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How To Collect The “No’s” + Turn Them Into “Yes.” (My personal story of 10 agents turning me down.)

Have you been facing tons of rejection lately? Have you allowed it to devastate you? You’re not alone.

As actors, collecting the “no’s” should be part of our job description, and yet no one really teaches us how to do that without getting defeated.

Whether it’s not booking the job, not getting the callback or not getting signed by an agent, all of the rejection can chip away at your confidence.

It’s your ability to not allow any of these experiences to turn into a negative belief about yourself that really is the key.
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That really is it. It’s how you handle all the rejection, without letting it devastate you, define you or defeat you that will ultimately determine your success.

So don’t take one experience of rejection and allow it to define who you are + what will or won’t happen in your career.

Your thoughts become beliefs, and you get to choose the story you will tell yourself and others.

When you don’t book the job, don’t turn it into, “I’m not good enough.”
When you don’t get the callback, don’t turn it into “I’ll never book a job.
When an agent passes on you, don’t turn it into “I”ll never find good representation.”

Heck, I had 10 top agents pass on me when I was first starting out early in my career, doing commercials.

They all told me I was:

  • I was too tall
  • Not commercial enough
  • I was more of a theatrical type
  • There was too much competition
  • I didn’t have enough experience (uh, that’s why I was trying to get an agent.)
  • They had too many white women in their 20’s
  • They had someone exactly like me… (my personal favorite – I’m sure she’s tons of fun.)

That was their story. But I didn’t make it mine.

The more they told me NO. 
The more I told me YES.

Did I cry in my car? Sure.

Did I call my mom wondering what else I should be doing to succeed? Sure.

Did she tell me I should be one of “The Friends?” Sure.
(Yes, she called it “The Friends.”)

Did I pick myself up and keep going? Yes I did.

I got a much smaller agent (all the way out in Pasadena, who always had me pick an angel card whenever I visited.)

And guess what? She helped me book my first national commercial.

And eventually, I moved on to a slightly larger agency.

And when I kept seeing the same 5 casting directors, I spoke up and told them I’d like to get in other offices, they told me to “take a chill pill” because I was booking.

That was their story. But again, I didn’t make it mine.

Instead, I walked out of their office, went to the pay phone on the corner (yes, it was that long ago) and called a casting director who had hired me several times + asked her for a referral.

She got me a meeting with a top agency the next day + I am still with those amazing agents to this day.

And three years after all those meetings where they every top agent told me NO, I booked 19 national commercials in one year.

The year after that I was offered a 26-spot campaign that turned into a 3-year spokesperson contract, which included live personal appearances and getting serenaded by my childhood crush, David Cassidy. (For those of you born in the 90’s or later, that’s Kate Cassidy’s dad.)

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And the other amazing thing, is that just a few years before, I decided to leave the dancing world to pursue acting.

My dance agent would only send me out as the Statue of Liberty or as a Vegas show girl. (#TallGirlProblems)

I did all kinds of dance jobs early on in my career, including getting cast as a dancing-viking-amazon-woman in a Chef Boyardee commercial with comedy genius, Mindy Sterling.

Yes, I’m one of the tall dancing-viking-amazon-women in a blonde wig.
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Here’s the spot if you wanna try + find me.

I eventually had to leave the dance agent + change my story again, since their story about me was, “you’re a dancer.”

That’s when I walked away + heard all those “no’s,” but kept going anyway.

I remember getting teary eyed on set, when I realized that I was now starring in a commercial with my own set of dancing snowflake girls.

Just a few short years before, I would have been one of them.

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Here’s one of many spots I did for Mervyns. This was definitely a favorite. Watch it here:

When I watch the spot now, I actually don’t find it ironic, that when I open the door in the commercial, David Cassidy asks me, “Do you believe in magic?”

Because in a lot of ways, I did.

I believed in magic when I was told no. Over and over and over again.

I believed in magic when i was told there was “too much competition.”

I believed in magic when I was told to “take a chill pill.”

I ultimately found ways to believe in myself, even though the “evidence” might have been telling me otherwise.

I sought out the teachings of great thought leaders like Wayne Dyer who reminded me to let go “of the good opinion of other people.”

And eventually I started this blog in hopes of paying what I had learned forward.

So, I’m sharing this today, to hopefully help you believe in magic again.

To help you let go of how you think it all should go.

To help you not allow the “no’s” to devastate you, define you, or defeat you.

To help you know it’s okay to call your mom + cry your eyes out (What I would give to be able to do that again. She passed away in 2010).

To help you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and begin again. (Like an enthusiastic toddler learning to walk.)

Because if you can weather the rejection, without losing your enthusiasm and belief in yourself, you will meet success along the way.

It may not be when you expect it.  It may not look exactly like you had pictured.

But, who knows, it might just be better than you had ever planned.

That is my wish for you. Change your story, believe in magic + allow life to surprise + delight you this week.

I love hearing from you.  Leave a comment here on the blog + let me know how you keep going in the face of rejection.

Love + Gratitude,

Wendy

Stillness+Trust_225P.S. Want a free guided meditation to help you “let go of how it all should go?”

Enjoy a free 30-day trial to The Spotlight Club (where I create new mindset tools for actors each month) + get Stillness + Trust: Letting Go How It All Should Go for free.

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Comments

  • Shon Wilson #1

    Thank you for this, Wendy. I really mean it. Thank you.

    Reply

  • Shantala Surya #3

    oh darling this oldie but goodie came up beautifully…i’m going through this very cycle you’ve mentioned and working with a freelance agent as I build my CD relationships. love you much

    Reply

  • Willis #4

    I love this story because I have met with 7 Big agencies and they all said “NO” I’m a Comic/ Actor and yet they said things that wasn’t my story so I keep going. I have landed somethings, but I have to keep reminding myself to not let their diffinition of me difine who I am. I know that part that is meant for me and that representation that’s for me is out there and waiting for me. I may here a thousand “NO’a”, but I only need one yes that will lead to many more. Thanks for sharing your story and encouraging all artists.

    Reply

  • Kyle #5

    This read was perfect for me today. I do believe in magic!

    Reply

  • Laurel #7

    This is so fantastic and just what the Dr. ordered, Wendy. Thank you! I’m tearing up as I read this – perfect timing. AND, I REMEMBER watching all of your Mervin’s commercials and thinking someday I want to be JUST LIKE HER!! I wanted to have the commercial career you did…and now I do in so many ways. As I still get discouraged, thank you for re-inspiring me time and time again. Hugs!!

    Reply

    • Wendy #8

      Laurel, Thank you for your kind words! We all need the reminder of how far we’ve come, since there will always be farther to go. Glad this helped you realize all you’ve done. So glad I could inspire you along the way, lovely lady! 😉 – Wendy

      Reply

  • Frankie Dietz #9

    What I love about what you say Wendy, is that everything you say applies to LIFE … as well as to this wonderful, weird & wacky business. I just took a course in Stand-Up Comedy, did a Showcase routine and had many good laughs. Laughter (as well as Singing and Dancing) is truly Good Medicine!

    Reply

    • Wendy #10

      Frankie! Yes, all the lessons I have learned from acting are really life lessons, for sure. Congrats on doing stand-up! So awesome. And yes, some of my favorite medicines are singing, dancing + comedy! 😉 – Wendy

      Reply

  • Alison Freed #11

    I also loved reading this today. Thanks, Wendy!! 😀

    Reply

  • Beth Barry #13

    I loved reading this today. Thanks so much. It’s perfect for where I am. I know there’s an incredible feature with my name on it and a certain acting coach I’ve been helped by for the past 10 years will be there to coach me through it. I keep seeing it, so I know it’s real. I believe in magic!

    Reply

    • Wendy #14

      Beth, So glad this helped you to see the big picture + love yourself right where you are. When you can hold the vision in your mind, while taking actions that inspire you, unexpected wonderful surprises will appear. Enjoy the ride! – Wendy

      Reply

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