Embracing fear and discomfort as an actor

Julia Stiles, The Bourne Supremacy 2004

Out of the comfort zone

Many people – maybe most of us – want to avoid anxiety, fear and other “stressful” feelings. Except for the occasional roller coaster ride or horror movie, if you enjoy those.

But talented actors (and other artists) often use those kinds of feelings to guide and energize their work.

Julia Stiles says she chooses projects based on “ways I need to be stretched as an actor. I wouldn’t want to keep doing the same thing over and over again, which is one reason I wanted to do this play [Fran’s Bed].

“I wanted go back onstage in a way that’s different from anything I’ve ever experienced before. That’s the way I look at movies, too. I think you can get into a comfort zone as an actor and I try to break out of that.” [broadway.com interview]

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Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday

Audra McDonald commented in an interview:

“The most important thing for me as an actress is to be fearless and to challenge myself.

“Acting in TV and film forces me outside of my comfort zone.”

[The Christian Science Monitor November 22, 2002.]

[Photo from facebook.com/AudraMcDonald]

Fear can be energizing

Sandra Bullock has said, “I don’t do anything anymore that feels safe.

“If it doesn’t scare the crap out of you, then you’re not doing the right thing.”

[Photo from ‘Gravity’ – from post: Living and Creating: Fear Is Not A Disease.]

Choreographer Twyla Tharp thinks “terror, loathsome as it is, is very energizing.

“To channel that, to call it excitement, enthusiasm, curiosity, maybe that’s not a bad thing.”

When fear is disabling

Sometimes, of course, fear or anxiety such as stage fright can be disrupting or disabling if it gets too extreme. It may be a matter of perspective, of how you label and think about your inner experiences.

But creativity coach Eric Maisel, PhD notes in his article “The way that we say things…” that we have “our little linguistic tricks” that can hide anxiety that we really would be better off dealing with – “tricks” like saying, “I can’t see the point in auditioning for that – I’m just not the type.”

Related book: The Performance Anxiety Workbook – by Eric Maisel

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Performance Anxiety Course by Luciane Cardassi

Practical Steps to Overcoming Performance Anxiety “is a focused, effective, online course for any performer who wants to be more confident on stage.”


Emotional Health Resources pageEmotional Health Resources
Meditation programs, biofeedback devices, stress relief products
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YouTube / Mental Health – Emotional Health videos
Facebook / Emotional Health and Creativity videos
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Anxiety Relief Solutions site



Article publié pour la première fois le 31/03/2015