When To Turn Down A Role | Workshop Guru
We as actors want to work. OF COURSE! We audition to get work, and we rehearse to do good work. But there’s no doubt that at some point in your career, you will have to make the difficult decision to turn down work. I know, I know, who wouldn’t love to have the opportunity to turn down a job, right? But it’s not as uncommon as you might think. For example, think of a brand you’re not the biggest fan of, or a point-of-view you absolutely cannot agree with, or a character you truly don’t feel comfortable portraying…  if this comes up for you, what do you do? If I can offer one piece of advice, it’s this:

Get clear on your personal standards and preferences now, and have a idea of what you will and won’t do. That way, when it comes time to make a decision, you can evaluate the unique circumstances of that project and make a choice with confidence and with ease. Not only can turning down a role make you feel stronger for owning your career, but also more confident in knowing that you aren’t putting yourself in a place where you’d be uncomfortable. (Plus when you’re uncomfortable, you might not do your best work!)

Now I want to hear from you. What’s one thing that could cause you to turn down a role? Perhaps you’re a non-smoker and they want you to smoke on camera, or perhaps there’s a stereotype you really don’t want to portray? Leave a comment below (plus each comment is an entry to win an exclusive Workshop Guru tote bag!)

Stay strong!

xo,

Ajarae Coleman | Workshop Guru

 

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Ajarae Coleman is a working actress living in Los Angeles. You can see her on shows like ABC’s SCANDAL, REVENGE, PRIVATE PRACTICE, and THE CATCH, CBS’s THE McCARTHYS, 2 BROKE GIRLS, and NCIS: NEW ORLEANS, NBC’s DAYS OF OUR LIVES, TNT’s PERCEPTION, I'M SORRY on Netflix, and more. Ajarae founded Acting Resource Guru (ARG) in 2012 to give actors practical steps to book more work and take ownership of their careers. In 2020, Ajarae launched The Table, an exclusive online membership for actors who crave an artistic life that goes beyond just booking gigs. They are ready to make a greater impact, which looks like building communities of collaborators, creating their own opportunities, and developing residual income streams. Ajarae believes that actors play a huge role in bringing forth a reality where every being on the planet is safe and valued, and The Table empowers actors to claim their seat. Join the Interest List at ClaimASeat.com to be notified when the doors open for new members.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I’ll tell you what actually did happen to me and why I turned down the lead role in a film.

    1st: it sounded too good to be true—ride a horse into an encampment and save the day.

    2nd: I submitted for the role having been told it was a SAG production. After the audition and call-back and the offer, the director told me SAG was dragging it’s feet and so the producers decided to proceed along non-union lines. I told them this was a deal-breaker and this is when they asked me to work under a pseudoname.

    3rd: I contacted SAG and was told paperwork was requested from this production repeatedly and so far they hadn’t received a response.

    4th: the production offered to pay me in cash.

    5th: I declined the job.

    This production turned out to be the anti-Arab film that supposedly set in motion the Arab Spring. Actors that did participate in the film ended up receiving death threats, sued the filmakers, etc.

    Bottom-line: trust your gut!

    Sincerely –
    – Max Bogner

  2. I’ll tell you what actually did happen to me and why I turned down the lead role in a film.

    1st: it sounded too good to be true—ride a horse into an encampment and save the day.

    2nd: I submitted for the role having been told it was a SAG production. After the audition and call-back and the offer, the director told me SAG was dragging it’s feet and so the producers decided to proceed along non-union lines. I told them this was a deal-breaker and this is when they asked me to work under a pseudoname.

    3rd: I contacted SAG and was told paperwork was requested from this production repeatedly and so far they hadn’t received a response.

    4th: the production offered to pay me in cash.

    5th: I declined the job.

    This production turned out to be the anti-Arab film that supposedly set in motion the Arab Spring. Actors that did participate in the film ended up receiving death threats, sued the filmakers, etc.

    Bottom-line: trust your gut!

    Sincerely –
    – Max Bogner

  3. Hi Ajarae,
    I recently turned down a role because it was not in alignment with what I felt in my heart as well as my gut. A friend asked me, when I was in deep turmoil over this, if I was making a life choice or a career choice. I decided it was both. Even though I knew I had made the right decision – for me – it was no less a hard choice to make, voice, and stand behind. It took a few days for me to shake it off, as this was the first time I’ve been at this crossroads. But in the end, once the dust settled, I felt stronger and proud of myself for getting through it. It’s true that this circumstance will teach you more about yourself than you are actually aware of on more levels than you thought possible.

  4. Wow, SJ! This is so powerful. You’re right… sometimes the choice is hard, but we always come out of it stronger and knowing more about ourselves and what’s important.

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