Matthew Del Negro believes that we learn more about ourselves in our losses than in our victories. He is a hugely successful actor– with major roles on the Sopranos, West Wing, Scandal, and currently starring on Showtime’s City on a Hill with Kevin Bacon and Aldis Hodge. Despite his long list of impressive acting credits, Matt has discovered more about his true self by overcoming the “10,000 NOs” that he has been dealt throughout his career.
As Matt explains, there have been times in his career when from the outside looking in, everything seemed perfect. He had landed recurring roles on iconic series like the Sopranos and the West Wing. At the same time, from his perspective, it felt like things were going too slowly. Acting is a job after all. Every audition is like a job interview. Most actors have to audition constantly and rejections can pile up, taking their toll.
Matt falls back on lessons he learned from his dad who taught him early on that “failure is just opportunity in disguise.” We talk about reframing the obstacles that life throws at us, asking “what can I get out of this that will help me or help my family?” Matt reminds us that it’s really all about how we engage with the challenges, which takes WORK! And that is how Matt defines success. Are you doing what you need to be successful?
While some actors might prefer to keep up the façade of a perfect life and career, Matt chose to get real by starting his podcast, 10,000 NOs. He interviews his guests –many of whom are also successful actors, including Lorraine Bracco and Kevin Bacon– about their own experiences with rejection and the fear of not being able to find the next great role. Matt recognized that sharing these experiences and wisdom would help other young actors, and he quickly realized that the idea of turning a No into a Yes could be helpful to anyone– not just actors.
We talk about the importance of being bold enough to take a risk and believe you will succeed. And we talk about not caring what other people think of us when we decide to enter the arena.
Matt has taken lemons and made lemonade. He has walked into a room and given his all in an audition. He has thought he nailed it only to be crushed by seeing the role go to someone else. But he is grateful for those blows to the gut. This IS his silver lining. All of these rejections have led him to a place where he can extend a hand and pull another young actor up the ladder of success.
Episode Links and Resources:
10,000 Nos Podcast, Book and Insider’s Community
Order 10,000 NOs: How to Overcome Rejection on the Way to Your YES
Watch Showtime’s City on a Hill
Read Full Text of “Citizenship in a Republic” (a/k/a “Man in the Arena”) Speech by Theodore Roosevelt
Follow Matthew Del Negro on Instagram
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