How To Build Confidence For The Actor

Remember that scene from the 1971 version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? You know, the one between Willy Wonka and Violet Beauregarde. In case you don’t remember, it went a little something like this:

Violet: Mr. Wonka, I’m Violet Beauregarde.
Willy: Oh. I don’t care.
Violet: Well, you should care. Because I’m the girl who’s gonna win the special prize at the end.
Willy: Well you do seem confident and confidence is key.

Out of all the memorable lines from this American classic, Willy’s last line, “confidence is key” is what sticks out to me the most. Why? Because everyone knows that it’s a universal truth– especially for actors. The real question is how does one become confident? Or how can one at least appear confident?

In a 2012 TED talk, social psychologist Amy Cudder, gave a lesson on how your body language can shape who you are. “Our non verbals do govern how we think and feel about ourselves,” she says. Furthermore, practicing body postures associated with dominance such as an open chest or a wide stance can have a chemical effect on your brain. In a study she conducted, Amy found that taking these “high power” positions for as little as two minutes led to a 20% increase in testosterone levels. That extra boost might be exactly what you need in an audition room full of anxiety.

Testosterone on fleek.
In another article about building self confidence, founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, Jacqueline Whitmore, shares this very simple piece of advice: be prepared. It sounds obvious, but being prepared and having knowledge about your industry can be a key factor in separating yourself from the crowd: “Remember the five P’s: Prior planning prevents poor performance”. For the actor, this preparation involves selecting and rehearsing a monologue for an audition. But how much do you know about the playwright? Could you hold a conversation with a casting director if he or she asked you something unexpected? If the answer is “no”, that lack of preparation may be what’s holding you back.

But what about the times when the voices of doubt creep into your head telling you things like “you will fail” or “give up”? In an article written for Forbes, life coach Jaime Kulaga says to fight fire with fire: “Cut your negative thoughts immediately and replace them with words that are positive and confident. The more you repeatedly send positive messages to yourself, the more positive you will become”. It’s cliche, but there is someĀ proof that we do have the power to speak things into existence.

Nobody ever said that being confident is easy. It is however something that is attainable for everybody if you take the following steps:

Change your posture — It’s scientifically possible to trick your brain into thinking you are more confident.

Be prepared — In school you always felt confident about the tests you actually studied for. The same goes for life.

Speak it into existence — If you want to live a more confident life, speak it, and it shall come to pass.

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