Week of Worst Days: How I Dealt With Rejection

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This story is part of a Week of Worst Days, a celebration of the amazing, wonderful readers who have been brave enough to share their struggles so that other girls could learn from them.

Lights! Camera! Rejection! By Taylor, age 10, Arizona

Being an actress may seem glamorous, but there’s a dark side you don’t see on screen: rejection—and lots of it.

I decided I wanted to be an actress after taking an acting class for fun. That class was all it took—I was hooked! My parents helped me find an agent, and before long, I was booked for my first audition. Hollywood, I thought, here I come!

Yes, Yes, Yes, and…No

I realized right away that it wasn’t going to be easy. There’s a whole process you have to go through to get even the smallest role. Let’s say you’re up for a part in a TV show. Your first audition is always with a casting director. If he or she likes you, you’re called back to audition for the director. If the director likes you, the producers check you out. If the producers like you, the network has to approve you. So you can go through a whole string of “yes’s,” only to end up with one little “no” from the network—and the “no” wins!

And the Role Goes To…

A few months ago, I tried out for a small part on Nickelodeon’s Drake and Josh. The role needed to be cast quickly, so the casting director and the director were both at the first audition. After I read through the scene, they asked me to meet with the producer, which meant they liked me! “You’re perfect for the part!” the producer said enthusiastically. Then he wrote “yes” in large letters on my picture and underlined it three times!

They said they wouldn’t make a decision until that evening, but I was sure the part was mine. I began to picture myself on the Drake and Josh set, and even wondered what the cast would be like. But I was a little worried, too, because I knew my friend Annasophia had also auditioned for the role. My mom and I were meeting Annasophia and her mom for dinner and I was afraid that Annasophia would be disappointed if she found out I’d gotten the part.

But when Annasophia ran up to me in the restaurant that night, her eyes were shining. The first thing she said was, “Hey, guess what? I got the part!”

My heart sank to my feet. What happened? I’d been so sure that role was mine! I was really happy for Annasophia, but I was jealous, too. Annasophia already had a lead in a movie and a part in the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Why couldn’t I have those opportunities, too? All I wanted was a chance to do what I loved so much!

Take Two…

As it turned out, I lost out on the Drake and Josh role because I looked a lot like another character on the show. And that wasn’t the only time I was rejected because of my looks. I also auditioned for a movie based on the American Girl “Samantha” books. I visited the American Girl website before the audition and saw that I looked a lot like the pictures of Samantha. Yes! I thought. This time I’d be judged on my acting instead of my looks.

I tried to do my best at the audition, and the next day, my manager called to say that the casting director loved me. I still didn’t get the part, though! The casting director said there were “concerns” about my height! Since Samantha jumps into her uncle’s arms in the movie, she needed to be kind of short. I’m four-foot-eight, so I was knocked right out of the running. I’d practiced those lines for hours, but no amount of practicing could have made me shorter!

The Show Must Go On

Sometimes it seems like people reject you for the stupidest reasons in this business. They’ll reject you because you’re too short or too tall, because you look too young for your age or don’t look young enough, or because your hair is the wrong color. They’ll even reject you because you remind them of someone they don’t like!

It makes me mad sometimes. I understand that the producers and directors want just the right person for a role, so height and looks are important. But it doesn’t seem fair that talented people are often left out because of looks. I know I could be the best, most hard-working actress, but if there isn’t apart for a four-foot, eight-inch 10-year-old girl with brown hair and bangs, being the best won’t mean anything.

And I’ll be honest: Being rejected hurts, no matter what the reason is. I’ve been told that you have to have “thick skin” in this business, and I’m learning that it’s so true. You have to learn to forget about an audition when it’s over and never let the rejection get you down. You have to do your best and hang onto your self-confidence even when you don’t get a call back. You just can’t let other people’s opinions change how you think of yourself.  

I know I’ll never let the rejection take away my dream of becoming an actress. I love bringing a script to life and making a character my own. Maybe I can’t change my height, or my age, or the way I look, but I can improve my acting and give every audition my all. And someday, I think that will make all the difference!