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Dear West End Producer: ‘Is it normal to feel like a failure after nothing but rejections?’

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You may feel like a failure but, believe me, you are not. You’re possibly feeling down because of a lack of auditions or not having an agent. But don’t worry. You are at the beginning of your career, and that can be the hardest time.

You have come into a hugely competitive business, with hundreds applying for every role. But please don’t give up. This is the time to establish yourself and make as many contacts as you can. I know I say it frequently, but one of the best things you can do is to create your own work. Collaborate with friends, write, even put something on YouTube. There are many ways of putting your work out there.

Every knock-back is a learning experience that can teach you something useful for your next audition. Don’t give up. You may feel as though you’re banging your head against a particularly hard drama wall, but eventually you’ll get a job. Every audition you go to makes you more prepared for the next, dear.

Failing is actually part of your journey, and is more prevalent in an acting career than any other. You will get lots of rejections – from auditions, agents and casting directors – but that is to be expected. Everyone in the business goes through it.

I know it sounds obvious, but try to be positive. It’s very easy to think: “I’m terrible. Everyone else is better than me – they’re going to give the part to the other person.” But get rid of those negative thoughts and instead think: “I’m good. I should be here. The job is mine.”

Try to visualise yourself getting the role – it can be very effective. Literally imagining you’ve already got the job can shift your negative thoughts and make you feel more motivated.

Avoid comparing yourself to others. Social media can make it very easy to feel like everyone else is leading a much better life than you. But that is total twaddle. Instagram life is not real life: people only upload the life they wish they were living. So ignore it. Instead of looking at other people’s online life concentrate on your own real one.

A colleague of mine has a vision board, which he says really helps. Find images of things that you want to achieve in your life, and pin them on to a cork board. Look at it daily and inspire yourself.

There can also be a tendency as an actor to float through your career – taking one job, then on to the next, then on to the next, without actually thinking about what kind of work you want to do. So, know your goals. Take time to decide what you actually want and write it down. It can be easy to get distracted and forget why you started. That’s when you should remind yourself of your goals – listening to motivational speeches or self-help videos can be inspiring.

So don’t worry about feeling like a failure, because you are not, dear. As Jim Carrey once said: “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

Send questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer

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