A regular old audition has a certain amount of buzz around it, but once 3 dozen auditions have come and gone, they can be treated like one-off work shifts. Clock in, do your best, clock out, try not to read too much into the results, repeat.
A callback, however, is different.
A callback means you meet all the requirements to get the job (maybe)! You impressed the room enough for them to ask for more (a lot more, usually). The folks who pay performers are invested in you, but they're still playing it cool--no strings attached. We'll see what happens.
Callbacks are the midpoint between the audition and booking the job. They are wins in themselves (validation!) BUT with them sweeps a fresh tide of stress and self analysis.
I had a callback this week that I flew to New York for. I've dealt with callback energy enough times that I felt prepared for whatever I might be met with. But it was still a big, energetic commitment. The more research into the project you do, the more you set yourself up to be potentially heartbroken. But you have to do the research to have your best audition, so you have to be solid in your self worth and commitment to keep working no matter what happens.
The audition was over in a blip. My look and style simply didn't match the track they were looking for, and they went out of their way to say they were on the hunt for someone very specific, so not to be discouraged. I was sent on my way in less than an hour. But my callback energy was still high. After all, I'd flown there to participate. Memorized a few potential songs. Nerded out on the show media. Stretched and sung and worked on my hair and face all morning. I've been asked to be here, was my thought of appreciation. Me, specifically.
I hope I at least get to sing. And maybe learn a new combo.
Being cut, for the most part, is barely a dot on my radar. Being cut is a part of dancer/actor life, and it always will be. But being cut after celebrating and preparing all week for a callback on the opposite coast takes a few extra steps to absorb and walk away from. You can walk into a 25-story building in midtown on top of the world, and walk out, an hour later, feeling utterly insignificant; like the world could swallow you up and no one would know.
But I knew the extra steps, and I took them, with patience and quiet acceptance.
I let it be OK. I took care not to analyze. I rented a small warm-up studio down the street and filmed the combination so my agent could view my work, and so I could see it for myself, for next time. I Facetimed my partner and let him do what he does best: make me feel supported and worthy and proud of myself. I treated myself to an $8 mocha. And I immediately dove into another creative endeavor: writing. I wrote furiously for my new job at Dance Plug, then I wrote a blog about my new friend, Mike, from the flight over.
I felt better. I felt good even.
For every Hollywood or Broadway star you see at work, there are probably 2-5 people who made it to the final callbacks for their role, who worked just as hard but whose stars didn't quite align to go all the way. Maybe you'll see those other people doing other shows: like Steve Carell, who couldn't book SNL before he got cast in The US Office, or Meghan Hilty, who was cut from her first Broadway national tour after already signing her contract, and went on to star in Wicked and Smash on NBC. We take the casting of our favorite movies/shows for granted, but behind every part in a production is a whole host of people dealing with deflated callback energy.
It's a part of the life we lead! But anyone going through any career or life-related disappointment can take advantage of those extra steps to take care of their mental health and working future.