Overcoming Imposter Syndrome as an Actor: Tips to Boost Confidence

8 Minute Read
I ‘m not talented enough to land this role.” “I don’t have enough credits on my resume to be taken seriously as an actor.” “I’m not a real actor.” Sound familiar? If so, you’ve encountered imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome affects almost everyone at some point, but few know this feeling as intimately as an actor. As a counselor specializing in working with creative professionals and a former actor myself, I’ve seen the toll that imposter syndrome can have on actors. Regardless of how talented or successful you are, you may still find yourself plagued by self-doubt and the fear that you’ll never be “good enough.”

Imposter syndrome can take the joy out of performing, lower your self-confidence, and ultimately lead to burnout. This blog post will explore the concept of imposter syndrome and provide practical tips to help you overcome this pervasive feeling and boost your confidence. If you’d like to find more joy, ease, and satisfaction in your work, it can be helpful to actively address imposter syndrome and put these tips into practice.

7 Tips for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome as an Actor

1. Recognize and Acknowledge Imposter Syndrome as an Actor

The first step to overcoming imposter syndrome is to recognize it for what it is and acknowledge its presence. In my work with actors and other creatives, a lot of my clients come to me with thoughts like, “I’ll never be good enough,” or “I’ve tricked others into thinking I’m talented.” Many people even believe these thoughts are important to their success, as though negative self-talk — and, ultimately, low self-esteem — equate to better acting. The belief that these types of thoughts can lead to more discipline and drive you to work harder is common – and ultimately harmful. This belief can make it difficult to recognize the imposter syndrome as it eats away at your confidence.

What I’ve found both as an actor and as a therapist is that when you begin to release yourself from these thoughts, your confidence grows and your performance actually improves. If you find yourself having negative thoughts like this, take a moment to acknowledge them and recognize them for what they are: imposter syndrome. Notice the thought without judgment or trying to change it, and allow it to pass by without getting hooked. But I get it, this is easier said than done. Starting a regular mindfulness practice, which I recommend to all my clients, can help you develop this skill.

2. Practice Mindfulness to Help You Adopt a More Neutral Stance

Mindfulness is a skill that allows you to become aware of your thoughts while letting them pass without judgment. You might be familiar with guided meditation apps like Headspace. Another one I like is UCLA Mindful, because it offers a wide range of meditations in several different languages. However, mindfulness is something you can always access on your own, at any time. You can even try it right now: Find a comfortable position, sitting or lying down, and become aware of your breathing. Count your breaths, going up to 10 and then starting over, or simply focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale. When you notice a thought that hooks you, acknowledge the thought without judgment and gently bring your attention back to your breathing.

This is tough in an industry where you face regular rejection, but being authentically yourself holds a lot of power.

Some of my clients find it helpful to imagine passing thoughts as observing leaves floating down a stream or clouds passing by in the sky. It can take practice to develop this neutral stance, however with time, mindfulness practices can impact other areas of your life positively. You may notice yourself feeling less reactive and more balanced in your thoughts and how you approach certain situations. Establishing a regular mindfulness practice can help you develop the flexible, focused awareness that will allow you to better recognize and acknowledge imposter syndrome.

The first step to overcoming imposter syndrome is to recognize it for what it is and acknowledge its presence.

3. Embrace Your Accomplishments to Boost Your Confidence

Many of us tend to focus on the ways we feel we have failed or fallen short. This negativity bias is actually normal and served us as an evolutionary advantage. After all, individuals who focused on threats of danger were more likely to survive. The result of that negativity bias, however, is that our brain often perceives threats when we are actually safe, resulting in a focus on the negative. Actors and creative professionals have the added hurdle of regular rejection that can make it even easier to feel that way. However, by diverting attention back to your accomplishments and positive attributes, you can begin to recognize your true worth as a performer and person. When you notice negative self-talk, try instead to reflect on successful roles, positive feedback from peers and audiences, your positive personal attributes, and how far you’ve come. Some of my clients like to save screenshots on their phone of positive reviews and feedback from peers, friends, and directors so they can easily look back on them when they need a boost. By celebrating these aspects of yourself, you can develop a more balanced and realistic perspective of your talents and abilities.

4. Cultivate a Support Network

A positive support network is important for everyone, but especially for actors experiencing imposter syndrome. It can be helpful to surround yourself with like-minded individuals who understand the unique challenges you face as an actor and can provide vital encouragement and reassurance.

Seeking out mentors, colleagues, or support groups specifically tailored to actors–like this support group through the Entertainment Community Fund (formerly the Actors Fund)–can provide guidance, constructive feedback, and a safe space to express vulnerabilities. Try also to connect with people outside the profession which can help provide balance and fresh perspectives. This will also allow you to get support and engage in other hobbies and activities that you enjoy. Remember always that no matter what success you reach as an actor, you were born a person first. Part of overcoming imposter syndrome as an actor includes maintaining a well-rounded life with a wide support network can help bolster your overall well being and sense of balance.

5. Focus on Skill Development Rather than Outcomes

One effective way to combat imposter syndrome is to focus on continuous skill development as a journey, rather than a destination. As an actor, there’s plenty of opportunity to grow and refine your craft, whether attending acting workshops or classes, diving into character analysis, or honing your vocal and physical techniques. Rather than being hyperfocused on the outcomes of the workshop, audition, or implementation of a new technique, develop curiosity surrounding the learning itself. By investing in growth and professional development as a joyful and enriching pursuit in and of itself, you can bolster your confidence and remind yourself of your progress and potential. You’ll also get the chance to reconnect with what brought you to acting in the first place, whether that’s a love of storytelling, the desire to connect with others, or the excitement that comes with being in the spotlight.

The first step to overcoming imposter syndrome is to recognize it for what it is and acknowledge its presence.

6. Embrace Vulnerability and Authenticity

Imposter syndrome often stems from a fear of being exposed as inauthentic. Embracing vulnerability and authenticity can be a powerful way to silence that thought.

One effective way to combat imposter syndrome is to focus on continuous skill development as a journey, rather than a destination.

Instead of focusing on some arbitrary, unattainable goal of perfection, focus on what makes you unique as a person and a performer. An exercise I often share with clients as they try to show up more authentically is guided journaling using prompts such as:

  • If my closest friend described me, what would they say?
  • What would my fellow actors, directors, or mentors say are my strengths?
  • What would it look like to show up more authentically as myself? How would it feel?

These prompts can help you identify your uniqueness and visualize what it might be like to embrace it instead of trying to hide it. For those who have difficulty focusing on positive achievements or reviews, drawing from others’ balanced perspectives can help you make small shifts in your self-talk. I always encourage my clients to approach their career with authenticity and vulnerability by allowing their uniqueness to shine. In my experience, authenticity is more engaging and interesting than perfection, and audiences and casting directors will recognize and appreciate your vulnerability.

7. When to Seek Professional Help as an Actor with Imposter Syndrome

If imposter syndrome continues to hinder your well-being and professional growth, seeking the guidance of a therapist who specializes in working with creative professionals can be helpful. Clients often come to me feeling lost, overwhelmed, and burned out. Many of them feel as though they’ve lost touch with why they became an actor or creative in the first place, and they want to rekindle the joy and excitement they once felt. As a therapist, I provide a safe and non-judgmental space for creatives to explore their fears and insecurities, and help develop strategies for building resilience and self-confidence.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome as an Actor: Reclaim Your Confidence

Imposter syndrome can be a persistent challenge for many actors, but rest assured it doesn’t have to define your journey. I’ve not only helped people through it; I’ve lived it. Your career as an actor should be defined by your passion for acting, not limiting beliefs that hold you back. It can feel overwhelming, but you have the power to overcome imposter syndrome and become the most authentic, empowered version of yourself. By using the tips above and seeking help from a therapist, you can reclaim your confidence and thrive as a performer. I always tell my clients that building self-confidence is an ongoing process, but it’s a worthwhile journey that you can start today.

Alyssa Digges

Alyssa Digges is a former actor and a psychotherapy extern specializing in working with creative professionals.
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