You rehearse for hours on end, sometimes for a year. You put money into voice lessons, dance classes, acting classes. The big audition comes and you give them everything you’ve got. The cast list goes up and—you didn’t get it.
It’s the most soul-crushing experience an actor can go through, especially in high school and college where you’re still studying and learning. You think it’s the end of the world and something is wrong with you because all those hours and there is nothing to show for it.
Here’s a truth—there is.
Think about what you’ve accomplished in the amount of time you spent preparing for your audition. Maybe you mastered that double-triple time step that was giving you trouble or maybe you finally belted “Defying Gravity” and it sounded Tony-worthy! Maybe you’ve grown more mindful in your scene work or grew more comfortable doing video auditions.
A “failed audition” is a ludicrous concept. There’s no such thing as failure. Sure, you didn’t get the part, but don’t let that ruin your existence or your career. Of course, there are ways to improve your craft. Even successful actors feel their audition that got them the job was their worst of the day.
Let yourself mope. Grab that carton of ice cream because honey, you deserve it. The fact you feel disappointed means you care and at the end of the day that means so much in a world where people look at the arts as a way to get rich or noticed career path. The fact you care so much that you threw yourself into your craft for God-knows how much time is the most fantastic notion in the world.
Then pick yourself up and look at what happened.
As painful as it is, go ask for critique. Find out why so-and-so got the role and you didn’t. Sometimes it’s favoritism and sometimes it’s genuinely because they brought something to the audition you didn’t. Find it and work on it. Getting past that initial fright of asking for help is the easiest step.
It’s something no actor wants to do because let’s face it, we go in already with our walls and egos ready to fight back and turn critique into insult. We allow the advice, no matter how direct, to wound our pride and we speak negatively to ourselves. Negativity, in this business, colludes with all the progress you have made up until that point.
Learn to speak kindly to yourself. Nurture and give yourself the gift of learning. Take a risk and email that voice coach you’ve always wanted to take lessons from. Allow yourself to struggle through a higher level dance class so you can knock those dance auditions out of the park. Sitting around and doing nothing but lamenting your one failed audition puts you in a state of complacency. Never be complacent. Never be satisfied with where you are at that moment of self-pity. You are an artisan who needs work and practice to ensure they can succeed in their craft. You need to practice no matter how overwhelming it can seem. Take it one step at a time and don’t give up even though it may seem to be the easiest thing to do. Failure is easy; triumph takes work.
Perfection is an unattainable concept. Even the actors we look up to in this business struggle with auditions and rehearsals because, after all, they are human. Don’t put yourself down because believe it or not, even the greats had their failures. Without missteps and failure, the big names in Broadway wouldn’t be where they are. They turned every negative situation they were faced with into a triumph and they went on their own road to success.
You are on the right path. The struggle will always be there and it’s up to you to turn this moment of “failure” into a moment of triumph and success. Take that missed opportunity and find a new one, no matter how long it will take you. Persevere and remember that your failure is not forever.
Amanda Thomas is a Connecticut native who is currently attending a university in New Jersey for Theatre Arts with a concentration in Musical Theatre. in CT. Favorite roles include Belle in “Beauty and the Beast” and Lily in “The Secret Garden”. Her dream is to be able to work in London’s West End and perform in Shakespeare’s Globe, a dream she realized after recently spending a semester in the UK and Europe. You can follow her on Twitter at @AmandaThomas_ as she navigates life, theatre, and the pursuit of petting every dog she sees.