Can You Fake Your Way to Success?

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If you’re an artist at the beginning of your career, chances are you’ve heard the expression, “fake it ‘til you make it” more than once. For some, this notion seems to carry a great amount of truth while others dismiss it completely. But what does it mean to fake it until you make it? And is it just a saying or can it work in the artist’s favor?

I can still remember my first acting auditions back in Portugal at the age of 9. At times, I felt so much pressure that in order to avoid succumbing to nervous energy, I’d convince myself I was unquestionably booking that job. I would focus on acting as relaxed and confident as possible at that moment as if I had years of experience. Interestingly, no one suggested this method would work, nor did I think about what I was actively doing. I just felt it was the right way to handle high-pressure situations and for the most part, it worked.

Was I in some way faking my expertise? If so, how far can we embrace this concept? Unfortunately, there’s no black-and-white answer—it really varies depending on the individual artist’s approach. What I will say, however, is that building confidence by projecting (or pretending) that you’re someone who already possesses the necessary skills can have a positive impact on how you approach challenges. I’ve often found myself uttering affirmations like, “I’ve already booked this” or, “I’ve done this for a long time, no doubt I’m the right person for the job” just before challenging auditions.

READ: The Only Way to Motivate a Successful Acting Career

That said, faking it is not a great idea when it comes to how you promote yourself. It might work for a bit at the start, but eventually, you’ll be exposed or feel out of place if you don’t have the skills required to back up who you claim to be.

Amy Cuddy said it best during her TED Talk: fake it until you become it. Use this motto to help you grow but the last thing you want is to lack the skill set when the opportunity arises. Constant work on your craft is key!

The secret is to approach your career as a true, confident professional from the beginning. Face the fame as if you’ve already made it and don’t underestimate yourself. Avoid perfectionism, but also avoid waiting too long to throw yourself into something that scares you. Eventually, there will come a time when you can only overcome certain fears by putting yourself in those situations that scare you. And if you fail, so what? More will come your way and you’ll be all the wiser and stronger for it.

Surely, a professional website, an extensive resume and a solid social media presence can be a plus but waiting for what feels like the ‘perfect time’ to try out for the opportunities you seek can get you stuck in a loop that will only lead to more waiting and procrastination.

Faking it until you make it means nothing more than to be and feel like a professional from the start in order to attract the opportunities you desire. If you constantly work on your craft, your confidence and skill set will ultimately get to a point where faking it is no longer necessary.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Carlos Neto
Carlos Neto (@carlosnetodance) is a choreographer, dance teacher, actor, and Backstage Expert.