Live to fail another day: The best #ShareYourRejection stories
Writers, authors, and actors have taken to social media to share their rejection stories and show that breaking into the entertainment business takes hard work and tenacity. Posted with the hashtag #ShareYourRejection, creatives are hoping that young readers will see their struggle and feel inspired to pursue their ambitions, no matter what field, and to carry on even when they take a knockback.
Because let’s face it – getting shut down sucks. But it is part and parcel of building a career and following your passions and without it you’ll never learn from your mistakes and sharpen your skills. With this in mind, we’re taking a look at some of the best #ShareYourRejection stories that show determination is key to a career in the creative arts.
Lauren Morelli and Orange Is the New Black
Proving it was no simple feat entering the writers’ room, writer Lauren Morelli revealed how she was rejected from the Warner Brothers TV writers’ workshop three years in a row. “The next year, I got staffed on Orange Is the New Black,” she announced. Three is the magic number? Let’s make that four (ad infinitum).
John August and Catwoman
As one of the big success stories in the business, screenwriter John August has penned the scripts for a range of films, from Big Fish to The Nines. However, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the writer, who pitched a Catwoman spinoff film starring Michelle Pfeiffer back in the late 90s. “Producer excited,” noted August. “After pitch, exec insisted it needed to be Sarah Michelle Gellar and involve hair-washing scene, then showed me Matrix trailer.”
August then went on to post a number of pages from the pitch, stating: “Found my old pitch and I actually still love it. Dated January 13, 1999.” What with the superhero genre going from strength to strength in recent years, a Catwoman film seems ripe for a big screen adaptation. Could August be the one to pen the script? It’s a slim chance right now, but at least his story serves as a reminder of how difficult it is to see stories (even ones as well considered as his) make it past the maybe pile.
Phil LaMarr and his re-audition
Actor Phil LaMarr was made to re-audition for a part he was already playing. And he got the part! In his #ShareYourRejection story, LaMarr wrote, “I played a character on a TV show. The next time the character appeared, they put out a casting notice to replace me. But they said I was welcome to come audition again. I thought ‘hey, I’ve sucked before but never gotten a do-over!’ I re-auditioned & got it!” Proof that in the tricky world of acting, rejection is always around the corner – even when you’ve already got the part.
Britt Matt overcoming obstacles
Like so many of the rejection stories in the creative field, TV writer Britt Matt said she was rejected by prestigious writing programs numerous times, but still managed to thrive and build a successful career by picking herself up and carrying on.
“I was rejected from the ABC/Disney writing program Dec 2016,” declared Matt. “I’m now an Executive Story Editor on my 4th season of writing television. A fellow rejectee from the same year @StevenCanals went on to create @PoseOnFX. It’s been less than 3 years. Keep grinding.”
Jesse Cox and his “dumb voice”
Getting pied for a job might seem painful at the time, but as voice actor Jesse Cox proves, sometimes one person’s slush pile is another one’s gold. “I tried my hardest to do voice overs during college,” explained Cox. “After 2 years of failing to land a gig, my agent dumped me and said ‘your dumb voice isn’t ever going to be on TV or radio’. She was right. 15 years later I’m making videos with my dumb voice on the internet.”
Elaine Hendrix and her comedy quip
Elaine Hendrix – you know, the goddess from such comedic classics as Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, The Parent Trap, and more recently Transparent – was told at the beginning of her career by her manager that she’d never do comedy. “Now THAT was hilarious,” quipped Hendrix like the total boss she is.
Karen M. McManus and One of Us Is Lying
Showing how tricky the publishing gig can be, Karen M. McManus explained how she was rejected for a query even after making it to the New York Times bestseller list.
“120+ query rejections on my first two (shelved) books. I sent my first query for One of Us Is Lying to my dream agent, and she signed me & sold it a couple of months later. Then I got another query rejection after it hit the NYT bestseller list.” Be prepared for many knock backs in the world of novel writing – even after you’ve made a name for yourself.
Sarah Fawn Montgomery and her coffee table inspiration
This one’s not so much a specific rejection story, but more one to inspire creatives out there who are struggling. Best-selling author Sarah Fawn Montgomery revealed how she “decoupaged all my rejections onto a coffee table in my office as a reminder to keep trying,” adding that “eventually, my work found homes in many of these same places.” Keep trying, folks – you’ll get there in the end.
Nicola Thorp and the sinister side of acting
British actress Nicola Thorp’s story reflects the sinister side of the acting business where racial prejudice is still shockingly prevalent, stating: “I was told by a casting team for a well known British film that I wasn’t suitable for an audition because they were only looking for white girls for the four lead females . . . I’m white, but even I wasn’t ‘white enough’.”
Jorge R. Gutierrez and The Book of Life
Famed animator Jorge R. Gutierrez gave a rundown of his rejections, including the fact that none other than fantasy masterpiece The Book of Life was turned down by everyone except for Fox. I was fired from a Disney show as a character designer. I deserved it,” said Gutierrez, “We had 5 pilots at WB, Disney and Nick that did not go to series. The Book of Life was rejected by every studio except for Fox.” Thank the lawd Fox did bank on the film because Gutierrez’s gorgeous animation is a treat.