Exclusive: Mandy Moore Gets Real About Career Rejection—and How to Bounce Back

Sophie Miura

Pictures of the effervescent, warm, and seriously likable Mandy Moore tend to portray a side of the ’90s pop icon we’re familiar with, but as the star reveals to MyDomaine Australia, the last decade of her career hasn’t always been picture-perfect. Best known for nostalgic chart and box office hits like “Candy” and A Walk to Remember, Moore took a temporary hiatus from the limelight, then struggled to find her footing when she decided to return.

“I tried once, twice, three times,” she candidly tells us of the three unsuccessful TV series she pursued before NBC picked up her wildly popular new drama, This Is Us, this season. “That first [rejection] was debilitating. I was crushed. Each subsequent rejection was a little bit easier to swallow, but before this show came along, I was like, Maybe I’m done. Maybe acting isn’t for me.” Thankfully, her fourth attempt was a success.

Looking back on that period of challenges and uncertainty, she says one piece of career advice helped pull her through. “Having patience, trusting your gut, and not compromising” are key, she says of navigating a career reboot. “I always listened to that voice inside of me, and for some reason, I attribute this to my dad. If something sort of triggers inside of me and there’s a catch, I usually take a hard pass.”

“I always listened to that voice inside of me. … If there’s a catch, I usually take a hard pass.”

Mandy Moore

Despite the twists in her career, Moore says one of the most rewarding decisions was taking a step back—a choice that led to immense personal growth.

“I think now there’s a general awareness of what I really want out of my job, how it fulfils me, the quality of work that I’m doing, the people I’m surrounded with,” she says. “The opportunity I [was] afforded by giving myself a break [and] taking a breather … I was really able to focus on what’s most important.

Just as we sense Moore has hit her stride again, she reminds us about her tendency toward reinvention. “I don’t believe people have one true calling, necessarily. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that I don’t want to pigeonhole myself by whatever my perceived career is,” she says. “There’s a lot more that I want to do. There are a lot more facets and colours to who I am. I think I’m still kind of discovering that, but I don’t know if I’m always going to be an actor.”

Just like that, we realise that while this star might have risen to the fore as a ’90s icon, there’s a whole lot more to Mandy Moore than those saccharine pictures portray. She’s a woman who knows herself, trusts her gut instinct, and isn’t afraid to throw herself into new opportunities without fear. When she decides it’s time for the next phase, we’ll be watching.

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