Acting Advice

Ask Me!: Doubt and self-consciousness?

QUESTION FROM: Carly
How do you get over being self-conscious and self-doubt in acting for example you participated in plays then left that community for a long while and would like to  come back. How do you steel brace yourself to perform in front of others?

Hey Carly,

Thanks for your question.

I’d say self-doubt and self-consciousness are absolutely normal – especially for a young or beginner actor. There are some people who absolutely adore the spotlight and the more eyes staring at them the better, but then there are people like you and I who are not so comfortable. My advice to you, as to others who ask this question, is to focus on your craft. It’s about practice – doing something so much that your skill and confidence take over. If you are putting all your attention on technique then there will be very little room for you to worry about what people think of you or if you are doing a good job or not.

It’s not a quick fix, I’m afraid. So you will need to be patient with yourself. Actually, I’ve found that simply accepting where I am – by saying in my head “Yep. I am nervous right now. And that’s ok. It’s quite normal” – in those especially tense moments to be quite defusing. Sometimes it even makes way for the real underlying emotion – excitement. A MUCH better feeling!

I do also know that sometimes the minutes before you step on stage can be the most stressful. I have found that putting my attention elsewhere can help. Focus on something fun and relaxing: Do stretches, yoga, and/or vocal exercises. You can consider something new about your character – as a way to flesh them out even more. You can chat with your castmates. Some people like to listen to music. Do whatever you can to take the pressure and attention off the future.

As an aside I can tell you from experience that no matter what you’re concerned you will do wrong, you will not die! Even if you mess up royally and say the wrong thing, or forget a cue, or have a wardrobe malfunction, you will survive it. I promise. And, eventually, with practice, you will get so good at it you will forget that you were ever afraid.

You have to remember why you are acting – because you love it.  Put your attention back on that and let the impostor in your head – telling you that you will fail, that you are not good enough, etc., – let it quieten down. In time it will be silenced all together.

Have a question about acting? Ask Me!

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About The NYC Actor

Angela Dee is a professional actress working in Film, Theatre, TV, Commercials and Voiceovers. She currently lives in New York. www.angeladee.com

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