This is Our Story

We're the Sprayberrys and we moved to Los Angeles about four years ago to have our go at Hollywood. When we met the folks at Children In Film, they thought it would be a great idea if we documented our story. After all, our failures and successes (hopefully more the latter than the former) can be your lesson book.

So here you have it - Dylan and Ellery working through the ups and downs of being child actors - their mother and I working hard every day to ensure their success not only as actors, but also as well-adjusted members of society.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Managing Rejection - It's a Process

Rejection - Part II

When we first got here, I thought we would advance much faster than we did, but we didn't. That did not, however, mean we weren't moving in the right direction. But we had to learn that fact.

This business, like any business, is a learning experience.
What we learned is that "making it in showbiz" is a process. It's a series of steps or stages which we move through together. We must realize that it's not always an overnight success situation. Sure, it can be, but that is not the norm. So for those of you who may feel like things are moving slowly or are needing help managing rejection, I will share with you some of the things we learned during this process of becoming a showbiz family and managing this thing called rejection.

Realizing that you simply lost a role. You weren't personally rejected.

The basic rule is that you need about 2 to 3 years, minimum, to click with the theatrical portion of the business. For us, the most important part of this time period was to learn to balance the "mourning" of the loss of a role we had felt really good about with staying positive for the next set of sides coming our way. It took us a while to learn to manage our losses (rejection). It requires understanding that it just wasn't meant for us. We didn't like it, but that's the way it is. But once you can get in the habit of saying, "That role wasn't for me," the loss isn't so hard.

In July of 2006 Dylan went out for an Owen Wilson film, Drillbit Taylor. We had just signed with our agent and managers, Dylan did great in the audition, casting asked him to meet the producers the following day and so we were thinking, "we got it!"

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

It was an eight-week wait that we hung onto with great expectations! That experience was the beginning of learning to deal with rejection and how to not drag your child into your adult-desperation mindset.

Here's a new way of looking at it: We were not rejected. We just weren't the right choice in the eyes of the decision making team.

It puts a new perspective on things, doesn't it? It does not mean, in any way, that Dylan wasn't good. It was just a choice they made for that role, and looking at it that way makes it a lot easier to walk away from.

Learning the way your child reacts -

Some kids take things differently than others. I have seen all ranges. Some kids cry; some kids could care less. Some try to understand why they didn't get the booking while others walk away from it and switch to a child-at-play state of mind. I believe how a child handles role losses is determined by two things:
  1. How they are raised - which determines how they handle life in general
  2. How the parent handles Hollywood rejection
Ellery recently experienced a five month auditioning process for a film franchise, Eloise. We were in, we were out, she performed 12 challenging scenes, she performed a song, we had six meetings - two with the director, it got down to six girls... and we didn't get it. The Eloise road came to an end in January. We felt that Ellery was so good for this character; realistically we also felt that she may have been too young. This rejection was monumental... if, that is, you choose to look at it like that. We don't and didn't. Neither does Ellery. I will always treasure what Ellery said that day as she, her coach and I drove off. "I know I did great. That's the best I can do. Can we go swimming when I get home Daddy?"

Her coach and I intentionally did not discuss her audition. She had done well and it was now out of our hands. As we say in Texas, "Don't beat a dead horse." We had to believe that things happen for a reason and we took the day to work through and process all of our thoughts on the matter. Then we moved on and we didn't discuss it with Ellery. Leaving her with the "I did great," thought was the best thing to do to help her deal with what could have felt like a big rejection.

Five days later, Dylan and Ellery booked a feature as on-screen sister and brother!

Learning that rejection can make you stronger -

It takes practice to manage rejection and you will get better each day. One thing we do that helps is that Dana and I keep our post-audition thoughts away from the kids. The kids focus on the audition work - that's where the talking happens and the work gets done. We are serious about being successful and we are even more serious about keeping the children genuine, fun-loving and balanced. It seems that when you focus on this balance, rejection gets minimized. In closing, I believe the world is full of rejection. It's around each corner of life, and Hollywood just happens to be the teacher for our kids. Hollywood is teaching them how to be strong which makes good leaders and is a skill they will carry with them no matter what their future holds.

1 comment:

Brooke and Beth's mom said...

My identical twin girls auditioned for the part of Eloise! There still has not been an official announcement of the girl who has been chosen that I am aware of. Helping our kids to understand what rejection means in the biz is very important. I like what you have written here.