Audition Rejection - Don't Take It Personally

by Catherine L. Tully

Angry little girl

There are many reasons why you might not get a role and not all of them have do with acting ability.

Early on in my career I auditioned for a dance role in a movie. There was actually a big Hollywood name associated with the film and I was really excited. I took extra care getting ready, arrived early and did all the things I was supposed to do. At the audition, I learned the steps and danced them flawlessly.

I got cut first round.

When I left the place, I replayed everything in my head wondering how on earth I had messed this up. I knew that I danced better than anyone in my group--and for that matter, better than most of the people there. I couldn't figure it out--why did they let me go so early? Feeling crushed, I can remember getting home and having a pretty good cry, followed by a sinking feeling that I just wasn't making it in the business. It shook my confidence to know that I did very well at the audition and it just didn't seem to be enough.

Exactly one week later, I ran into a friend of mine who was a fellow dancer and actor. We got to talking and I told him my tale of woe from the audition. He laughed out loud and told me there was no way I could have made it past the first cut--they wanted blonde women under 5'3. I am a 5'8 redhead.

There are many reasons that you might not get a part that you try out for--and not all of them have do with your acting ability. Take heart, and take a look at some of the following:

The Wrong Look
Just like my audition experience, roles often call for a general type of look and if you don't fit you are out--just like that. Sometimes you may know this information ahead of time, but sometimes you might not. There are also situations where a director may have certain ideas about a character, but doesn't verbalize them to anyone else. The type they are looking for is in their head, and you may or may not fit that idea.

Did you know that you were going to have to sing for that part? Ever been asked to do an impromptu waltz? Does your character need to yodel? Sometimes you can be caught off-guard by an audition, not knowing that you have to draw from more than one skill. Most times these are spelled out ahead of time, but not always. You can only prepare for an audition with the information that you have been given--the rest is improv.

Bad Timing
Even the best of directors can have an off day--or a bad phone call. At times you may wind up being the one to suffer. After all, they are only human, right? On the flip side, the same can happen to you right before an audition--either way its no reflection on your acting talent. Real life sometimes gets in the way.

The Experience Factor
Nobody likes to think of this, but it does happen. You are clearly the best choice for the role, but it goes to the person with more experience than you--the girl that starred in the director's last film. Or the guy that knows the casting director's mother. Generally speaking professionals in the field will choose the right people for the project, but occasionally someone slips by on things other than acting merit alone. Sometimes a director may feel more comfortable working with someone that they have worked with before, or a casting director just doesn't want to take a chance on an unknown.

The next time you are tempted to give up and throw in the towel after a frustrating audition, remember that some things are simply not in your control. There are times that you just can't land the role--no matter how well you read for it. Don't take every rejection as a reflection on your ability, because sometimes skill just has nothing to do with it!
Catherine L. Tully is a performing arts professional and educator with over 30 years of experience. She is currently serving as the Outside Europe Representative for the National Dance Teachers Association in the UK, and has performed, modeled, choreographed and managed productions both in the United States and in Japan. You can reach her at

Copyright © Catherine L. Tully. Used with permission of the author. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or distributed.
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Reader Comments

Thanks very helpful, made me feel a lot better :)

Posted by Shelly (2014-04-17) 6708

thank you so much for the advice I needed to read something like this to encouage me to not give up after this bad audition I had yesterday :) thank you

Posted by mason wolff (2011-04-14) 2998

great! nice tips. I'll be having my 1st audition this coming saturday; I'll keep all of these in mind. I hope I can make it.!

Posted by Charles Colin YbaƱez (2009-09-13) 2082

Hey. I'm a 5'8" redhead too. Wierd!

Posted by Chelsea (2009-09-01) 2039

Thanks a lot Tully for such encouraging words.I had loose hope after an audition I attended,thanks.Its now anew,good start.

Posted by Duncn Cheruiyot (2009-05-07) 1413

This stuff is very helpful.....Thank You! :)

Posted by Brianna Brown (2008-12-01) 633

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