Many talented people, including actors, sometimes have insecurities and impostor feelings, the feeling that they are a fraud, that they are not very talented and that they will be “found out.” But feelings like that can shift toward self-confidence.
These impostor feelings don’t just happen to inexperienced actors.
Kate Winslet has admitted that sometimes she wakes up in the morning before going to a shoot and thinks, “I can’t do this; I’m a fraud. I’m going to get fired.”
He made those comments after his Oscar nominations for Titanic and Sense and Sensibility.
Michelle Pfeiffer said she was afraid people would realize that she really isn’t very talented and that “it was all a big sham.”
Nicole Kidman admits that she often thinks, “They’re going to look at me to fire me.” And Don Cheadle said about seeing his performances in movies: “All I can see is everything I’m doing wrong, which is a sham and a fraud.”
But these ideas and feelings are just more extreme versions of the kind of doubt that can be helpful. If you feel that you are not up to the job of what you are capable of as an actor, you will probably be motivated to keep pushing yourself to improve.
Staying motivated and confident, without being swayed by unrealistic or exaggerated insecurity, may require being more aware of your emotional responses.
One way to do this is to read interviews or quotes from other actors you admire and look for comments like the ones above. Then ask yourself if you have similar feelings about your own abilities.
Speaking of Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow has said: “I think Matt places so much importance on being an artist or a good actor, and he will really punish himself to get there. You always feel like he feels like he doesn’t deserve that.”
And Damon admitted: “I never know if I’m going to make it. I have serious concerns about my own ability.”
These “serious concerns” or feelings of fraud can become so strong that they are self-limiting, preventing you from attempting roles or depths of a character that you are actually capable of achieving.
A powerful way to deal with these feelings is to use a cognitive therapy strategy of “questioning the evidence” or carefully analyzing your thoughts and ideas about whether or not they are really true.
For example, if you won a role, but are telling yourself (like previous actors) that you really don’t have the talent, ask yourself: Would a producer or director really make such an important business decision as simply on their appearance, without take into account their ability to act?
You can also ask if your colleagues say things about your work that imply that you are an imposter, or if they make any comments that show that you have talent. When it feels like a fraud, it is sometimes difficult to understand precisely what other people mean.
There can also be deeper self-esteem issues or fear of success that can help any of us feel like a fraud. Those kinds of things can be improved with counseling and by becoming more self-aware. Read about it, ask other actors if they have similar feelings.
And being objectively aware of your work, regardless of your feelings, can help. Look at what you really do in an acting class or performance, not how “flawed” or “inappropriate” you might feel about yourself.