How to Gain Confidence as an Actor

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Photo Source: Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

Confidence in yourself, your aptitude, and your abilities is crucial to success in the industry. But building confidence can be difficult when you don’t yet have depth of experience or laurels to rest upon. Here are some tips and techniques on exuding confidence and charisma at any stage of your career.

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What are the best confidence-building exercises?

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1. Visualize: Take a few beats to visualize yourself rocking your next audition or performance. Focus on your breathing while going through the steps that lead to your imagined performance success. Is it the way you walk into the room? Your ability to project your voice? Mastery of your lines? Consider all the elements that make you confident.

2. Plan: Confidence stems from knowing your value and what you bring to the table. Alternatively, arrogance is founded in the belief of superiority without having anything to back it up. Ensure that you gain confidence—and remain confident, but not arrogant—by turning your visualization into action: Practice that strong, confident walk. Do voice projection exercises. Rehearse your lines until you can say them forwards and backwards. The more you practice ahead of time, the more self-assured you’ll be when it counts.

3. Try techniques: Many acting techniques also provide excellent roadmaps to gain confidence as an actor. For example, the Meisner technique focuses on emotional preparation, repetition, and improvisation to help actors learn how to rely on instincts rather than feelings such as anxiety and fear. The Stanislavsky system uses “given circumstances” and “the magic if” to encourage actors to truly embody their characters. Practicing these or similar techniques can make you feel more comfortable—and thus more confident—in your craft.

4. Fake it until you make it: Even if you don’t feel truly and holistically confident yet, try acting as though you do. Plaster on a smile, make eye contact with those around you, and speak clearly. You may just find that these little actions make a big difference. 

5. Move around: Speaking of actions, one of the best confidence-building exercises is literal exercise. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can boost self-esteem, reduce stress, and improve mood

6. Get hyped: Think about what makes you feel more confident in your day-to-day life. Whether it’s jamming out to your favorite power ballad, talking to that one friend who knows just how to lift your spirits, watching your past performances, or playing fetch with your pup, try doing it before an audition or show and see what kind of boost it gives you.

Tips on how to gain confidence from acting coach Cathryn Hartt

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Drown out negative thoughts with positive ones. Every time you have a negative thought, stop it immediately, and shout something positive in your mind. For example, if you feel you’ll forget your lines, tell yourself the scene is a piece of cake. If you’re waiting for an audition in the outer office and staring at the person who always beats you out, tell yourself you will win this part today. If you keep your brain occupied with positive thoughts, there will be no room for the negative. Thinking negatively is like watering a bad seed; stop the thought as soon as you realize you’re thinking it and plant a new, positive thought in its place. Then, begin to water it by thinking it repeatedly, and positivity will become your new pattern.

Visualize a positive light flowing through you. Picture a magical light flowing through you. You can even imagine you’re a superhero. Just use the strongest visualization that makes you feel positively about yourself.

Take positive steps. Imagine that every step you take is filling you with energy. If you’re sad, every step fills you with happiness. If you’re sick, imagine every step filling you with good health. You can do this around the house or walking from your car to your audition. Flush out the negative by pumping in the positive.

Act like you are confident. As an actor, you already know that what you do with your body affects your emotions. If you’re slumping and turning your feet in, you’ll probably feel insecure. Instead, make your body work for you. When entering the room, hold your head up with shoulders back and smile with confidence. Stand or sit confidently. Do things you would do if you were confident. Smile and look people in the eyes. Have fun. When you act, trick yourself into feeling like you’re someone else—someone who is self-assured.

Voice coach Patrick Muñoz on sounding confident in auditions

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BAR—breathe, articulate, and reach out with your voice. People go into auditions and they get nervous, so they might speak too fast or start and restart their sentences. What they can do is reconnect to their body and take a moment to slow down, use their articulators to communicate, and connect to intentions and to the other person.

Make how you feel in your body a constant. The intangibles—the emotional connection, the imagery, how it feels in the room, or how you feel like you’re being perceived by the audition panel—those things can really mess with you since they’re not consistent. But the body, the breath, and the voice can be. Come to count on your bodily experience as a source of reliability and assurance.

Actor Douglas Taurel gives advice on boosting confidence for different audition types

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For a TV or film audition: Once you feel you have it in you, drill the material again for 30–45 minutes nonstop. You’ll find that you will discover more about the material and character. The more you rehearse it, the more your logical brain turns off and the more your creative brain turns on.

For a theater scene: Rehearse your scene once or twice through after you feel like quitting. Push your rehearsal endurance and you’ll develop the confidence onstage that you want.

For a monologue: Run it for 30 minutes without stopping. The repetition will give you the confidence you need to perform it under pressure.

Acting coach Marci Liroff on demonstrating confidence in auditions

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Explain—don’t apologize. If you’re in the beginning of your scene and you feel like you’re not in the zone or you’ve gone up on your lines, rather than say, “I’m so sorry! Can I please start over?! Damn, I screw up that line every time!” simply say, “I’m going to start over,” and do so. Don’t apologize, don’t kick yourself. Gracefully show us that you’re still in control by actually taking control and starting over.

Know your frame. Tell the cameraperson that you’re going to be getting up at a certain point within the scene. Ask them how wide or tight they are on you so that you know how much you can move around. Just make sure to cheat toward the camera—meaning, throw your looks and actions toward the camera so we can see your eyes and expressions. Don’t be dead still or locked into a spot on the floor, since it doesn’t make for the most interesting audition.

RELATED: What Are Eyelines, and Why Do They Matter? 

Request the eyeline. If you are standing in a scene and your reader is sitting, your eyes will be cast down and all we’ll see is the top of your eyelids. That’s not a great look, and casting directors will want to see your eyes when they look back at the audition tape. Politely ask the reader to stand along with you. Say something like, “Would you mind standing with me? It’ll help my eyeline for the camera.” This shows that you know your way around a camera and what looks good. Get comfortable with saying this so it comes out naturally and not demanding.

Ask if the reader is doing the full speech. Before the audition starts, ask if your reader will be doing the whole speech or dialogue—then you’ll know whether they are going to skip over it or not. Tell auditors that you’d appreciate it if they read the whole speech, as it would help you within the scene.

Ways to boost confidence post-audition from acting coach Constance Tillotson

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Write down your thoughts after the audition. If you are having negative thoughts, especially those that are self-directed, understand that these thoughts existed long before this audition. They have little to do with this experience; the audition was just a vehicle to bring out what you already thought about yourself.

Own your self-judgments. Then, read through your thoughts to figure out where any negative ones are coming from. Try to replace these thoughts with new positive, truthful feelings about yourself.

Ask yourself what you learned from the audition. Allow the experience to always make you better at doing what you love. Then you will start attaching excitement for auditions instead of identifying them with mistakes.

Acting coach Joseph Pearlman on how confidence leads to results

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When you’re at your Olympic best as an actor, brimming with confidence, there are only three results you should be satisfied with after an audition:

Booking the role. You got the part, kid!

Booking the room. They loved you and your performance blew their minds, but you are just not right for the role. Maybe it’s your height. Maybe you look too similar to the lead. Be assured that they will be calling you back for another part in their next big project. You will most likely win that role.

Bringing you back. This is a subset of booking the room. This means the powers that be bring you back in either for a callback, a producer’s session, a chemistry read, or to read for some other part in the same project.

These are the career-launching results that a performance lit up with confidence will deliver.

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