One minute you’re basking in the joy of winning the World Cup. The next you’re finding it hard to scrape up the Ashes. All of us can see a good run turn into a bad one. And for actors, there is often no rhyme or reason to it, which makes it even more infuriating.
Maybe it’s run of a few meetings or – more likely these days – self-tapings, which lead to nothing. Just silence. Even in today’s climate, when theatres have committed to giving actors yes or no answers in good time, silence still sees to be the go-to option. It sows doubts in an actor’s mind. What did I do wrong? Why didn’t they want me? Three jobs and I can’t get even one of them in the bag?
And no, thank you, I don’t want feedback. I just wanted the job. I’m not alone. Several colleagues recently told me they’ve been waiting on a number of responses only to receive that phone call that every agent must dread and every actor does dread: “That Netflix series, the Royal Shakespeare Company season, and the new Mike Bartlett TV show? They’re all no, I’m afraid.”
Perhaps it would have been better to ditch the meetings in the first place. At least that way the work drought can be blamed on something else. Not much happening at moment. Agent away on holiday. Headshots out of date.
Yet rejection is a key part of our job. We spend more time looking for work than we do working. Rejection is inevitable, and just as we give time to rehearsals, and the joys of work, so we should find time for disappointment. Allow time for a moan. Have a drink, though limit it to just the one G&T for each job that you missed.
Remember you didn’t do anything wrong. It just wasn’t your turn
Remember you didn’t do anything wrong. It just wasn’t your turn. The choice was made for a thousand reasons you had no control over. A friend of mine, chief executive of a huge retailer, says: “Only focus on the things you can actually affect.” Once that ‘no’ has come through, there is nothing you can do, so don’t hang onto it.
It is harder when you’re never informed of the rejection and you learn that you failed to get the job when the programme comes on and someone else is playing the part you read for. You are just one of five actors watching who know you could have played it better.
And you could have done, but you didn’t get the chance. So don’t linger on it. Step back up and, going back to that sports metaphor, get ready to face the next ball. Just look at Ben Stokes’ Ashes heroics on Sunday to see how fortunes can turn around.