an actor / gifted and talented you may be, there are jobs with your name on them and there are all the others.

When you're young or new to the industry, each job you miss feels exactly like a personal rejection. I know that. Every actor knows that, too. You do a great audition - and, indeed, it may be terrific, with you firing on all positive cylinders - yet the job doesn't come your way. Your first reaction, swiftly followed by feeling hurt, baffled and peeved, is 'Why not?' or 'What did I do wrong?' It's almost an actor's remit to think that we have been, somehow, not good enough. (But let's also be realistic: you know whether you've done a great audition and you know when you've been less than impressive. Learn cheerfully from the latter. We've all ended up with egg on our faces. That's another actor's lot.)

The good news is that you probably were good enough. You probably did do a terrific casting / audition and you were justified in thinking that you pulled out all the stops and wowed the director, or whoever you were seeing. It's a very fickle world, this industry. The chances are that the director, for example, had a particular look in mind / actually wanted someone petit(e) and blond(e) whereas you're tall and dark / cast a friend, or someone they've previously worked with, in the role / changed their mind after the casting and went for a different type. There are many reasons why jobs don't come your way and, most often, for reasons completely outside your control.

Do not despair. And do not dwell on or brood about jobs you've missed. I remember asking my agent, years ago, after I knew I'd done a really cracking audition for a well-known director of the time (for a No 1 tour of a West End hit), if she could enquire why I hadn't got the job. The answer came back (and this will probably feature on my headstone) as this: 'As a type, she falls between two stools....' I. Fell. Between. Two. Stools. What on earth was that supposed to mean and what on earth could I do about it? Which 'stool' should I veer towards...? What were these two specific 'stools'? It was a complete mystery to me. That director is dead now so maybe my two matching items of intangible furniture don't matter anymore. Maybe they never did... Perhaps it was just his 'thing'.

So there, my friends, is a classic example of being utterly powerless in the light of a casting decision that didn't go my way. It is futile and a gigantic waste of your energies to dwell on what you will perceive as rejections. Rejection: that's an almighty negative word, isn't it? Discard it. It means nothing, other than that particular job didn't have your name on it. BUT ANOTHER ONE WILL. And, for the jobs you do land, twenty other actors will be thinking 'What did I do wrong? It seemed to go so well...' and will be as baffled as you have felt for all those castings you didn't get.

We all know that talent is just one aspect of this business that is necessary. Who you know is another. Whether you come across as someone as someone affable, 'directable' and easy to work with is another consideration. Those aspects are things that we can, sometimes, do something about, to improve our chances. However, the majority of the time, we are subject to the whims and impulses of others.

I recall being seen for a commercial casting, fitting the bill completely regarding the physical characteristics that were required in the breakdown. The resulting, broadcast commercial featured an actress so diametrically opposed to the specified casting brief that I stared in disbelief, with a mouth opening and shutting like a bewildered goldfish. 'How...?' 'Why...?' 'What....?' were words that eventually formed on my lips. And that was a great lesson to be learned, for me, as a young actor wanting to forge my way in this wonderful, baffling, infuriating industry. Some things are just not within our control. Directors change their minds; producers decide they want something else; some other actor came into the casting and gave them something they didn't realise they needed. And, you know what? Sometimes, that actor will be you, whether you're aware of it or not.

Maybe you have the right-shaped nose. Maybe you don't have the right-shaped nose. Maybe you're too tall. Maybe you're not tall enough. Maybe the 'auditioner' doesn't actually know what they want until it's right there in front of them. You have exactly the same chances as all other actors up for that job. Sometimes you'll be cast and sometimes you won't. The only way to deal with the absolute vagaries of this business is to be philosophical and accepting. 'That one didn't have my name on it but another one will.' A job you don't even know about yet could well be the one for you. We are all unique and we all bring different qualities to castings. Voices, physicality, eyes, mannerisms, a 'look'.... But we cannot control or predict other peoples' whims.

Don't take 'rejection' personally because it simply is not personal. You are a commodity and nobody intends to hurt you by giving the job to someone else, even if this happens countless times. We've all experienced the self-doubt or anger or sense of unfairness that you feel. Shake yourself down, move on and direct your energies towards seeking out the next job. It's just possible that the director who gave that job to another actor may need someone just like you in the future. It does happen.

Good luck and keep smiling.