Voice Actor's Notebook

Don’t sweat audition rejection (it ain’t worth it)

Don't sweat rejection at voice over auditionsThere’s nothing more exciting than sitting in a room full of anxious actors awaiting the call to come in and audition. No, really. There’s nothing more exciting. Well, maybe watching the dust settle into little piles in the room’s corners might rank a little higher on my excitement scale (but that’s just my opinion.)

Recently for the sake of my craft, I had the “joy” of enduring one such audition. But this acting job was for more than just my voice, it was for a spot in a TV commercial. And if you’ve never been part of an audition for an on-camera spot, then let me share a little bit of enlightenment with you: auditioning for on-camera spots takes the possible rejection to a whole new level of OUCH!

…unless you’ve been educated in how to deal with it in the most ego-friendly way possible…

The selection process for a voice over spot is pretty straightforward: he or she with the best voice for the project wins. There may have been many voice actors at the audition who had the vocal acting chops to successfully do the spot, but only one had the voice that best fit the project.

Unlike a voice over audition — which basically consists of two dimensions: vocal quality and acting ability — an audition for an on-camera spot has four dimensions:

  • vocal quality
  • acting ability (are you believable)
  • appearance, visual quality (do you look the part)
  • gestures, movement (do you move in the envisioned way)

Why is this important?

You’ve probably heard that actors need a tough skin to handle the rejection of this business. It’s true. But it’s easier to handle the failed audition when you know that, other than your acting ability, a lot of the selection process is out of your hands, beyond your control. For voice over work, you don’t know exactly what kind of voice is needed, so it’s next to impossible to prepare for that element.

For on-camera jobs, you don’t know what exactly the men and women behind the table are looking for (equally daunting).

Knowing this, it’s much easier to handle rejection when it comes your way. You may have done a fantastic audition, but your style just wasn’t what the directors or producers were looking for; it isn’t something you could have controled.

An Eye-Opening View

I highly recommend seeing the documentary called Every Little Step. It takes you through the actual audition process for the new cast of the musical A Chorus Line. You can see and hear the top choices for each role, hear what the producers have to say about actors and actresses, and see the final choices. It’s an eye-opening look into the world of auditioning. A must-see. And while at first you might be thinking, “Ooh! Not getting the part has gotta hurt something fierce!” Keep in mind that most of the rejections are based not on poor performance, but rather on being not quite right for the part.

There is a BIG difference.

And it’s something that you need to keep firmly in mind and in heart when you get the phone call that begins with “Sorry, but…”

Life goes on

Oh! And you may be wondering if I got the job. Unfortunately, no. I was told that they needed someone who looked older and more mature (more gray hair and facial wrinkles to be exact). And while the compliment about my youthful appearance at the age of 40 was greatly appreciated (my ego soaked it up), I would have savored the paying gig much, much more.

Oh well… there’s always another audition just around the bend. And as long as I can keep the periodic rejection in its proper mental place, then I will continue to audition for the sake of the career I so do love.


  1. Great points, David! Ultimately, auditioning is not a process of rejection. It’s a process of selection. Just because you didn’t land that gig, doesn’t mean that your career is over. As long as you know that you gave it your all, you move on to the next thing.

    I listed some of my favorite auditioning tips at the end of this article:


  2. Paul,

    Thanks for the comment!

    I like how you put it: “…auditioning is not a process of rejection. It’s a process of selection.” So true, so true so true. I also like the article you linked to above (and I just now noticed that I’ve been a subscriber to your blog for the past 3 months or so. Good stuff!)

    All the best,

  3. I love the positivity and it couldn’t be truer. Like every aspect of acting industry (maybe every competitive industry) there’s always heart break and disappointment. Every voice over actor has felt the pain of rejection and even disillusion with work.

    You’ve just got to pick yourself up and hit the next audition with even more vigor. Make sure to ask why this job slipped you by. It may stand to you for the next!

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