Turn Your Acting Anxiety Into Confidence

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Photo Source: Tiziano Lugli

The following Career Dispatch essay was written by actor Ruby Modine, whose credits include “Shameless” and “Happy Death Day 2U.”

Actors have to walk and speak with confidence. When looking back on my earlier projects, I can see that a piece of me was not always fully present in the scene because I was lacking confidence. There was a thin layer of anxiety, and I didn’t yet have the wherewithal to use that anxiety to my benefit. So be bold, and have commitment to the craft.

The commencement of all these traits is to know yourself as well as possible. How can that be done? Through study; through practice; through using your art as much as possible; through reading about the history of the craft and researching historical figures like Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner, Uta Hagen, and other artists that you most admire. As I continue to study and practice what I am learning, my anxiety has slowly dissolved, and am I finding my “presence.”

Acting isn’t the type of work that allows you to one day declare the search is over. This search is a lifetime endeavor. We have to expose ourselves and not be afraid of opening our hearts to the audience. With that vulnerability, they can hopefully relate to what we are creating.

READ: How to Gain More Confidence as an Actor

Sometimes, that audience is a few people in the audition room. And auditions suck! But they are a necessary evil and another step towards where you want to be in your career. You enter a room, voluntarily, where you are to be critiqued, judged, molded, and directed toward creating and giving life to a character. They can be so nerve-racking because you want to book the role, and sometimes, after so many rejections, there is a feeling of defeat. Do not allow yourself to go there! Through that frustration, learn and listen. Listening is one of the key ingredients to becoming a stronger actor. Do not hold onto the nos, but understand and grow from them. Keep working and do not give up, even on the days when it feels like everything is falling apart. Be thankful for every audition room you step into because having the chance to audition is an opportunity to stretch and accumulate more knowledge. Take deep breaths, remember that each no is one step closer to a yes, and have courage and faith in your abilities and the choices you make.

 And as I said in the beginning, walk and speak with confidence as much as you possibly can. With said confidence, there will be an understanding and fluidity to your character and the world that she exists in. Also, if you discover that exposing yourself, memorizing lines, and doing all the things mentioned above isn’t your calling, know that you can still be a part of the arts. There are other avenues equally as satisfying. You don’t have to give up on fulfilling the art that lives inside you. Just think about how long the end credits are at the end of each film or TV production you see: Everyone that is part of the crew contributes to the art you just experienced. All those names are artists, too.

No matter what project you work on next, each one will be a learning experience. You learn so much about yourself as a human being, actor, and artist. It’s always exciting to leave a set feeling that you are walking away with more knowledge than with what you started. With that comes strength, clarity, and confidence.

Ready to be confident onscreen? Check out Backstage’s film audition listings!