There are many examples of artists who experience at least some degree of stage fright, or performance anxiety. It isn’t a matter of your level of skill or talent, and it can be related to other emotional challenges such as impostor feelings.
Cherry Jones earned a Tony nomination for her acting in a stage production of A Moon for the Misbegotten  but was “nearly paralyzed by a profound case of stage fright” according to a Time Out New York article.
She said it was from “Living up to the greatest performance I have ever seen” [Colleen Dewhurst’s, in 1973] and felt she was “wrestling with this ghost. It’s creative panic.”
Julianna Margulies said about being in the play Ten Unknowns at Lincoln Center in 2001:
“We [actors] are such a sorry lot. We’re all so insecure..
“Earlier this week, I went home after rehearsal and basically cried on my pillow, saying, What have I gotten myself into? I’m not good enough to do this play.”
She came back the next morning and reported Donald Sutherland looked at the rest of the cast and said, “I’ve been vomiting.”
video: Dealing With Anxiety: Amanda Seyfried
Like many creative people, Amanda Seyfried experiences anxiety.
She has used psychotherapy, counseling, medication (Lexapro) and drinking to deal with her feelings.
One example: she admits to getting some “liquid courage” from alcohol to appear on talk shows.
From a Glamour magazine article:
“In Vogue magazine, Amanda Seyfried “reveals that she sought therapy after getting drunk before her appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman back in 2012.
“Amanda says she decided to seek counseling after turning to alcohol to calm her nerves before the interview.
She said: “It made it fun for me, but then I watched it and was like, ‘That is not what I want to promote about myself’.
“Amanda – who openly admits she suffers from anxiety – was on the show to promote her movie Les Miserables but confessed she was “pretty drunk” after drinking shots of whiskey.
“The 29-year-old star…claims the incident made her realise she needed to address her issues in a more productive way.
“I have a lot of anxiety that I’ve been struggling with my whole life. So I have been working through it. I’m terrified, but this is exactly what I wanted.”
“Amanda is currently starring in a play titled The Way We Get By and admits that while her therapy sessions have helped with her stage fright, she still feels self-conscious.”
From “Amanda Seyfried had therapy after being drunk on TV” By Leanne Bayley, Glamour, 19 May 2015.
Video clip from the David Letterman show is from the article: “Amanda Seyfried reveals she sought counselling for anxiety after THAT ‘drunk’ interview with David Letterman” By Kayla Caldwell for MailOnline 18 May 2015.
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Some related articles:
Actor and coach Wendy Braun [wendybraun.com], in her article “How To Stay Up During Down Times” [backstage.com Mar30-Ap5 2006] talks about the “roller coaster of emotions” that actors experience, and asks:
“Where have you been giving your attention?…
“Remember that what you focus on expands. Comparing yourself to other actors’ success can put you in a state of panic and lacking.”
[Photo from twitter.com/Wendy_Braun]
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Those feelings and ways of thinking can fuel stage fright and other kinds of anxiety about our abilities and ourselves.
Strategies to help overcome the anxiety
In her article Breathing Out Stage Fright, Linda Dessau of Genuine Coaching Services notes that stage fright “comes in many different forms. For some, it’s a nervous energy that disappears as soon as they begin performing, or a familiar sensation that’s always under the surface but feels manageable most of the time.
“For others, it’s so debilitating that they can’t get through an audition to even be part of a performance.”
In another article, Preparing For Performance, she suggests shifting the way you think about being on stage:
“Imagine the performance as a way for you to wrap up your most precious gift – the expression of your creativity – and deliver it from your heart to the heart of each and every person who’s there to receive it… now the performance IS NOT ABOUT YOU. It’s about your gift and doing your best to deliver it… and creating an experience that other people can take away and cherish.”
[The image above is from the book Stage Fright: 40 Stars Tell You How They Beat America’s #1 Fear by Mick Berry, Michael Edelstein PhD.]
Stage Fright and Fear of Public Speaking – Laurence Olivier, “The man often considered the greatest actor of the 20th century didn’t face the dreaded affliction until late middle age, but then it hit him hard. In one run at London’s National Theatre, Olivier had to have the stage manager push him onstage every night.”
Emma Roberts is uncomfortable performing in public. “And doing a music video is so embarrassing. I don’t think I’ll be doing [another] album unless I write it for someone else. I have stage fright. I can’t ever do theater because I would pee my pants,” she says, laughing.
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Get Help For Your Stage Fright – Even if you are an experienced actor or other performer, you may still experience stage fright or insecurity. But there are effective ways to deal with anxiety so you can work with more power and creative satisfaction.
The list of talented performers who have experienced stage fright includes Kim Basinger; Barbra Streisand; Alanis Morisette; Aretha Franklin; Nicolas Cage; Naomi Judd; Carly Simon, and Edie Falco, among many others.
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Many people who present or perform may experience the anxiety of stage fright or public speaking fear. Even very talented and accomplished actors, musicians and other performers can experience various kinds of stage fright or anxiety.
“It’s a misconception that just because you’re a good actor that you could be a good singer…Most of them are terrified to death to all of a sudden sing.” – Vocal coach Roger Love, who worked with Keira Knightley for her singing role in the movie “Begin Again.” Also see more quotes by actors, voice coach Jennifer Hamady and others, plus videos etc.
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Related post: Anxiety and acting