What to do if you don’t know (yet) if you are a Harvey Keitel or Lucille Ball

By April 13, 2020 No Comments

Did you know, Harvey Keitel auditioned for the Actors Studio 8 years in a row before being accepted? He then did not only get accepted but made it on the board as well. Allegedly, Fred Astaire was told, “You can’t sing, can’t act, can dance a little.” Decca Records rejected the Beatles, and Lucille Ball was considered too shy and was told to try another profession. The famous soprano Beverly Sills was refused over and over by the general manager Rudolf Bing at the Metropolitan Opera. And the list goes on.

I’m sure you’re letting out a little sigh of relief; a sigh of, there is hope! If they can do it, I can do it. Not giving up, that is.

Amy Jo Berman wrote an article in Backstage, (November 29, 2012 issue),

’26 Reasons Why You didn’t Get the Part’ even while you did a fantastic audition and everybody in the room loved you.

In other words, don’t doubt yourself when you do not get the gig you auditioned for, because most reasons have nothing to do with you.

As a casting director, she knows why: you are too long or too short, too thin, too fat or whatever the 26 reasons, why the directors, who thought you were terrific, didn’t pick you for the part.

The problem is, you will never find out if you didn’t get the gig because you might have reminded the producer of his sister, and he hates his sister or because you were too funny or not funny enough. You’ll walk out of the audition, cell phone in your hand, waiting for that call-back that never will come and you don’t know why and the negative-talk begins: ‘I thought I did great but, was/am I not-good-enough, maybe?’

So, how do you stop all that chatter when your phone doesn’t ring? How do you not feel personal hurt, disappointed, rejected and insecure by the fact that your phone is not ringing but someone else his/hers is? Because, even while it is not in your power and not within your control, you’re still rejected.

Acting teacher Anthony Meindl suggests in his Backstage Article (November 27, 2012 issue) 3 Steps To Stopping Negative Thoughts, to just, Stop, Drop, and Roll with a better Thought. He explains how. Still, easier said than done.

But it can be done. We don’t know what Harvey Keitel was thinking after auditioning for the 6th, 7th time for the Actor’s Studio. Neither do we know what went through Fred Astaire’s mind when he didn’t get what he wanted. Lucille Ball turned out quite a bit less shy than she was accused of, and, after Bing left the MET, Beverly Sills was in. But if your self-esteem starts tottering because your phone is not ringing and you’re not able to stop your negative chatter even with knowing the 26 reasons why you didn’t get the part, and neither can you, stop, drop and roll your negative thoughts, what could you do then?

Oboe players need to make their reeds (fun?). Singers/actors need to audition. It’s part of the profession. So, here we go. You have to get ready for your next audition. Right? You cannot let your former (unsuccessful) experience make you become inhibited or aim for ‘play-safe.’ You have to build your power within and you cannot build inner strength on self-doubt. You express your ‘inner world’ to the ‘outer world.’ If you want people to like, love, and respect you, start with yourself first. Think about it.

Look in the mirror and say: I like myself! I love myself! I respect myself! Awkward? Good! You can only build your inner strength when you’re willing to feel awkward in the process of it. Expecting anyone else to like, love, and respect you, requires that you like, love, and respect yourself. Make an inventory of all the things you like about yourself and read them out loud every day. You need to be inspired, confident, and believing in your capabilities and immune for negativity if you don’t want to give up.

Can you remember that one time that you were at your absolute best? That you were a success? It doesn’t matter if it was at your HS or your church or if you performed in the living room surrounded by family. Remember the feeling? Hold on to that sensation of accomplishment, that feeling of pride and happiness. Shakespeare wrote: ‘There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” In other words, you can take that, minor but positive experience, and dwell on it. You can dwell on the insignificance of it and feel demotivated and/or discouraged or, you can dwell on the effectiveness of the experience and the positive feelings it created for you. In the latter case, you will feel relaxed, confident and capable for your next audition. The great news is, our unconscious mind cannot differentiate between a real experience and one that you vividly remember, or make up for that matter.

And on top of that, the unconscious mind will store it for you. So the more often you re-live your success, the more confident you will become. You’ll attract in the outer-world what you see, feel, and believe in your inner-world. Life is a mirror.

That is the power you have! Audrey Hepburn said, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible!” So don’t give up. You might be a Harvey, Lucille, Fred, Beverly, or Audrey Hepburn after all!


Wilma Wever, Performance EmPowering, NYC, December 2012

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