What’s worse than rejection as an actor? What’s worse than thinking you put in a great audition only to be told that you’re not the one? Hearing nothing at all. You spend time on audition prep, you perfect your monologue or scene and break down the script, you send in a self-tape or head into an in-person casting, only to be met with total radio silence. It’s been nearly two weeks. What the hell happened?! If you’re asking “Why haven’t I heard back about my audition?” then this article is for you.
It is fairly common for actors to ask themselves “Why haven’t I heard back about my audition?” Most likely, the reason for this is related to the casting team not having made a decision yet. They may be deliberating, or even running callbacks with actors (that still might leave you in the mix.) However, not hearing back after an audition can also be due to human error or confusion, or simply an indicator that you didn’t land the part. Try not to dwell: the best response to hearing nothing is to look for the next opportunity.
Before we jump in, a quick personal anecdote. When I teach acting to young people and we run an audition workshop, I like to follow each audition piece by having my students spin a wheel—lined with reasons they might not get the gig. “Great take,” I’ll tell them after a spin! “Just a shame that the producer thinks you look like that mean barista at their local café…” It’s a fun, silly way to learn a vital lesson: sometimes the gig won’t come to you. Remember this when you’re stressing out about hearing nothing; there are a million reasons you may not hear back, but that never diminishes the actor you are.
First of All: Relax
Not a reason, but a damn good reminder. The first thing to do if you’ve heard nothing about your audition is to relax. Distract yourself, throw yourself into your day job, or a good series or baking sourdough bread. You may even want to read over a list like this to remind yourself that there are plenty of reasons out there that you’re yet to hear anything.
And don’t forget that hearing nothing is not the same as hearing “no”. If you’re feeling good about the work you submitted, bet on yourself and have some faith! But time spent dwelling and stressing is ultimately time wasted. Focus on the next job, the next goal to tick as an actor.
They’re Still Seeing People
The last indie show I produced received over 120 applications. That’s 120 self-tapes—equalling almost five hours of footage—alongside 120+ bios and headshots to read and sort and evaluate. And given that our casting team consisted of myself, the writer and the director, we had to discuss and deliberate each choice made as a team.
So if you’re asking “why haven’t I heard back about my audition”, my first suggestion would be that they’re still looking. Casting takes time. You might send in a self-tape and think that it’s the end of your process, but for the production team that’s when the real work begins. Give them time, give them your patience. You certainly don’t want them to rush!
They Haven’t Made a Decision
Related to the above: casting is a big decision. There’s every chance the team still hasn’t decided upon which actor/s they’re casting, which means you have to wait it out as they make that final call. As with seeing people, you really don’t want them to rush this decision, so maintain faith in your acting abilities and trust that they’ll give you a fair amount of consideration.
Another factor in the casting game is that each actor cast has to fit with the larger ensemble. They may love what you’ve submitted, but need to be sure that you work well alongside the other people in the cast. This process takes time, even if you’ve had a gold star next to your name from day one.
An Error With Your Submission
This reason is high on our list because it happens more often than you might think. Sometimes you don’t hear back because you didn’t submit in the first place. Your video may have gone to the wrong email address, or been a corrupted file. Your self-tape’s privacy settings may be on, locking the team out unless they can guess your password.
This is less of a factor with an in-person audition, unless you show up at the wrong venue and read for the wrong casting (slim chance of this one, to be fair.)
If you’ve yet to hear anything, check to see if you have confirmation that your application was received. Often, if actors fail to catch their own errors, the casting team won’t bother chasing them up if a link doesn’t work. Remember that they’re reviewing potentially hundreds of submissions. Somebody who doesn’t bother to check their own material before sending it often paints themselves as not taking their work seriously.
They Are Overwhelmed
Hundreds of submissions. Infinite choices. The need to cast the right combination of actors. The juggling of schedules for auditions and casting. And that’s to say nothing of time ticking away before the project begins… You can pretty much bet that your production team is feeling overwhelmed—and that’s on a good day. If it’s a smaller or less experienced team, there’s a good chance that this will affect how quickly it takes to reply to actors about their auditions.
In situations such as these, you may or may not get a message indicating that the initial timeline has been blown all to hell. At this point: swallow your frustration and be supportive. Be the uncomplicated part of the equation—it may bump you up the list over an actor they love but starts to get shirty. Is this an apology for a disorganised or overwhelmed team? Not at all! But stress gets to us all, and graciousness is always the best response.
You Didn’t Get the Job
A.K.A. “They are rude.”
I know I led this article with a reminder that hearing nothing is different to hearing “no” … which is still, technically true. Sadly, there are a great number of people casting in our industry with little thought to telling the actors they didn’t cast about their decision. In some circles, it’s largely expected that this will be the case—especially if you’re looking at a smaller part in a bigger project or a commercial. For smaller outfits, such as independent theatre-makers or student films, it’s pretty unforgivable.
If you hear absolutely nothing at all, and find out later that a friend or colleague booked the role, my advice is to let it go. Does it hurt? Is it rude? Yes and yes. But there will always be opportunities in the future—unless you go into that casting office with guns blazing demanding answers.
“Should I follow up on my audition if I don’t hear back?”
As above: if it’s a bigger, more commercially viable role, then it’s probably something you want to send out there and forget about. If you’re signed with an agent, this is the kind of prodding they can do (or at least tell you they’ve done on your behalf.) For smaller, independent jobs, especially if you have an existing relationship with those involved? You can give ’em a litlte nudge. A polite follow-up if enough time has passed.
But just because you can follow up doesn’t necessarily mean you should. As you won’t hear back about every gig, it’s important to develop a tolerance to lack of closure—being professionally ghosted, if you will.
Asking “why haven’t I heard back about my audition?” is a fair and valid question. It’s one that every actor will ask at some point in their career. Here’s hoping this list offers you some clarity, and maybe even some peace of mind, as you sit waiting for that phone to ring.
The last piece of advice I’ll give you is actually a recap of my first: relax. Trust in your abilities, trust in your process and remind yourself that no missed opportunity diminishes who you are as an artist. Develop that resilience, be proud of that resilience, and start searching out that next gig.