I recently saw an actor performing comedy in such a screamingly brilliant way that I was moved to tears. I was so impressed with this actor’s work that I approached him after and gave him a hug, telling him that he nailed it, that he had really found his voice. I’ve noticed a huge leap in his craft in the year I’ve been aware of him. First time he auditioned for me, he wasn’t great. Really, he was “only okay.” That’s, in fact, what I wrote on his resumé: “only okay.”

How, I asked my husband later, is it possible for an actor to go from “only okay” to driving me to howling, crying laughter in just under a year? “That’s easy,” Keith answered, “confidence.”

Huh? No way. Confidence is not the reason for that much improvement. He has to be taking a master class. He has to be working like crazy. He has to be tapping into something really special. There’s a secret something he’s getting into somewhere. I have to figure this out.

“Bon, it’s no secret. It’s confidence,” Keith insisted. “He knows you’re a fan now. He knows he can’t fail for you. He knows you like his work, so he’s showing you his best stuff. No risk. It’s confidence.”

Damn. He’s totally right. It’s so simple, yet such an important and often illusive component to success in acting. Confidence. Believing you’re good. Believing people want you to be good. Believing you’re coming together to share a good experience. All of these things make you a better actor somehow. An exponentially better actor, actually. It’s bizarre, but totally true. The difference between a good actor and a great actor is a level of confidence. Trusting you’re not going to fail. Knowing somehow that if you were to fail, it wouldn’t matter one bit.

Okay, great. So you’re a good actor and all you need to be a great actor is confidence. How do you go get some of that? Yeah. Excellent question. Some would say you “act as if” and “fake it ’til you make it” and all that stuff. Some suggest that you picture the audience naked so that you’re not nervous about them sitting in judgment of you. I say that confidence is a muscle and it requires a regular workout. It takes surrounding yourself with opportunities to use your confidence and with people who help you embrace your confidence. It also takes discipline and time.

Under-confident? Find a place in your life where you aren’t. Maybe you’re confident that you’re a good athlete. Great. Start there. Use the confidence you feel on the basketball court and bring it to the stage. You’re an excellent cook and you know it? Awesome. Bring the confidence from the kitchen to the audition room. I’m totally serious, here. Find an area in your life in which you feel completely confident and apply that feeling to your acting, every opportunity you have.

Once you convince others that you are both talented and consistent in your performances (something that confidence does wonders for, let me tell you), you’ll start gaining confidence in those situations and rely less and less on the “borrowed confidence” from other parts of your life. Once casting directors become fans of your work, you’ll be confident every time you walk into their offices, because you know what to expect (and so do they) and you’ll be confident that you can at least provide them with the experience they’re anticipating. And there’s very low risk for you, that way. You don’t have to blow us away every single time. You just have to be talented and consistent. That’ll keep you in front of us.

Adding confidence to the mix is what makes the difference between doing good work and doing great work, much of the time.

And because it really is that simple, that’s gonna be the end of this short column this week. 😉 I’m confident you’ll get something out of it! (Feel free to tell me WHAT, in the comments below. 😉 Thanks!)


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!


Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000884.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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