Actors coping with rejection

Claire Danes in Homeland

Claire Danes on wanting acceptance

Claire Danes admits that when she was growing up, she “wanted desperately to please, to be a good girl. I wanted acceptance. I still do.”

Like many artists, she sought acceptance in renown:

“A part of me desired fame because I associated it with love. That was a total mistake. Fame doesn’t end loneliness… I chose a public role, and it’s illusory to think that fame immunizes you from rejection. Famous or not, you can still feel invalid and unloved.”

Acting, she has found, has other payoffs.

“We’re all on an emotional journey with each other. And the point of acting is to share, to connect. That’s why I act. Acting is the greatest answer to my loneliness that I have found.” [Parade mag. Oct 2, 2005.]

Body Shaming

Danes has also brought attention to the issue of body shaming in the media – another source of feelings of rejection.

Another magazine reports that “she told People that she thought she and her good friend Lena Dunham were ‘criticized for having different body types—I was too skinny, and she was too big…. I feel like my body is…commented on infinitely more than my male counterpart.’

“It’s just so ingrained in us, the idea that we should take up the right amount of space, literally and figuratively,” Danes says.

“I’ve wrestled with this my whole life, as just a person in the world and as somebody who makes images. It’s OK to want to look and feel your best. It’s OK to work at being attractive, whatever that means to you.

“And it’s also OK to not expect to be defined by that. It’s OK to be powerful in every way: to be big, to take up space. To breathe and thrive.”

From Claire Danes’s Explanation of Body Shaming in Hollywood Is Refreshing by Brooke Hauser, Allure, November 16, 2015.

Dealing with criticism

In her article 10 Tools for Dealing with Criticism and Rejection, writer and coach Linda Dessau notes:

“Whether it’s feedback we’ve asked for, an unsolicited remark called out from the audience or a simple ‘no’ result of an audition or submission process, criticism and rejection are a huge part of our lives as creative artists.

“Sometimes we’re so fearful of being criticized or rejected that we keep our creativity bottled up and don’t let it out.”

Discouraged from trying

But discouragement may come from other people in entertainment who really should be more supportive.

In her Talk Back post, “Only Serious Actors Need Apply” (BackStage Jul 27-Aug 2, 2006), actor, writer, comedian and filmmaker Maria Menozzi noted that casting directors, teachers and even fellow actors are often negative about pursuing the dream to be an actor.

“This is the only business I know of in which people are outright discouraged from trying or continuing,” she wrote. “I have spent thousands of dollars on classes, coaching, workshops, pictures…

“I’ve been rejected, rejected, refused, and ignored – and did I mention rejected? But I have persisted, practiced, and persevered… I am an actor, and I plan on stickin’ it out for quite some time.”

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Being aware of negative messages – from both others and ourselves – plus being careful to keep encouraging a healthy self concept are among the ways to stay resilient, so rejection does not have to be so crippling or corrosive.

Related article: Rejection – does it defeat you or fuel you?

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