As an actor, rejection is inevitable. Rejection, disappointment, and uncertainty are guaranteed regardless of your credit or success.
Part of finding peace as an actor is learning how to find joy and contentment through the journey, not just with the outcome. Knowing how to take each ‘no’ (or lack of reply) in a way that does not result in crying in bed whilst listening to acoustic sad playlists on Spotify, is crucial.
Back when I graduated from drama school, this was a lesson I desperately needed to learn.
Unless I was balancing at least three creative projects, achieving offers weekly and auditioning every other day, I felt like a failure. When I received my first proper rejection, I didn’t know how to cope.
I remember staring at the email on my laptop and blinking back tears. Thoughts like: maybe this means I’ll never book anything, raced through my mind.
I was too embarrassed to tell my family that I hadn’t booked the job and to this day I pretended I never heard back.
What could I do? I didn’t want to wait for someone else to kick start my career when the kicks weren’t even coming.
Any actor knows this all too well: it comes down to more than talent and hard work; sometimes it just isn’t meant to be. The acting industry is not a meritocracy, and I struggled to accept this truth. Despite doing my best, it still may not be enough.
I was raised Muslim and taught by my Father, however, I didn’t go out of my way to do my own learning. When the first lockdown happened, I decided to begin learning Arabic, and with that came learning more about my faith.
This came hand-in-hand with meeting and connecting with other Muslims and creatives (actors, writers, directors etc) through various online groups.
In doing so, not only did I find myself feeling more whole and connected to a community, but I learnt invaluable teachings from Islam that were exactly what I needed.
If something is right for you and meant to be as Allah wills it, then it will happen. The notion of Qadar was always something I was familiar with. However, the moment I read this as an adult, I felt like something clicked into place.
I remember sitting in my box room with the ironing board (my makeshift desk) in front of me and just reading this, again and again. It felt like my heart had been hugged.
Previously, I had been so destroyed by a single rejection, hopeless with every echoing email chamber. Realising that I have my own path and must trust in Allah has been invaluable.
When booking jobs, I feel the relief of having ‘got the part’ and it’s given me internal confidence that this was meant to be for me. That I was exactly who was needed for this role and that it was the right path for me.
Of course, with a rejection, I still have feelings of disappointment. However, it is not an all-consuming wave of sadness I used to feel. Instead, I accept it, say alhamdulillah for everything I do have, and prepare myself to work harder for the next opportunity.
It is also essential to remind myself that in the end I will be measured on my deeds, not my career accomplishments. When work begins to consume me it’s an important point to come back to.
There will always be times when I struggle with something I wanted that I thought was for me. However, I continue to trust Allah and the path made for me, which brings me peace on this journey. I can relax knowing that everything is written, and I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
I still work as hard as I can, because this is who I am – but I do so knowing that I am working towards what is meant for me. If I miss out on something, that’s because it’s just not meant to be. For the things I hope are for me, I work hard and say Inshallah.