Rejected Again: Why That Makes Me Happy

An actor's life can be tough.

Photo By Danielle Barnum

Photo By Danielle Barnum

Even those not in the business know that there is a lot of rejection in an actor's life.  

What's difficult, especially when you're trying to get back into a career like I am, is telling people that you're an actor and they're like, "What are you working on?" and you don't have anything to show for it. I struggle with how much I want to share with my friends and family about the auditions I'm going on. Sometimes I'm really excited about a show that I got a call back for, and then it sucks to share that I didn't get it.


Small Victories

It's important to celebrate the successes, like that feeling of nailing it in the room or getting that callback. Heck, even a smile or "Really nice work!" from the folks behind the table can feel like a huge win!

"It will be hard to explain your first milestone to friends and family back home. They are waiting to see you on TV or the big screen. It is hard to explain how a second call back for a job you didn't land was the highlight of your month and a very valid reason to celebrate."

-Jenna Fischer, actor on "The Office"
Originally published on July 13, 2006 on Jenna Fischer’s Blog on

As a director, I don't call someone back unless I feel that actor is someone who could play that part. In the callback, it's about seeing if they're a good fit for the show with the rest of the cast--seeing how all the puzzle pieces fit. It's not personal at that point:

You are talented. You could play this part.

When I'm on the other side of the table, as an actor, getting that into my brain can be challenging.

My Recent Rejection

Back in December, I was auditioning a bunch and got called back for everything I auditioned for. Huge success! Each project was something I was really excited about the possibility of performing in. I worked hard preparing for those audition, making bold choices in the room, and presenting myself in a positive light. Then I got rejected, and rejected, and rejected, and rejected...and a really big disappointing rejection. Then finally--I got cast (more on that later)!

I realized after getting all those "thanks, but no thanks" emails, what it meant was, I was putting myself out there! I may not have gotten cast in those particular shows, but I hope I was memorable and those companies and directors will think of me for future projects.

Can you find the joy in the pursuit of acting? 
- Bonnie Gillespie, SMFA 4 Ed, Pg 40.

You have to find the joy in the pursuit and in the process. If not, all that time preparing and auditioning will feel like a waste, and you may think of yourself as unsuccessful. At least I've had those thoughts before, and I don't want to think that way anymore. 

So join me in reframing our view of this process to allow joy, curiosity, and delight in the pursuit. Then take a look at my next blog entry "Performing for a Captive Audience: Headlining the Audition Circuit."

The New Years Resolution I Intend to Keep

Welcome to my website and my first blog entry!  

For many people, 2016 was...a lot. One of the big things for me in 2016 was the birth of my daughter! I made the difficult decision to leave my position as Director of Education at Bainbridge Performing Arts, in order to care for my daughter. Since then, I've felt the desire to use my mind and body for something beyond caring for a small child.

I've already accomplished a lot getting back into my acting career since having my baby and leaving my full-time job.

Zandi Carlson - Headshot - Photo by Danielle Barnum

What have I been up to?

·      Working with my acting coach, Charles Waxberg

·      Reading lots of plays

·      Finding monologues

·      Exploring my type and brand (more on that later!)

·      New Headshots (Thanks Danielle Barnum!)

·      Auditioning

·      Started this website and blog


Even though I'm a goal-setting, list-making, accomplishment-oriented kind of gal, for some reason, New Years has never been my favorite holiday. My previous resolutions have always faded quickly.

A few years back, I did a 3-week cleanse in January, and lost a bunch of weight, only to gain back even more than I lost. I was so resentful about all the restrictions I had placed on myself, I went a bit crazy with sweets in the months following.

This isn't going to be a blog about health and fitness. If you want that, then check out my friend Anna's blog on a healthier approach to fitness goal setting. She shared a great quote in Instagram which inspired me:  

I love that. I feel such a strong desire to leap into performing again and to manage my acting career. This quote reminds me to allow myself grace as I discover how to balance my new role as a mom and a working actor. 

Thanks to my friend, Charissa (Twitter: @charissajactor) I learned about Bonnie Gillespie, the author of Self-Management for Actors. I'm a big podcast listener and I recently started listening to the Inside Acting podcast.

The theme that kept resonating with me was...

This is a business of

People want to work with others who are dependable, AND who are enjoyable to work with.

Being a new mom is isolating. It is rewarding and joyful, yes, and also time-consuming, overwhelming, exhausting...the list goes on. Even with support systems in place, this tiny human depends on you. If you have to pay for childcare, things get even more complicated. With all the challenges of a new baby, I have not connected with people as much in the last 8+ months. So one of my focuses for 2017 is:

Connect with People


Strengthen Relationships

I want to...

  • Spend more time with people in person

  • See theatre and supporting artist and companies I love

  • Following up after meeting someone

  • Listen to people and ask questions

  • Create opportunities to work with others

  • Anything to really connect.

Even though I'm generally an outgoing person, I still get intimidated by people. I want to challenge myself to reach out to people I admire and respect, and to connect on a genuine, human level, rather than placing them on a pedestal. 

If you'd like to connect with me - Twitter and Instagram: @Zandi_Carlson.


Thanks for coming on this journey with me.