Matthew Jacobs Morgan on the things you can do to show yourself some compassion post audition…
As part of our series on mental health this Mental Health Awareness Week, here is performer and filmmaker Matthew Jacobs Morgan on the importance of self-care (and how to do it well!) after you’ve had that all important audition.
If you’re busy eating tacos with your mates or watching the new Leonardo Di Caprio movie, you won’t have any time to be thinking negative thoughts or to overanalyse the way in which the Casting Director said “well done”. Instead you’ll be thinking ‘mmm, these tacos are good’, or ‘mmm, Leonardo Di Caprio’. And both are a very good thing.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll go into a head spin after an audition. Particularly if it was something you were really excited about. You’ll obsess about whether your handshake was too firm, whether they noticed that you called a character “Tim” instead of “Tom”, and you’ll list all the things you could’ve done differently. I’ve been told by many of my actor friends that this is normal, but we all agree on one thing: it’s not healthy! I started acting when I was 14, so have probably had close to 100 post-audition experiences like this. It’s only been in the past few years that I have figured out how to properly decompress and take care of my mental wellbeing in the aftermath of an audition. Here are some things that I do in order to avoid sleepless nights and to help me to let go.
Throw everything away.
As soon as you walk out of the audition room, throw away the sides, delete the script, and move the email from your agent to your trash folder (or at least a separate folder from your inbox). Otherwise you’ll read it again and again and fantasise about when you get the job. The best thing you can do is forget about it. If you get recalled or offered the part, they’ll send everything over again anyway. There’s also something quite cleansing about purging everything to do with that audition. It means that any further movement on it will come as a pleasant surprise.
Plan something for immediately after the audition to take your mind off of it.
For me, the hours following an audition are a key time for self-doubt to manifest itself. Whereas if you’re busy eating tacos with your mates or watching the new Leonardo Di Caprio movie, you won’t have any time to be thinking negative thoughts or to overanalyse the way in which the Casting Director said “well done”. Instead you’ll be thinking ‘mmm, these tacos are good’, or ‘mmm, Leonardo Di Caprio’. And both are a very good thing.
3. Don’t Tell Anyone
Don’t go around telling everyone about your potential job.
When I was younger, whenever I was super excited about a job I would tell all my close friends and family members about it. They would always be keen to know what I’m up to so they could send positive vibes my way or keep an eye out for it. It’s all very well meaning but in my opinion, it’s not a good idea.
If your friends, like mine, are supportive, they’ll ask for updates, which will only make you feel rubbish if you haven’t heard anything. Or worse, if you know you didn’t get the job. This can also come back to bite you in the bum when the play/TV show/film is eventually released. Even if your friends say X actor was rubbish and you would have been much better it’ll still make you feel bad, and it doesn’t make a difference anyway. This leads me onto my next point
4. Don’t Google/IMDb the Project!
Don’t Google the project to see who got the part!
Even if they are a completely different casting type than you, and you can see that the team really did go a different way, it’ll only make you feel like rubbish. Instead, Google pictures of baby hippos. It’s much less risky.
5. Communicate With Your Agent
Ask them to find out an answer either way.
I’m very lucky in that my agents value my time. They know that for any given job I might have spent days or even weeks prepping, whether it’s taking dialect coaching, singing lessons, or staying awake all night learning a 5 page monologue. They know that I want to know if I haven’t got it. Have a frank chat with your agent about getting an answer. A “no” is much better for your mental health than staying in limbo.
6. Look to Your Hobbies
Have a non-industry hobby. Something completely unrelated. Singing classes/dance classes don’t count! Find something completely the opposite of performing that also makes you happy or at least keeps you entertained. It’ll mean you’ll be able to mentally check out of the industry and all the competition that goes with it. I have friends who’ve got really into painting or coding (I still don’t know what that means!). My thing is languages. I’m doing an Open University degree in French and I absolutely love it.
7. Be Realistic
I once went up for an amazingly exciting job based in the Caribbean. I imagined myself shooting it; being flown out to the Caribbean and being put up in a 5 star resort for the duration of the film. I didn’t get it, but my friend did and told me that all of that stuff was actually shot on a green screen somewhere in West London… This is an extreme example, but my point is that everything isn’t always as it seems. We dream big, which is what propels us forward, but it can sometimes be helpful to be realistic about the jobs we’re going up for. It’ll mean you won’t attach as much meaning to the outcome.
8. Put Things in Perspective
This might be quite niche and specific to me, but whenever something is bugging me, I always like to put on a documentary about space. Bear with me… I find that having something to remind you that there is an entire universe out there, and that our problems and stresses are just little electrical signals firing (or misfiring) in our brains, can be extremely freeing.
Our struggles and our problems are real and mean a lot to us, and of course if things are bad then go and speak to someone about it (your doctor, a friend or a therapist). However, if you feel like it’s just a blip, then I always find that this is a quick and easy fix. I personally love anything by Brian Cox (Human Universe, Forces of Nature).
Although the industry is the centre of our world, it is important to remember that many other worlds exist…
Matthew Jacobs Morgan is an actor and filmmaker from London. His credits as an actor include Our Town (Almeida Theatre), Tommy (New Wolsey) and the TV series Cuffs, Wasted, Love Nina, Midsomer Murders and upcoming C4 Drama Pure. He has numerous TV series and films in development including Dylan & Gracie which is under option at Tiger Aspect and Vamping which is being developed on 4Screenwriting.
Image credit: Michael Shelford