Jenna Fischer Says This Phrase From a Casting Agent Made Her ‘Office’-Ready

Actress Jenna Fischer may be a successful actress now, confident in knowing she will never go hungry living off of the residuals from the constantly-in-reruns The Office. But at one time, her life wasn’t so cushy.

Jenna Fischer
Jenna Fischer | Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

In fact, as hard as it is to believe now, Fischer had to live with her fair share of rejection as a young actress. There is one phrase in particular that Fischer says played a large role in leading her down the path to her most important role to date.

Find out what that was, plus her advice for aspiring performers.

Learning to love rejection

As an actress, Fischer had to, as so many other artists, get acquainted and comfortable with the experience of hearing the word “no” over and over. Fischer’s story isn’t unique: she left her hometown in Missouri to make it big as an actress, doing temp work to pay the rent. She even wrote The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide in 2017 to help new actors through the painful initial experience of rejection.

“I had been knocking around Los Angeles for years going to various auditions,” Fischer told The Jeff Probst Show. “I would do eight auditions for a new television show and then at the very end they would offer the role to Alyson Hannigan [of How I Met Your Mother]. She was my biggest competition. I would get to the final audition and I’d go, ‘I know I’ve got this one.’ And then she’d walk in the door and I’d go, ‘Nope.'”

Fischer’s practical advice to new actors

Fischer’s book is a true gift to anyone yearning for fame as an actor. She unflinchingly shows that the path to fame can be long and arduous. The 45-year-old told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017 what that experience was like and offered advice she wished someone had told her before she had gotten started.

“Financial stress can really add to the feelings of depression and anxiety when you are a struggling actor or really as you are a struggling anything,” the actress shared candidly. “The path to financial security as an actor is a very, very long one and a very unpredictable one.”

“My first piece of advice: try to start your acting career debt-free or with very little debt. Then, don’t spend your paycheck. Save as much as you can. . . I had to decide between a low-paying acting job to further my career or a better-paying temp job to pay off my credit card debt or get new headshots that I really needed. It was definitely, definitely stressful.”  

The words that prepped Fischer for ‘The Office’

The woman who put Pam Beesly on the map says that as rough as it was constantly experiencing rejection, there were a few choice words that, in a sense, set her destiny. Words about which Pam might have said, “What does that even mean??”

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Walking into Monday like…

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She shared with Entertainment Weekly that she was told by a casting agent after auditioning for the lead role in Alias, that she gave a great audition, but she was “just not hot enough.”

As much as that had to hurt and as much as she must have wondered if she would ever get steady and good work, looking back, Fischer knows that it was because she wasn’t “hot enough” that she was able to snag probably the biggest role of her life.

Read more: ‘The Office’: Jenna Fischer Says This Makes Her Age More Than Anything