A character in the movie “Broadcast News” (by James L. Brooks) has the line, “Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive?” But, it isn’t that world, and it doesn’t. We are all fine-tuned to pick up fear in others because it means there’s a possibility there’s a danger in the environment we don’t want to be around. In other words, it makes you repellent—not a quality you typically want in a performer. With acting especially, looking like you’re having a good time doing the job is part of the job.
It’s both true for when you’re taking your meeting before the audition, where you want to radiate that confident, can-do spirit, and it’s true for your approach to the acting process itself. Creativity is inhibited by tension. As an actor you participate in many fictional situations where your character is unhappy and frightened, but you should build that performance on a predisposition that where you work is a positive place. Your acting context will produce deeper, more connected work if the foundation is an emotional state that is relaxed and assured.
There’s no substitute for the poise that comes with experience (or lavishly approving parents),
but there are things you can do that will improve your internal chemistry and incline you toward a more secure frame of mind. It may seem nutty, and you may have to push through some cynicism and stagnation that is, in truth, a defensive crouch, but testing has shown that simply willing yourself to do certain behaviors results in less stress hormones (cortisol) and more happy ones (endorphins) in your bloodstream.
Feeling you’re faking these behaviors is totally fine and will nevertheless produce results that generate an internal life that then makes them seem less counterfeit…which, in turn, perpetuates the positive mood. Here’s some things you can do to give yourself a better attitude bump:
- Physicalize happiness: doing crazy/silly behaviors, dancing wildly, laughing and smiling.
- Recite positive affirmations: “I am super powerful!” “I am so beautiful!” “I love to be challenged!”
- Listen to happy or thrilling music.
- Visualize yourself in positive situations: being embraced with love, being in peaceful, soothing or exotic surroundings, doing something heroic.
- Strike physical postures of confidence: Stand with your feet spread wide and your arms outstretched and take a big, long stretch. Sit with your legs stuck far out and your hands clasped behind your head. Stand with your feet planted wide and your fists placed proudly on your hips (called “The Wonder Woman”).
So, Pro-Model & Talent Mgmt. family... Let those smiles shine! And remember, when they day starts looking a little bleak, just fake it until you make it!