HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
I strongly believe there’s a primary "trigger event" feeding your insecurity as an actor. I know, I know. I used the word trigger, but go with me.
One day I realized I was nervous about getting older. I thought it would hurt my chances of booking action roles. Two of my special skills are handguns and aerobic kickboxing, both of which I'd like to utilize at some point.
I had no idea why this was suddenly bothering me. I typically don't care about the status quo or stereotypes that may be held against me for whatever reason. I recognize that those prejudices may exist, but I push through them by focusing on my goals.
Seemingly out of nowhere, I couldn't push through this insecurity. It kept creeping into my thoughts and sneakily causing me stress. I finally got tired of it and figured out how to work through it.
In this post, I’ll teach you how to:
I resisted admitting that I had this issue because having an insecurity feels like weakness to me, but we all have them, so I needed to find a way to change my thoughts.
I want to quickly mention here that I am not a psychologist or medical professional of any kind. I'm simply sharing my personal journey about dealing with a specific issue. Please do not consider this information medical advice.
1. DEFINE THE INSECURITY
I really want you to walk through this exercise even if you consider yourself a confident actor. It's better to think about this now than it sneak up on you while you're in an audition or on a shoot.
You never know when someone will say something that hits just the right nerve, and I don't want you to be an actor that has a meltdown between takes. If it's for your scene, then by all means, have the meltdown.
Sit and think about what's causing a knot in your stomach. Finish this sentence: "I get a knot in my stomach concerning my acting career when I think about _____________."
How would you finish this sentence? What would you fill-in-the-blank? Remember, no one else ever needs to know this if you don't want them to. What's the harm in being honest with yourself about it?
The harm for me was admitting that I did care about the ridiculous status quo of women "aging out" of certain roles. Now, obviously, an older woman isn't going to pass as a someone in high school. That's reasonable.
But I thrive in a challenging environment and walk right through ridiculous parameters others try to place on me. Admitting, even to myself, that I had this insecurity meant that I was actually allowing unreasonable assumptions to affect my thoughts and emotions.
Everyone has insecurities, though. The difference between an actor who is controlled by them versus an actor who isn't is whether or not they address them. So I had to admit that I was having that thought.
You may already know what's bothering you, but I want you to actually say that sentence out loud to yourself so that you can hear it. This will truly be powerful for Type A's like me that don't want to admit if something is creating a knot in their stomach because it keeps the insecurity from remaining vague, which allows us to address it directly.
Understand the difference between insecurity and insight. Insecurity will create a host of other negative, unhealthy emotions. Be on the lookout for panic, negative self-talk, doubt, and worry. If you feel hopeless about a situation, that may be an insecurity talking to you. Feeling hopeless may also be a sign that you should seek professional help to talk through your thoughts.
1. insecurity [ in-si-kyoor-i-tee ] noun : lack of confidence or assurance; self-doubt
2. insight [ in-sahyt ] noun : (in psychotherapy) the recognition of sources of emotional difficulty
Insight, however, makes you feel confident that you can create a plan of action to make a change. It's recognizing that something is out of alignment with your plans. You'll feel empowered to brainstorm solutions or eliminate obstacles.
We are specifically focusing on insecurities that create more negative emotions.
2. IDENTIFY THE TRIGGER EVENT
Now let's address why this specific issue has presented itself in your life.
Growing up I read teen magazines like Seventeen or Teen Vogue. They would typically have articles on rising or breakout actors. For whatever reason, I always remembered those actors being 24 years old.
I don't know why. I don't even know if that's true or if that's just the number that got stuck in my head, but it solidified this idea that I had to have my breakout role by the time I was 24 or it was game over.
So now ask yourself, "What moment made me start thinking this?" Was it:
What one thing is your brain telling you absolutely must be true for you to be a successful actor? When I read celebrity actors' stories, it's clear to me that there is no one way to be successful in this business. Their paths were all so different!
Now there are a few of fundamental steps actors need to take, such as getting trained and taking great headshots, but those steps are true for all actors. If you're dwelling on an issue that's in addition to those fundamental steps, then it's time to breakdown why.
3. ADDRESS THE INSECURITY DIRECTLY
You've identified your insecurity, and you've pinpointed what made you believe it in the first place. You still need to change your thoughts about it.
Start looking for actors whose careers negate that insecurity. I just mentioned that not every famous actor had the same path to success. That means you have a lot of options to pull from.
For me, that meant looking for women who are older than 24 that have booked action roles. Um, helloooo Helen Mirren in RED! And basically all of the Amazon women in the new Wonder Woman release. What about Rebecca Ferguson in Mission Impossible, Jaimie Alexander in Thor, Danai Gurira in Black Panther, Lucy Liu in Charlie's Angels, or Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow?
I'm sure your brain is thinking of a million other women that are older than 24 in kick-butt action roles right now, and that's my point! Once you start looking for stories that negate your insecurity, you'll realize how many of those stories exist.
I think there's a lot of benefit to processing this information with pen and paper and then with a trusted friend.
Process with pen and paper:
Process with a trusted friend:
"Can we chat about an issue I'm having? I'd like your insight. I'm feeling insecure about (state the insecurity). I'm not exactly sure why I feel this way. I think it's because (list potentially related events). I'm trying to think of which actors have a story that's contrary to that belief. Can you think of any?"
Find your people:
I'm gonna bet that there are other actors out in the world that have the same insecurity as you, maybe for different reasons, but maybe for the exact same reason. If you're feeling brave right now, I'd love for you to comment and share what insecurity is bugging you when it comes to your acting career. The only way for you to know that you're not alone is to start sharing your story.
Share your story on social media with the hashtag #ActorBossTruth so I can find it. I'll look for it on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or YouTube.
Now that you've worked on your thoughts, it's time to work on your actions.
Try brainstorming a list of actions you can take that would help you move away from your insecurity. For me, that means setting up a consistent exercise and meal plan, or maybe even hiring a personal trainer to achieve the look I want that complements action roles. I could also invest in more training for my special skills or look into adding a new one.
Your action list doesn't need to be extravagant or expensive. It may be that you schedule a meetup with other actor friends once per month to share your insecurities, then end with a word of encouragement from everyone.
Regardless of what you plan, I hope that you take the time to address any thoughts that may be nagging you about your acting career so that you can find freedom in your acting. Whether we realize it or not, those negative thoughts are infiltrating every scene that we do and causing us to "hide." You also may inspire another actor that really needs to hear your story.
Next time we’ll discuss the term “making it,” why it’s killing us actors, and what to do about it.
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HEY ACTOR BOSS,
I'm a screen actor and certified goals coach focused on helping other screen actors that are not yet a household name achieve their most urgent goal.