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The Industry

It can be disheartening when facing rejection from a recent audition. Singer, Actor, Radio Broadcast Presenter and Voiceover Artist Sandra Gayer provides her tips on how to turn rejection into opportunities and how that recent “no” could lead to something better in the future.

100 auditions, ONE job gained! Staggering odds, even if an aggregate, rather than absolute reality. We want to make the numerical gap between auditions and jobs non-existent. However, some rejection is an inevitable part of performing. Is it a negative opportunity for self-loathing, or a cleverly disguised positive opportunity for growth, indirectly gaining future work? Sounds appealing? Read on…….

As an African blind performer, you can imagine my roles are rather niche. There will always be an element of type casting for all of us. I appreciate that many roles will never be mine. Nonetheless, I choose to embrace that quality trumps quantity.

Audition success depends on how we define it. If the expectation is as narrow as, ‘success means booking the job’, disappointment will be high. What if our horizons were broader; every audition having a positive impact on your career, building your reputation as a superb performer among casting directors, sowing seeds for future roles?

No matter where a brief comes from, we’re conditioned to accept everything, any shape or size, AKA the spaghetti method; throw enough at the wall, some is bound to stick.

Contrary to popular opinion, we can decide not to apply for certain projects if they’re unsuitable. If we audition when the part is clearly not ours, we’re sending out poor judgement signals to casting teams. Remember that reputation we’re building? Casting directors have an annoying habit of appearing when you least expect; the next audition after the one you wished you hadn’t applied for! Professionals rehearse until they cannot go wrong; amateur’s practise until they get it right. Post audition, obtaining feedback, regardless of the outcome, is important. We need to know our auditions to bookings ratio; ideally booking the job every time (parity). If low; few auditions per job, what’s working? If high; numerous auditions per job, discover what’s not working. Sometimes, we’ve done everything in our power. Even then, some auditions place us in a rejection cul-de-sac; set it, forget it, move on!

It may sound counterintuitive, but rejection can be the springboard, bouncing you into the next job, no audition required! Imagine this; You apply for that perfect role. The audition sparkles, the panel responds eagerly. A week passes. That letter arrives; ‘Thank you…….’ or ’…… with regret’. Before binning your script, lamenting your wasted effort, wait! Booked the job? No! Won the room? What? Sometimes we don’t get the dream job, but the panel likes us. That can be the seed to a job just round the corner. Imagine; your agent says, “Last month’s panel would like you for a week’s filming.” I kid you not, that happened to me. If you make the effort to win the room, whatever happens with the job, you may get another without any application!

Clichés into learning opportunities

How about some cliché bingo?!

  • “Great performance, the team felt you didn’t look the part.”
  • One of my pet favourites…… “Your face wasn’t the right fit.”
  • But the winner has got to be, “You were amazing, but they’ve decided to go in a different direction.”

What does that even mean? Find out. Due diligence doesn’t stop at the point before the audition. You’ve analysed the brief from every angle; suitability, logistics, career aims. You’ve carried out background reading to enhance your performance. You’ve rehearsed and received constructive feedback from a trusted peer beforehand. Then, after the audition, you take note of opening night, be it on radio, stage or screen, to discover what the person cast in your role has that you haven’t. Perhaps they have more skill, greater technical ability or maybe, just maybe, it’s one of those things?

Strategic auditioning

We’re taught to think of auditions as serving one purpose; audition; book the job. However, we may have a different ambition in mind. You receive a brief; the part doesn’t exactly fit, but one of the Game of Thrones’ casting team is on the panel. You may decide it’s far more important to appear in front of a high-profile casting director as an exemplary performer, even if not quite right for this role, you may be perfect for a part in another future project.

Rejections. We’ve all had them, nobody relishes them. How do we deal with them? Remember, there are plenty more fish in the sea. It may not seem that way, especially if important auditions are ahead or a possible dream part. However, jobs come, jobs go. However, many we do or don’t get, more opportunities are always around the corner. Every dead-end audition is a step closer to the successful one. Don’t be too narrow in your selections, don’t be too broad either. Be realistic, yet optimistic.

In summary, redefine audition success to be broader than what’s directly in front of you, make every decision count towards the net result of future work, wasting nothing, set strict auditioning criteria and save the spaghetti for your tea!

Born in Zambia and blind/visually impaired almost from birth, Soprano Singer, Actor, Radio Broadcast Presenter and Voiceover Artist Sandra Gayer was trained in Voice, Piano and Braille Music at the Royal College of Music.

Using her voice in every area of her career, Sandra has appeared in a
wide variety of arenas including; theatrical and classical productions, T.V. and radio broadcasts.

Sandra was a guest soloist on BBC Radio 3 and the voice of Poem in
J.K. Rowling’s The Christmas Pig.

Sandra also performed at The House of Commons, The Other Palace Theatre as Calliope in the musical Orpheus the Mythical and at The Royal Albert Hall as a principal soloist in the opera Magna Carta – The Freedom Game.

Make sure to catch Sandra in Inside No.9 (Series 5, Episode 5) on BBC iPlayer. You can also find out more about Sandra at www.sandragayer.com.