So you’ve got a meeting. For a telly.
And it’s going pretty well.

You’ve worked with the director before and you share an anecdote that makes the producer and the casting director wet themselves.

And they laugh when you talk about the dog.

And the lines come easily, and the scene feels good.

And when the director asks you to be more front foot and faster, you are more front foot and faster. And the director nods at you and winks, like, that was what I wanted.

And they smile and nod when you get up to leave.

And the casting director squeezes your hand and whispers ‘Fantastic as ever’ as you leave.

So you go home buzzing a bit.

And you give up your seat to an older man on the tube and people smile at you. Nice guy.

So you ring your agent.

‘I think it went pretty well – they were very chatty, I did the scenes well, don’t think I could have done it any better, which is all you can ask for really.’

Next day. No news. Bit of a bummer but early days yet.

Next day: Still nothing, but you know, that’s TV for you. Ever since the day when some clown decided that creatives shouldn’t have the final decision on casting, the whole process takes that much longer.

Next day: Your agent rings you. Heart leaps seeing her name on your phone as it rings. It’s about a play reading. You say yes. ‘Nothing from (X) – obviously I’ll let you know if I hear anything.’

Next day (Friday): Nothing. You can’t bear the though of having to sweat over the weekend, so debate ringing the agent again. Decide you don’t want to bug her.

The Weekend: Torture. You talk about the meeting to friends. They are very supportive. ‘These days it takes ages’ ‘One I did, I didn’t hear for 3 weeks before I got it’ ‘You don’t need to worry until next Friday.’

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: Nothing. You shout at the postman. The dog hides. You watch ‘The Coroner’. You feel psychotic.

Friday: 5 o’clock: Nothing. You crack. You ring the agent. ‘Well, it’s not looking good, is it. I’ll give them a call and if there’s anything to tell you, I’ll ring you straight back.’ She doesn’t ring you back.

Next Friday: Nothing all week. You’ve done the play reading which was fun, and you’ve had a meeting for a commercial which went horribly because it was to play a chef and one actor turned up dressed as a chef and spent much longer in the room than you did. The agent says of the telly ‘They never got back to me, but I think you’d better let it go’ You fume.

Next Friday: You’ve heard nothing, it’s been 4 weeks now. You sort of let it go.
Four weeks later. You look on IMDB. The telly you went up for is among the ‘forthcoming projects’ for the director you met. And the part you went up for is being played by an ex stand-up comedian.


So why this blog? Why do I relay this story of woe so familiar to actors all over the world? The hours of waiting for the phone to ring. The increasing desperation as you debate whether to call your agent. I mean it’s not like I’m a rookie at this, I’ve been doing it for over 30 years, but it still really hurts that, when you don’t actually get a job, you’re not considered important enough to be told ‘no’, despite the work you may have put in, the lines learnt, the research done.

And that’s my point, the point of this blog. Things have changed, particularly within the last few years( and before I go on, this only really applies to TV) – but getting a quick ‘ no’, indeed, getting a ‘no’ at all, is increasingly rare. In this year alone, in the meetings where I didn’t get the job, I was TOLD I hadn’t got it less than half the time. And on all the occasions I didn’t get a ‘no’ there was this prolonged period after which I just had to ASSUME I hadn’t got it.

And of course it’s not everybody – some casting directors get back to your agent straight away with an answer and even FEEDBACK (and there’s another debate!) But to those who don’t, all I ask is this – if it’s clear I haven’t got the job, please let my agent know as soon as possible. It’s an email. Or a call. And we have enough rejection as an actor without having to worry for weeks whether we’ve been rejected or not.

Let us off the hook.

Don’t leave us Hangin’ Bruv/Sis’.

Just say No – (That is of course if you’re not going to say ‘yes’ which would be LOVELY!)

Series 3 of the podcast is coming soon, including interviews with Adrian Lester, Joanna Scanlan, Tom Riley, Kate Fleetwood and Jonjo O’Neill. Series 1 & 2 are available free on iTunes, along with a special live episode for Equity recorded in November 2018, and follow-up interviews with all seven of the emerging actors, conducted in October. Go have a listen

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Trevor Cooper

Actor for 36 years and counting. Also a Voice-Over Artist, Singer, Assistant Choreographer and *genuine* Ballet Mistress, Drama Coach, Acting Teacher, Stage-Fighter (2nd attempt), Designated Driver, Ex-Husband, Security Guard, Minicab Driver, Friend, Son, Brother, Lover …and Good Company Member.