Do you act with confidence or just insecurity?
We’ve been looking at the work of Anthony Meindl this month. Anthony refers to his method as the “nonmethod” way to act, highlighting that he does not use substitutions, sense memories, repetition, etc. It got me thinking about how important all these acting methods are and if sheer confidence is the solution we’ve all been looking for.
It is important to clarify that I am not referring to the confidence-boosting images we see on Instagram. I refer to the confidence to take chances, follow our instincts and not base my self-worth on others’ opinions.
Every month, I have the chance to work with hundreds of actors. I’ve found that working on acting and building confidence in one’s ability naturally solves many issues actors face. Fear is the main reason we are unable to act.
Acting training was once apprenticeship-based. The Spearbearer 2 was the first role, and then they would progress to Hamlet. They would work long hours. While they learned techniques and tricks along the way, the most important training was on the stage. Reflecting on my drama school experience, I realize that although I learned many things in class, the 8-10 plays I performed over three years allowed me to grow as an actor.
What can you do if you need the confidence to overcome most acting challenges?
#1 Stand first in class
My best friend from drama school, Travis, would always be the first to get up in class. Because he was afraid, he did it. The only way to stop fear was to get up first. He was a natural actor and jumped up every time he saw the opportunity. This same mindset can be applied to any aspect of your acting career.
#2 Take chances.
Take chances, especially in acting classes. Play with your accent, try out a new character, and create a play no one has ever heard of. You will make mistakes. But, confidence can only be developed by moving beyond that safe zone. There are things we all excel at as actors. But if you stay in that space, you won’t progress as an artist.
#3 Develop your confidence.
Anthony Meindl was mentioned at the beginning of this article. Anthony is a strong advocate for self-improvement. If you are struggling with confidence, it is worth taking a class outside of acting classes. Speak up at parties, greet new people, talk to your friends, read your play with them, and make a short film. Anything that helps you overcome your fears.
#4 Let go of your expectations.
Most of us fear being liked or not being bad. This desire to be liked leads to safer choices. This mentality can be eroded if you do your best. Take risks, make mistakes and view every experience as a learning opportunity. This is especially important in a classroom environment. This is the place to succeed gloriously! I have learned a trick that helped me not be so judgmental of other actors. Your judgment of other actors is how you perceive yourself being judged. You will feel less judged when other actors are performing well. If you are too critical of others, you will likely be hypercritical of yourself. This mental shift is simple but profound.
#5 Work hard.
Many actors I know are total introverts, but they can be huge when they step on the stage. They are confident, creative and captivating. Amazingly, someone who cannot even have a conversation at parties can perform confidently in front of thousands of people. They are comfortable performing in this arena. They’ve put in the work and are confident in this particular environment. Actors are very familiar with this. Do not be nervous about being on camera or shaking when you step on stage. You will feel more at home when you become familiar with the environment.
It’s there. You can’t rely solely on your confidence, but it has been a major factor for me. Fears have kept me from playing the safe game and held me back. Safe is not enough in this game. Because you will feel more relaxed, confident, and comfortable in your work, I strongly advocate that you develop and refine your process and technique.