Warning: This week’s column will be touchy-feely, The Tao of Pooh, Oprah-on-a-mountaintop in tone. Avert your eyes if you prefer your advice more straight-up business-oriented.

Everyone has been hurt in this industry. We’ve all wanted jobs we didn’t get. We’ve been dumped by agents we thought really GOT us. We’ve lost clients we KNEW would keep us around for the long haul. We’ve even DONE the job and then been cut out of the final version. NO ONE in this industry is immune from the heartbreak of having been a part of something great and then having that something great slip away. Directors lose out on seeing their vision correctly marketed when studios re-cut their films. Writers watch their carefully-crafted words get twisted up and rendered unrecognizable. Casting directors see producers take their brilliant cast lists and choose to “cast the films without the CD.” Agents are left out of acceptance speeches. Managers are dumped after having built actors’ careers. So if we have all BEEN THERE before, why are we so bad at handling it, when it happens to us again?

Accepting the Reality of It

The first order of business is accepting that being dumped, being cut out of the final project, not being cast after having been told you were THE BEST actor at the audition, losing a connection with someone you were sure would be with you through the good times and bad is simply a part of life in this industry. Heck, it’s a part of life itself. Even folks who don’t live in the entertainment industry will be dumped at some point. Just knowing you’re a part of a universal fraternity of sorts should ease the blow. Should. I know, I know. It still sucks. Accept that it’s going to happen, soak it all in, and move on quickly. Speed of recovery from painful life experiences is what we’re looking for, not the absence of pain.

Tips for Enduring Dumpsville

Since being dumped is a reality, let’s look at some of the best ways to weather the storm.

Focus on where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow, not where you were and how you got hurt there. One of the things that keeps us stuck in emotional pain of any kind is the need to remain in the moment for longer than that moment itself. It’s like we believe, by staying in pain, we’re honoring the experience and justifying our emotion over it in the first place. Refer back to my column on Actor Funk for advice about that particular notion. One of the best gifts you can give yourself, as someone who has been hurt by another person is MOVING ON. One of my favorite quotes comes from Cindy Clabough. “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Right on. Sure, feel the feelings, but move on. You’re not getting over it any sooner by holding on. Get in the habit of saying, “Wow. That wasn’t fun. Oh well. NEXT!”

Learn the lesson and examine the other party’s intention. This one has been huge for me, personally. I’ll share a specific example from my casting career. Early on, I didn’t use a deal memo. I thought a contract was a little too formal for the type of casting/producer relationship I was hoping for. Oops. Yeah, I haven’t made that mistake again. I ended up doing a buttload of work, sharing my casting list with the producer of this particular project (a casting list that took weeks to assemble), and, well, of course — after I’d provided a list that included agency and management contacts, angles to take in approaching these actors with this material, actor availability and rate quotes — this would a casting job that anyone could do without a casting director. And, that’s exactly what happened. I called a dear friend of mine who is also a casting director and he welcomed me to the fold. It seems you’re not truly a professional in this town until you’ve been screwed royally.

So, how did I get over this whole thing? I learned the lesson: Don’t work without a signed deal memo. And I examined the other party’s intention: To get the project cast. Did the producer enter into a relationship with me with the intention of screwing me over? No. Of course not. It was simply due to the fact that I was a green newbie that I didn’t protect myself (and my work product) better. How could I have known that sharing a list with someone I’d been working with for a couple of weeks was going to mean the end of my gig? I thought we were collaborating! And y’know what? So did he, probably. But because I gave away so much of my “worth,” he didn’t need me anymore. That’s not to say that he intended to find a new CD to punk. He just took what I gave him and moved forward without me. Lesson learned.

Never take it personally, even if it is personal (but usually, it’s not personal, even when it feels personal). This one follows nicely on the lesson/intention item above. I had to realize that getting dumped was not personal. This is business. Sure, I know it can feel personal (heck, it can even be personal), but you have to learn how to not take it personally, lest you wish to lose valuable energy and mental stability over it. Another of my favorite quotes is from Deepak Chopra: “Energy is currency. How do you wish to spend it?” When I first heard that, I visualized every thought I “spent” on an issue as money flowing out of my hands. Believe me, I was very quick to change my “energy flow” after imagining a literal expense with each resentful thought. And truly, an expense of mindset and emotions is more steep a cost than money any day.

Cultivate a business model that includes gratitude and grace. In the end, you are the one who is responsible for the “face” you put on your business. No matter what you experience, the grace with which you handle it becomes what people remember about you. If you can shift your perspective from how to endure the struggle to how you want to be thought of, in the long term, you’ll usually make the more grace-filled choice. Gratitude complements grace quite nicely, as your willingness to be grateful for all of the good that came from a relationship, prior to the “dump,” is important.

Sure, you can fantasize about the evil ways in which you’d treat someone, if you could really retaliate as you wish without any repercussions. But don’t you dare act on those instincts! This is a small town and you’d like to work again. In a few weeks, months, or years no one will even remember this particular break. What they will remember is how you handled yourself, when you wanted to rail against someone for doing you wrong. If you stay grateful for all that they did while you were on the same team, you’ll come off looking much better. If you’re an agent or manager who has been dumped right after getting your client to a really sweet level, be grateful for the commissions you DID earn. If you’re an actor who has been dropped by your rep, be grateful for the number of casting offices the agent or manager DID get you into. Remember what was GOOD about the relationship and don’t react over only the most recent experience. Put this into perspective with the WHOLE of your experiences. I’m not telling you to stifle your feelings, just advising that you make your public reaction one filled with gratitude and grace. Tell it like it is, but keep emotions out of it. That choice will serve you very well over the course of your career, with your integrity and values intact.

And in the end, that’s far more important than getting to express your emotions over having been dumped. Like with most issues in this crazy business, you’re going to have to develop a healthy mindset in order to last. Here’s hoping you have great staying power in the industry. And the good mental health to go with it!

I’d love to know your best coping strategies for these types of things! Share ’em in the comments section below. Let’s chat it up! 🙂

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000380.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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  1. Jim McKeny May 22, 2012 at 4:29 am


    Such a wonderful blog in general and today’s column specifically! As I’ve gotten older it has gotten easier to weather the “slings and arrows”.

    After multiple auditions, I recently landed a nice little recurring role on a new TV series. A couple weeks later, my agent calls to tell me that they wrote the character out. My first reaction? I laughed. Counter-intuitive, right? First I laughed then I got out of town and went on a fishing trip.

    Was I bummed? Sure, but Thank God I also had perspective. I can assure you that in the past this scenario would not have been handled the same way.

    Thank you for great information. Keep up the wonderful work.


  2. Bonnie Gillespie May 22, 2012 at 4:34 am

    Jim, thank you. 🙂 So glad you’re enjoying the dialogue here in the archives.

    My husband has a great saying: “There are not bad things or good things that happen to you… only THINGS and the grace wit which you handle them.”

    Your booking story is a great example of that. You handled it with grace. 😀 And isn’t that delicious?

    Keep rockin’!


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