One of the things I wish someone had told me before I got in to voice acting was just how much rejection I was going to have to cope with and more importantly how much that rejection would hurt. The same goes for any facet of life really, rejection can always be difficult to navigate but when it’s attached to something creative it seems to gnaw at you that little bit more.
I can’t speak for everyone but whenever I audition for a project or put myself forward for something there is always a little bit of “me” in it. It’s always intensely personal, usually because I’ve had to draw on something from within to create a character or give a certain performance. Even for something non-character based such as a commercial, it always feels personal, it’s your take on the script, your interpretation.
Here’s the thing though, if you want to last more than 5 minutes in the acting industry you need to get a grip on rejection and how you handle it, a good booking rate would be 10%-15% which means you’re going to lose 85 – 90% of jobs you go for. It took me a while but I have found a way to deal with the rejection, don’t get me wrong, it still sucks but it’s simply become part of my process. So, here’s my tips and philosophies that might hopefully help you when the chips are down:
The rejection isn’t personal
This is possibly the most important aspect of dealing with the rejection, understanding that it’s not personal. When we don’t book a job the usual go to thought is that we’re not “good enough” or that “they didn’t like me” but the problem is that that’s a flawed thought process to start with. Part of the problem with anything creative is that ultimately it’s always subjective, meaning you could deliver what you think is an outstanding performance and 50% may love it and 50% may hate it (we’ve all got films we love that others think are atrocious J ). If you prepared properly and delivered your best you can be happy.
I like to use the analogy of Oscars Dresses to try and explain this one; imagine there are 10 dresses on a rack and you must pick one to wear to the Oscars. All 10 dresses are exquisitely made and fantastic but there’ll just be one that you pick for reasons you probably can’t determine. Now, the fact that one dress got picked doesn’t mean the other 9 dresses aren’t equally suited to a night at the Oscars, it just means a different dress got picked. The story there is that not getting selected doesn’t necessarily reflect anything about your performance!
Give up control
Let me state this clearly, you have no control over whether you book or not. The only thing you can control is the performance you give and even that is subject to the information and direction given to you by the client. Stop thinking that booking or not booking a job is even remotely within your control, there are far too many variables at play for this to be the case and it’s arrogant to assume otherwise. What is in your control is giving the best performance you can give; the rest is up to who knows who. By giving up attempts to control the outcome of the audition you are much freer to give a performance not bound by a desire to book the job, which ironically is always a better performance and therefore more likely, but not guaranteed, to book!
By understanding that you have little control over the outcome you become less tied to it and therefore when you don’t succeed you don’t fall in to the “what else could I have done” trap. That doesn’t mean you can’t think about your performance and what you might improve next time but that’s something you should be doing regardless of whether you book the job or not.
Someone else’s squee!
This one is an interesting one and is more about thinking outwardly rather than inward. When you don’t book a job, what can help is to remember the times you did book and the “squee” of excitement it generated in you. Understanding that by you not booking a job someone else out there is having a “squee” moment can be comforting; you can tune in to that feeling and somewhat have that “squee” vicariously. When you don’t book, especially if it’s a gig you really desired, it’s oh so easy to forget all the times you do book, you suddenly feel like your entire career is measured against this one gig you didn’t get. By focusing outwardly on someone else’s squee it can give you perspective and help to remind you that you too have had those squee moments yourself.
There’s always more opportunities
This one, this one helps you move forward.
I had a period recently where I had 6 irons in 6 delightful fires, I was very grateful for those opportunities and blown away by the sort of company’s I was in discussion with. Do you know what happened? Not even one of those opportunities turned in to bookings. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, it was a pretty big punch to the gut. Now, when things like that happen (and they will, see the booking rate in the first section!) it’s imperative to remember that there are ALWAYS more opportunities. It’s incredibly hard to do at the time and it can feel like your career is in the toilet but I promise there are always more opportunities. Sure enough a week later I got 4 auditions through for AAA games and a new animation series but when you’ve taken a hit it’s very hard to see what’s coming in the next weeks and months. You must keep moving forward, you must fire and forget on your auditions and focus only on keeping going, momentum is your friend!
Take the time you need
Finally, take the time you need to get over the rejection. Even with coping mechanisms and thought processes in place losing jobs is always tough and will get you down at some point. What’s important is that you take the time to feel down, leave the booth alone for a day, take a day to yourself, go out for lunch, watch some Netflix and try again tomorrow. When you feel down sometimes the worst thing you can do is keep going, it’ll seep in to your auditions and start a vicious cycle. So, sometimes, just walk away and come back again tomorrow.