The Secret to Dealing with Rejection as an Actor

The Secret to Dealing with Rejection as an Actor

Actress Reese Witherspoon recently shared a story on social media about the many rejections she received over the course of her career. She wrote:

“I'm not gonna lie, sometimes all the rejection would hurt my feelings, I would take it personally. I definitely cried in the shower a lot in my 20’s. What I didn’t know then was : rejection teaches you perseverance and how to get tough. And you also learn ... not every path is right for you.” 

These words contain a vital lesson for anyone in any career field and on any path; but for actors, they ring especially true. Success in acting, only comes after many trials and failures. For young actors especially, it is easy to get discouraged by all the times you may be passed up for a role you really wanted. But there is a secret to overcoming these ups and downs, and Reese Witherspoon got to the heart of it in her insightful post. Here is what we should learn from what she shared.

Understanding Rejection

“Sometimes it’s important to remember that rejection or failure can really be a great help in our lives,” Witherspoon wrote. This couldn’t be truer. Learning is a process that can’t be achieved without failure. If you want to learn to be good at something, you have to start from a place of not being good at it. For actors, the many classes you and auditions you attend are all an important part of the process.

The best formula for dealing with rejection is to respond strategically and be practical. If you or your child go into their acting career thinking success will be instantaneous, you will be sorely disappointed. It’s helpful and valuable to acknowledge the areas of your skills that can be improved, and consciously work to be better. It’s also completely normal to feel upset from rejection. But as Witherspoon says, “Let yourself be sad, grieve what didn’t happen for a minute but move ON. Better things are waiting for you.”


Every “No” Leads to a “Yes”

Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” The key to dealing with rejection in a healthy way is to understand that each failure is getting you closer to your goal. No bit of rejection is ever in vain – it is all making you a better actor and leading to more opportunities to hone your craft. 

Another important secret is to recognize that everyone deals with rejection. Yes, even famous actors like Reese Witherspoon have been rejected. If you have found your child actor expressing sadness at rejection, remind them that even the most successful actors have been in the place they are at right now. Failure is a part of life and can’t be escaped. But if you know the best way to respond to it, you can keep improving, learning, and growing. 

Sometimes an actor may be rejected over an arbitrary detail or a legitimate issue. Either way, the best course of action is to process it, and continue pursuing your passion. And one day, the all the rejections will lead to a “yes.”