Advice for Actors: Keys to Confidence

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I meet a lot of actors. I would estimate about a thousand or so a year, maybe more. The actors who have confidence without being cocky are the ones who ALWAYS make the best impressions. Those who are timid and lacking in confidence often don’t make an impression at all.

Here are the keys to finding your confidence as an actor (and these tools work in life too).

1. Accept Compliments

There are few things more irritating than a person who doesn’t take your compliment. Maybe I’ve just seen you in a show, afterward I tell you that I thought you did a great job. You respond, “I felt really off tonight” or “Last night was better” or “I totally skipped a whole page of dialogue.” Now, you have dismissed my compliment and told me that I must be blind and crazy to think that was a good performance. You just made me feel like crap for giving you a compliment. Thanks, jerk. Next time, just say “thank you,” even if you thought your performance was terrible. That person saw something in you that you didn’t see or feel, maybe you’re a good actor after all.

2. Stop Caring So Much

God I hope I get it! I hope I get it! Yes, everyone has those lines from A Chorus Line running through her head at a big audition. It’s important to keep these nerves in your head and not actually say them out loud. No one likes desperation, and there are few things less attractive than a desperate actor. Sure, there’s a lot at stake, but just try to relax. Remember that the whole world does not depend on whether you get this role. Show that you care but not that your life depends on it (because it doesn’t). It’s important to have perspective and realize there are so many things more important than this particular job. Desperation is not sexy.

3. Ask for What You Want

I meet lots of actors (as previously stated) and some I have gotten to know a bit over the years. Often times, an actor will meet me in a casual setting and then wait months or even years to ask me, “Is it okay if I send you my headshot?” Really? Just get to the point already. If you are interested in being considered for a project, don’t wait to be asked just reach out to the casting director (via email or snail mail whichever he/ she prefers because nobody prefers phone calls) and ask for an audition. Don’t wait for an invitation to the dance, get out there and cast yourself.

4. Be Comfortable with Your Type

So many actors tell me, “I don’t have a type.” If your name is Gary Oldman or Daniel Day-Lewis, this may be true. If your name is anything else, you’re just resistant to the type you’ve been assigned. Look at the roles you’ve been cast in. Have you played heroes or villains? Leads or character roles? Moms or prostitutes? If you legitimately have played many different types of roles, you might need to type yourself. Find the types of roles where you really shine or focus on the type you played in the roles in your reel. Accept it or change it, but don’t pretend like you’re so versatile that you don’t have a type. Actors love to be versatile but from my perspective that just makes you harder to cast because I don’t know where to put you and I don’t have the time to keep looking at your materials to figure out how to cast you. Help me help you!

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