By Winona Virgil
It’s happened… again. Your name isn’t on the cast list but the girl you despise has gotten the lead despite being the lead in every production thus far. Your mind is blank as you see all the same names you saw on last years list.
“It’s not fair!” you think to yourself. You could’ve sworn you had a good audition! You practiced for months for this single audition. Yet you’re stuck standing there teary eyed but you’re not surprised.
There’s an explanation for that feeling of hopelessness in your gut. There is a cause to the sinking feeling of your self esteem going down the gutter. A very reasonable explanation on why you haven’t received a single callback, despite auditioning for every single production, is put into a single word.
Favoritism: the practice of giving unfair preferential treatment to one person or group at the expense of another.
Have you noticed that there is one person that is always in the spotlight without having to work at all? It’s easy to spot favoritism, especially when that one person isn’t necessarily naturally talented.
You are not alone. I know first hand what favoritism feels like as I have devoted my time and effort to audition for every single production in a specific theatre company. Sure, you could say that maybe I’m just untalented. But take into consideration that I was able to beat hundreds of people to a role in other companies. Does it make sense to call myself untalented when the evidence lays itself out so easily?
Favoritism damages self esteem in ways you wouldn’t even think about. Every cast list post is another stab into the heart that screams ‘You’re not good enough’. ‘You’ll never make it’ ‘That person is so much better than you.’ It feels like the director didn’t even look at your audition. Quoted from the CNN article “When a Teacher Plays Favorites”
“It can be demoralizing to other students not on the receiving side of said favoritism” (CNN.com)
But it’s not something we can just get rid of. We can’t just click our heels three times and wish for a lead role. Favoritism is unavoidable. According to Playbill.Com’s advice column ‘Hey Johnny!’
“One thing to know however: favoritism continues all the way up to broadway.” (Playbill.com)
If favoritism is unavoidable… what can we do?
Well, we start off with our mindset. We stop thinking ‘I’m not good enough’ and start thinking ‘I know I’m good enough to be on this list.’. That’s a start but it’s not the healthiest to be bitter and believe you’re the best (even if you know deep down it’s the truth). Instead of lying in bed and crying, look for auditions for other theatre companies and productions. My father once told me “You’re allowed one day to cry but the next day you better pick yourself up and start anew.” That advice has always stuck with me and helped me overcome my favoritism fueled rejections.
Another way to overcome, is hard work. Use those rejections as rocket fuel for yourself to shoot beyond the stars. You can use them to become an even better performer, it creates this void that pushes you to work harder than beyond belief. Your hard work will pay off when you audition for other productions.
Don’t give up. You’re not alone in your battle against favoritism. Though theatre may be political, that doesn’t mean you can’t win. Work hard, play hard, be the performer you strive to be.