By Denise Simon | Backstage
Like most skills, dealing with rejection takes practice, and show business is the best place to train for it! There are many things that make this a tough industry, but the steep competition is one of the biggest. No one likes being passed over, left out, or told they are not “right.” Still, competition is a fact of life and the better we are at handling rejection, the easier it will be to stay competitive as we grow up. Here are some tips to help guide your young performer as he faces his fears and hears no after giving it his best.
1. Perspective. Auditions are big unknowns. You walk into the room with basic information and sometimes little context. All you can be is your unique self. Your job is to go for it! Do your best, don’t worry about what you don’t know, and then go home happy. One way to do that is to understand that some things are out of your control. This is a creative business that has little to do with concrete rules. Casting directors have a number of criteria for each part they are casting, such as age, height, weight, sex, ethnicity, or type. Sometimes, young actors even need to resemble on-set family members who were already cast! It is not personal. The truth is, no matter how talented and amazing a performer might be, the choice is often based on arbitrary traits. Let your child know that the important thing is to do his personal best and enjoy the process.
2. Statistics. There may be hundreds of actors answering the call for an audition, yet only one will be cast. The odds are not great. Every actor faces the same daunting odds, and the likelihood of rejection. That means you have to go on hundreds of auditions for every one you land. Each no gets you that much closer to the time when you hear yes. The important thing to remember is that success comes from those who keep going, don’t give up, and continue with confidence.
3. Resilience. Every time we try something, we risk failure. No matter what it is, the next step is the same. Try again! Resilience is a life lesson that actors learn to accept and embrace because it is so critical to their way of life. Praise your child’s efforts, hard work, and the courage they show every time they perform. If they get caught up in second-guessing themselves, acknowledge their concerns and let them know you can relate. Share some things that you learned from your own past “failures.” Teach them that reviewing the past can be helpful as long as it is framed in a positive way. There are lots of clichés about resilience that may be helpful at times of rejection, such as, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” and “What defines us is how quickly we get up after falling.” Keep in mind that failures are full of insights! Make it a game to hunt for one or two nuggets of wisdom that will give your child greater confidence in the future. Celebrate the day’s achievements with a fun treat like pizza, ice cream, or a movie!
4. Perseverance. Ask a group of people to define success, and you will get many answers, but every list will include hard work. Hard work is more effective than smarts, looks, money, and talent all put together, because you and only you can make it happen. If you think about only the end goal, it might seem impossible to reach from here. The trick is to start small and persevere. With one small step after another, we make progress. Over time, the results from your efforts will grow. By participating in show business, young performers learn that their dreams may not come easily. They see firsthand that they need to work long and hard in order to succeed. Because they are doing something they love, they are motivated to study the music, memorize their lines, book the auditions, and do it again until they find the right role for them.
The very fact that show business is tough means that kids who pursue their passion for performance will gain valuable life skills. They will take chances by auditioning and face the rejections that come. Given the random nature of this creative field and the odds against landing each role, kids learn to keep things in perspective and not take “failure” personally. With hard work, kids will grow and improve, which empowers them to tackle challenges in all areas of life. Learn to embrace rejection and you will ultimately grow stronger, more confident, and more successful as a result.
Master your craft, empower yourself, and enjoy the journey.