Many talented people, including actors, sometimes have insecurities and impostor feelings, a sense that they are a fraud, not really talented and will be “found out.” But feelings like those can be shifted toward self confidence.
These impostor feelings don’t happen just to inexperienced actors.
Kate Winslet has admitted she sometimes wakes up in the morning before going to a shoot and thinks, “I can’t do this; I’m a fraud. They’re going to fire me.”
She made those comments after her Academy Award nominations for Titanic and Sense and Sensibility.
Michelle Pfeiffer said she feared people would find out that she’s really not very talented and that “It’s all been a big sham.”
Nicole Kidman admits she often thinks, “They’re going to look at me to fire me.” And Don Cheadle said about watching his performances in movies, “All I can see is everything I’m doing wrong that is a sham and a fraud.”
But these ideas and feelings are just more extreme versions of the kind of self-doubt which can be helpful. If you think you are falling short of what you are capable of doing as an actor, you will probably be motivated to keep striving to improve.
Keeping yourself motivated and confident, without being dragged down by unrealistic or overblown insecurity, may take being more aware of your emotional responses.
One way to do that is to read interviews or quotes by other actors you admire, and look for comments like the ones above. Then, ask yourself if you have similar feelings about your own abilities.
Speaking of Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow has said, “I think Matt places so much importance on being an artist or a good actor, and he’ll really beat himself up to get there. You always feel like he’s feeling he doesn’t deserve it.”
And Damon admitted, “I just never know if I’m going to pull it off. I have terrible, grave concerns about my own ability.”
These “grave concerns” or fraud feelings can become so strong they are self-limiting, keeping you from trying for roles or depths of a character that you might really be capable of achieving.
A powerful way to deal with these feelings is to use a cognitive therapy strategy of “questioning the evidence” or carefully analyzing your thinking and ideas about whether they are really true or not.
For example, if you have won a role, but are saying to yourself (like the actors above) that you really don’t have the talent, ask yourself, Would a producer or director really make such an important business decision such as casting based merely on your looks, with no consideration of your acting ability?
You can also ask if your peers say things about your work that imply you are a fake, or do they make some comments that show you do have talent? When you feel like a fraud, it is sometimes hard to understand accurately what other people mean.
There may also be deeper issues of self-esteem or fear of success that can help make any of us feel like a fraud. That kind of stuff can be improved with counseling, and with gaining greater self-awareness. Read about it, ask other actors if they have similar feelings.
And being aware of your work objectively, beyond your feelings, can help. Look at what you really do in an acting class or a performance, not how “imperfect” or “inadequate” you may feel about yourself.