“Mustering up enough self-esteem to say, ‘I want to be an actor,’ was a big turning point.” – Julia Roberts [Parade mag. Nov 9 2008]
Many creative people report feeling incompetent, inadequate and having low self esteem or self-regard at times. But there are ways to shift those feelings.
An interview article notes that “at age 21, Eva Noblezada has accomplished what most thespians her age dream of: a Tony Award nomination! For her stunning work as Kim in this spring’s West-End-to-Broadway production of ‘Miss Saigon.’
“At age 17, having never left the country, she found herself headlining a West End hit.”
She comments about the experience:
Of course you have to learn a lot, you either go with it or sink. And I definitely had my moments!
But it toughened me up and made me feel more confident in being here now.
Just because you’re an actor doesn’t mean you’re not going to have the same insecurities as everyone else.
If anything, it’s magnified.
I didn’t have the physical fitness of a professional actor, the technical training for my voice, I didn’t know anything.
So you can only imagine what it was like for a 17-year-old girl who already has self-esteem issues to be pushed in the limelight, then told, ‘You need to change.’ ‘You need to be better.’ ‘You need to lose weight.’ All that BS.
That’s really difficult and I’m glad I did go through that because it made me be the woman I am today….
I always say, don’t compare yourself to anyone else because they will never be like you, you will never be like them, and that is the biggest blessing, your biggest strength.
[Tony Nominee Eva Noblezada On ‘Miss Saigon,’ Vocal Care, and Self-Esteem By Jack Smart, Backstage May 31, 2017.]
As one possible outcome of unhealthy self-esteem. a number of film actors report they don’t even watch their own movies.
When you can be seen in close-ups on twenty foot high theater screens, it may be especially hard not to criticize your appearance and performance.
That sort of criticism may be based on perfectionism, but also can be related to poor self-concept, or even to fraud or impostor feelings.
Kate Winslet once admitted that before going off to a movie shoot, she sometimes thinks, “I’m a fraud, and they’re going to fire me… I’m fat; I’m ugly; I look like a whore!”
[laughs] [Interview mag., Nov, 2000]
[From my article Being Creative and Self-critical.]
Reese Witherspoon once said, “I have absolute amnesia about every movie I have ever made.
“I won’t watch them because if I did I would spiral into a state of self-hate…” [wenn.com 21 Dec 2010]
In an interview on the CBS program “60 Minutes” she talked about how the entertainment business can impact self-esteem.
Charlie Rose: There’s a story that you read New Yorker magazine.
Reese Witherspoon: Yeah. Oh, lord.
Charlie Rose: And there was a list of people who were no longer box-office magic.
Reese Witherspoon: Yeah. I was one of ’em. I thought I was reading, like, a profile on another actor. Then somewhere down– at the end, it said, you know, ‘The people who are washed-up,’ and I think it included me, Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson.
And I remember just being like, “OK.” I — that just — I mean, it really hurt my feelings. Really hurt my feelings.
Charlie Rose: And your self-esteem.
Reese Witherspoon: And my self-esteem. And made me feel like I contributed nothing. And that you’re only as good as your last movie.
Which is a pretty crummy feeling for an actor. But it’s also a great motivator.
From Reese Witherspoon: Ready for a change, CBS Dec 21, 2014.
Photo from her Facebook page.
Bill Nighy has commented:
“You come to realize there is this huge disparity between what you think about yourself and your work and what other people think about you and your work, at first you either think they’re insane or that it’s a conspiracy to make you look stupid.
“Or maybe, just maybe, they’re right, and you’re sometimes quite good at what you do.”
Even someone as accomplished as Meryl Streep admits she has “varying degrees of confidence and self-loathing….
“You can have a perfectly horrible day where you doubt your talent. It could be about not feeling able to achieve a certain scene or about an emotion you feel you weren’t able to get to…
“Or that you’re boring and they’re going to find out that you don’t know what you’re doing… any one of those things.”
From my article Gifted and Talented but Insecure.
What can you do about low or unhealthy self-esteem or self-confidence?
Developing yourself as a person as well as an actor, taking classes on subjects outside of acting, getting into commercials or community theater or any performance work can help feelings of low self-esteem.
And working with a counselor can be very helpful.
“Acting is telling a story, and you’re part of telling that story. In some ways therapy helps more than acting class. You realize why you operate in certain ways.” – Heather Graham – in post Actors and therapy.
Psychologist Mihaela Ivan Holtz works with creative people in TV/Film, performing and fine arts.
She also writes about the emotional and creative pleasures of their inner life – and its challenges – on her site Creative Minds Psychotherapy.
Here is an excerpt from an article on her site:
You live your life dreaming to be a performer. Your eyes sparkle at the thought of performing, because that is the essence of who you are.
You dream of those moments when you become one with your performance, flowing smoothly and connecting with your audience.
That’s what performers do… And, you know you are a performer!
Nevertheless, the performer that you are, gets lost in those moments you have an opportunity to show who you are.
An audition lost, a show lost… another opportunity lost. With each missed opportunity, feeling confused about who you are.
You are now wondering: “Am I really a performer?” Can I do this?
Self-doubt is creeping in your mind. A part of you knows you are a performer.
A part of you doubts who you are…
Read much more in her article:
Here is an article on a form of unhealthy self-esteem that affects many talented people:
Many talented and creative people experience impostor or fraud feelings and beliefs about themselves, despite their accomplishments.
How can we change those feelings to be more confident and creative? This article has multiple quotes, books, links to other articles, and programs.
Self-Esteem Program by Caroline Myss
The program site summarizes:
What is self-esteem? A type of confidence? Or something far greater?
In fact, Myss teaches, your potential for success in life is determined by how greatly you esteem or value who you truly are.
Beginning with a look at its roots in childhood, and branching into the real world of daily experience including finances, relationships, and spirituality, Myss illustrates the incredible changes that come when we nourish this life-giving force.
Building on her revolutionary bestsellers Anatomy of the Spirit and Sacred Contracts, Myss explores:
- How your strong self-esteem threatens other people, and why you must strengthen it anyway
- How your intuition, spiritual guidance, self-healing capacity, and your self-esteem all depend on each other
- Plus special guided exercises for cultivating healthy, vibrant self-esteem, available only on this audio session, and much more
How would your life change if your self-esteem improved? Myss asks.
– an audio program by Caroline Myss.
The Self-Acceptance Summit
Caroline Myss and Elizabeth Gilbert are among many presenters.
The Summit is produced by Sounds True, and the site notes:
Best known for her New York Times bestsellers Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert is a renowned author, traveler, and fearless spiritual adventurer.
In this very special and personal conversation to kick off The Self-Acceptance Summit, Elizabeth speaks with Sounds True founder Tami Simon about the ever-deepening journey of self-acceptance, and how we are sometimes asked to go against the norms to be truly who we are.
Learn more in article: The Self-Acceptance Summit.