Confidence For Actors
The Elusive Ingredient
What Is Confidence?
Confidence is trust in your work. Confidence is not an impression you try to manufacture or project to someone who is in a position to hire you. It is simply trust in your work.
I’ve been a professional actor since 1975. Throughout the years, I have seen lack of confidence ruin careers of otherwise capable actors more times than I would care to remember. These actors had great talent. What happened?
They would meet an agent or a casting director for a reading, and suddenly all the years of training went out the window.
For whatever reason (usually personal, having something to do with problems of self-esteem created during childhood) the actor would not have simple trust in the work. The concentration needed would be split by thoughts like, “I know this person is judging me”, or “Maybe I’m not really that good”, or “I wonder if this person likes me”, or “I have to get this part! I just HAVE TO GET THIS PART!”
Let me clarify a few things for you:
🙂 NEWSFLASH: You don’t have to get the part! There will be other parts for you if you don’t give up.
🙂 It doesn’t matter one tiny bit if the casting director, agent, producer or director likes you. They are not there to like you. They are there to see you create a character for their story, and that’s it.
🙂 If you are concentrated 100% on doing your work, you won’t be able to lack confidence. It will be impossible.
🙂 The reason the actor has such difficulty concentrating on his work is the universal problem of the actor. The actor is both the artist and the canvas, the instrument and the musician, the doctor and the patient, the lawyer and the client. The actor cannot step outside himself and evaluate if what he is doing is good. He cannot step back from his painting and say, “No, that red there is wrong. I must change it to blue.” He usually has only one chance to create an impression, and that fact alone puts a lot of pressure on him. FORGET IT! Do the best you can. Concentrate, concentrate, concentrate on your work, and even if you don’t get the part, you will be remembered.
Let me share a personal
story with you
I had auditioned for a small part in a big movie. All you ever get in St. Louis is the chance for small parts. I made the callback, and auditioned again for the same part. I concentrated in exactly the same way that I did on the first audition.
Then I was called back for a third audition for the same small part. I saw other actors there who also had been called back twice for the same part I was reading for. They were very nervous. They really wanted that small part in the worst way. Each of them would have shined the director’s shoes for the remainder of his lifetime to get this part.
I approached a table on which the scripts were located for the various parts, and looked for mine, just to make sure nothing had changed since the last audition. Mine wasn’t there.
A casting assistant asked, “May I help you?” I explained that I couldn’t find the sides for my part. She asked which part I was reading for. When I told her, she said, “Oh, that part’s been cast, you can read for this part.”
I looked at the script, and decided I didn’t want to read for that part. The casting assistant said, “Oh, well. Sorry.” So I started to leave the hotel with my wife, who was very nervous about my decision, saying things like, “We can use the money!”, and “A part’s a part!” I told her it was the principal of the thing. So as we left the elevator, and were passing through the lobby, I said to my wife, “Let’s sit here and have a smoke, and watch what happens.”
Before we were halfway through the cigarette, the elevator door opened and the assistant casting director and two others came flying out of the elevator with panic in their eyes. Then she spotted me sitting there with my little cigarette.
“Oh, Mr. Governick, am I glad I found you! I’m so sorry. You were right. You are reading for the same part. They sent me to find you. If I hadn’t found you, I’d be in big trouble. Can you come back up and read now?” I told her I’d be up in a minute, and let her go back up alone.
When I went back up there, all the other actors were looking at me like I was some kind of troublemaker. But I went into the reading room, met the director, and during the course of some small talk, slipped in my lines. When the director realized that I had done my reading while we were having conversation, he laughed, and thanked me.
I got the part. And the money.
I tell you this story to try to make it clear to you once and for all. Have faith in yourself. Don’t shortchange yourself. Have dignity and integrity. Stand up for what you believe. You are an actor, not a welcome mat. If you have confidence in your work, Hollywood will chase you down the hall to get you in their movie.
Now go do it children of art!