How to Deal When You Don't Get the Role

Brittany Strelluf

Everyone has been there. 

The show was announced, maybe it was a play you didn’t know or one you loved and dreamed of doing for years, either way, there is THAT role. That role you are perfect for. You are in love with that role. You must play that role. 

You get the script and pour over it. You practice your monologue until it is perfect. You know- the way you know the sky is blue and the Earth is round- that you will be perfect for this role. You were born to play this role.  This is your role. 

Auditions come and you nail your monologue.  Then come callbacks, you are perfect with the cold readings. 

Then comes the moment of truth; the cast list is posted.

Your heart races as you scan the list, then scan it again, and realize with a sinking feeling, that you didn’t get the part.  After all that hopeful planning, you didn’t get the part you were born to play. 

I have been asked before on how it feels to not get a role and how to handle those complicated feelings of rejection and disappointment.

So, in drawing from my own experience and observations  I would like to now share some tips on how to deal when you didn’t get the part you wanted. 

Don’t lash out in anger or make rash decisions when you are emotional. 

Will it do you any good to send an angry email? Is it the best decision to quit the role you got in the chorus when you wanted the lead? I have heard quite a few stories from directors, who have had some very harsh words thrown their way out of hurt and anger.  That doesn’t help the situation and just makes life harder for you and everyone involved in the show.  Take some time, cool down, and get some perspective.  In the end, it will probably be best to keep your emotions in check. 

Trust the vision of the director

This can be very difficult to do. However, the director is the director for a reason. They have probably read the show and thought about it a great deal.  They cast the actors they did because it fit the vision that they have spent a great deal of time creating. You probably don’t know all the reasons why the director chose another actor over you; it could have been a variety of reasons. It could’ve been a gut decision or something on their resume that led to that decision. Be respectful and open-minded.  If it turns out that they did make a mistake in the casting, chances are they will feel the effects even worse than you do. 

Find a way to channel your Feelings in a healthy, constructive way

Your schedule has just opened up, so instead of moping, use this time as an opportunity to explore something different. New skills and experiences will lead to becoming a better actor. Use this as a learning opportunity. Take a class, reconnect with old friends, network about new opportunities. Go and see other shows, or learn a different skill. Anything is better than wallowing in self-pity. 

Find a new way to make your impact on the show

If you still want to be involved in the show, then this is a great time to try your hand at something new. Always wanted to run the soundboard? Ask for some training. Curious about painting scenery? Pick up a paintbrush. Just because you're not onstage doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t leave a little bit of yourself in this production.

Everyone has been disappointed. Everyone has gotten a rejection or been fired. It’s important to not let your failures be all that define you, rejection is a part of life.  Actors feel things deeply, which is a strength and a weakness.  The important thing is, to grow from it. 

“Don’t let today’s disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dreams.” ~Unknown

Photo: T. Charles Erickson