“You really shouldn’t have a headshot like this--it makes you look skinnier than you actually are and we don’t want to be disappointed when you come in the room.”
“People who are...curvy...like you shouldn’t wear form fitting dresses”
“Sweetie, everyone wants to work in TV & Film in addition to Theatre. Join the line.”
These are all verbatim quotes that casting directors in the industry have said directly to my face, in general auditions, one-on-one meetings, and workshops. Ouch.
The constant rejection. Not feeling respected for who you are. Being treated like just another number. Not feeling like you’re “good enough.” Even feeling worthless in the face of rejection. These are all terrible, yet often realistic, hurdles that most actors, singers, and dancers face while trying to make their way through this crazy industry. In an effort to be “commercial,” “hireable,” and “castable,” we actors tend to fall into the trap of looking to people in positions of power (casting directors, agents, etc.) for approval & affirmation. That leaves us feeling even ickier! People can feel that energy and sense our need for approval--which just makes them back off more.
We have to be able to give ourselves our own self love and approval, so that we can leave it all in the 16 bar cut and feel accomplished. But that’s easier said than done. So, how do we navigate the showBUSINESS waters to find our own self approval, self love, and feel accomplished as artists?
I have a few life tools I use- feel free to test out the ones that resonate with you!
1. Reverse your negative self talk
We are often so used to talking to ourselves negatively that we don’t even realize when we’re doing it! I challenge you to notice when you have negative self talk and CHOOSE to flip the script. Instead of “I’m so not good enough, I’ll never make it,” say “even though I am having a rough day, I’m doing my best. I deserve to take care of myself and have success.” This way we can talk to ourselves positively without putting too much pressure to be “perfect.”
2. Practice self love:
If any of you know me or follow me on Instagram, you know that self-love is my JAM. We’re in an industry that can cut us down for things that feel both personal and unfair- things like weight, height, skin color, or even how we style our hair! It can be really easy to hate ourselves for the things that we aren’t, instead of loving ourselves for the things that we are.
One way to I practice self love is by looking at myself in the mirror and focusing on one part of myself that I love. It can feel a little cheesy to tell yourself why you’re amazing (which you are), but no one is watching! So like, YOU DO YOU! For instance, things I commonly say to myself are: “My smile lights up a room. I am enough. My voice is worthy of being heard. I deserve my own self love and approval. My body does so much for me every day.” Bringing self love into your daily life helps you feel more fulfilled & grounded. And while you’re not doing this for them, I promise that people in the audition rooms notice that energy!
3. Have a life other than being a Musical Theatre Robot®:
It can be so easy to get sucked into the world of lining up for auditions at 5 am almost every day, listening exclusively to cast albums on spotify, and refusing to socialize with people not in theatre world. That is great that you’re so driven, focused, and passionate about your career! You’re gonna rock it!
That being said, take time to cultivate other interests and joys in your life. For instance, I love working out (weightlifting, yoga, and outdoor activities) and it is a big, happy focus of my life. I am also a certified crystal healer and have my own practice. Plus I have a rescue doggie (who you def want to follow @jasperthesilkyterrier) who reminds me it is good to savor each moment and stay joyful. This fills my cup!
Find something outside of the theatre world that fills you and brings you joy! That way, when you do walk into the audition room next time, the aura of “I need to book this or else” won’t ooze off of you. Plus, you will have dynamic stories to tell (other than who you saw at the EPA this week) when the people behind the table say, “so tell us about yourself.”
I practice a grounding meditation before I go into auditions. I like to envision a root going down from the soles of my feet into the earth, and then a glowing orb of light (like Glinda the Good Witch- Heyo #WizardofOz) around my body to protect my energy and fill me with positivity! I also meditate with crystals that help my confidence (such as citrine or aragonite). Meditation helps me to do my best, allows me to let go of the little things, guides me in practicing non-attachment, and supports my growth in self love!
Now that you have all these tools to create space for more self love and self approval, go forth and use them! Funky audition moments are still gonna take place occasionally and rejection will still happen. However, focusing on these four things will help all that sting less (and occur less), because you LOVE yourself and approve of your artistic choices. That authenticity will always shine through.
Alden is an NYC based Actor and Singer and is an “old soul living in a young lady’s body”! Check out more of Alden at AldenGagnon.com and on social media @AldenGagnon