The NO Story
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Mary Callahan in Actors, Brooke Thomas, Inspiration

I remember when we first started teaching, Brooke would talk right away to our students about rejection. At this point she had 2 kids under the age of 6 and I was in a beautiful, young and fun relationship with no clue about kid-dom.  I found the story truly inspirational and funny. I call it the “NO” story and I still reflect on it pretty much daily. It goes a little something like this.

From the moment we are born we hear the word no. Yes, most of us are lucky and have parents who want to swaddle us and make us as comfortable as possible, but we are still told we can’t eat the ice cream, we can’t eat the legos and it’s time for bed.  As we get to be toddlers, we decide that we don’t like the word no at all, so when we hear it we throw a raging fit on the floor in the middle of Target because we can’t have that ridiculous toy we will never play with anyway. Even if our parents drag us out of that Target by our un-brushed morning hair, we still feel better to have gotten that rage out. Imagine if we could do that as adults.  Well, we can’t or we certainly shouldn’t. We are adults and it is unacceptable to do that anymore. So to deal with the pain of hearing no, we avoid it. So we stop asking. We become fearful of “NO”.

Actors, writers and creatives have it the worst. You will be rejected constantly. Know this, practice yoga or meditation and deal with it. Clearly, in casting, we see it every single day. Rejecting is part of our job and we don’t get giddy doing it. We simply can’t see every actor. How do we decide whom to say yes to? We say yes to who we think is right for the job. Not who our best friend is or whom we like the most but who is closest to the character breakdown given to us by the agency.  Our job is to show the director and the advertising agency a perfect fit. They pretty much decide from there. Someone wins the part- and the other 99% don’t. 

Listen, this business is for tough bloods, gamblers, believers, survivors. I’m glad to meet them every day. I could name the many thousands of talented people I have seen been rejected for a Verizon, Bud Light, Olive Garden or 1-800-Carsforbars commercial but there are (Ed Helms), JUST (Jim Gaffigan), TOO (Hayden Panettiere), MANY (Ty Burell), TO (Nick Kroll), NAME (Aubrey Plaza,Kate McKinnon, Matt ServittoGeorge Clooney). Okay, maybe not Clooney.  The point is, they kept asking. And you should too. Now, shut the front door and scream into your pillow, it’s cold outside.

Article originally appeared on Brooke & Mary (
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