Have you ever had your acting hopes and expectations crumble due to disappointment? Maybe you didn’t land a desired role, or after being cast, you were informed you were being replaced? Indeed, an actor’s journey is naturally full of disappointments, so it’s best to have a plan on how to handle letdowns so you’re ready when they threaten to zap your enthusiasm, or worse, make you want to quit. In this video, casting director Erica Arvold and acting coach Richard Warner give practical advice on how to manage the raw emotions that are associated with disappointments as a performer.

Arvold admits she’s had plenty of experience with relaying bad news to actors. She says, “It is, honestly I want to say, the hardest part of my job. I am so fraught with anxiety to tell an actor that they’ve been replaced, and I try so hard to be supportive because they wouldn’t have gotten the part in the first place if they weren’t a lovely, talented individual.”  Selected actors don’t always end up being a good fit for a role after all; sometimes it has to do with issues with their performance, however, Arvold insists it rarely indicates an actor is lacking in skill.

She recounts a painful instance when she had to tell a budding actress that she was being replaced. In response, the young actress’ confidence suffered, and she got stuck in a negative state of mind for a period of time. But fortunately, she did some work on herself and returned to her auditions with a renewed sense of purpose and a vibrancy. “I don’t know what happened, but she somehow got on the horse again, and she gave the best auditions that she’s ever given, and she’s booking, booking, booking–and quite successful now,” Arvold recounts.

Arvold actually considers actor disappointments not only as inevitable but as a right of passage. Warner agrees and sums it up, “You have to find a mentality where [a disappointment] serves as an epiphany rather than something that’s going to be a psyche crusher.” Dealing with disappointments in a positive way is one of the most important things an actor can learn. So, Warner offers some tips on how to manage the letdowns that come your way.

Remember, it’s business–not personal

Being rejected for a role is not only common; it’s inevitable. But the business decision to go with another actor is not a personal attack on an actor’s self-worth.

Exit gracefully

Think of when an athlete loses a game and is expected to shake the victorious opponent’s hand for the sake of good sportsmanship. Just as athletes are expected to hold strong after a defeat, actors are similarly expected to keep their composure when they experience a setback. Maintain a professional attitude in the presence of casting professionals, producers, assistants, and camera operators; after all, many of them have close relationships, and actors can become known for either their dignity or outbursts. “If you can exit in a professional way, they’re going to remember that,” Warner says. While your emotional struggle is valid and normal, find a private place afterward where you can release, cry, or vent about the experience.

Self-Reflect

After releasing your feelings and talking about them, then it’s time to consider what you might do differently in the future. Warner insists each disappointment serves as an opportunity to improve. But it’s important to focus on what you can control, like your attitude, commitment, or practical ways to finetune your craft. This way, with each disappointment, you’ll progress a little at a time; over time, it all adds up.

But whatever you do, Warner encourages actors to keep moving forward; don’t allow disappointments to stop you. “Take heart,” Warner concludes. “There are all sorts of wonderful stories about where we can turn apparently career-ending tragedies into something that really actually gives us deeper work and more connection to who we are as a performer.”

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