23 Dec 2016

12 ways to build your confidence

We’ve all heard that ‘confidence is key’, but that line is little help when we are faced with rejection or begin to feel like imposters in our relative creative field.  


Instead of allowing the confidence gap to get the best of you, Artshub's Brooke Boland asked emerging actor, director and producer Nicola James, and Course Director (Acting) Glen Hamilton at the Academy of Film, Theatre and Television how people can build a thicker skin and deal with any lingering self-doubt.

1. Recognise confidence is a skill

Putting yourself out there is daunting for most people, but that doesn’t mean confidence isn’t a skill you can’t pick up. 

As Hamilton said of the dramatic arts, ‘Performing is a risk – you risk getting it wrong, embarrassing yourself, being judged, being ridiculed. Confidence is something you learn. Anyone can learn to be confident as performers.’

2. Surround yourself with like-minded people

While your first reaction may be to retreat when suffering from a crisis of confidence, James said the best cure is to be around other artists. ‘Stay engaged, catch up with your artist friends for coffee or drinks,’ said James.

‘My classmates and tutors have become my collaborators out here in the ‘real world.’ That fuels me, to know that I have formed bonds with fantastic talented people.’

3. Identify the feeling

‘Acknowledge the doubt - don’t try to stifle it,’ said Hamilton. Once you do, it is easier to understand why it is occurring and find a way to resolve the insecurity it usually stems from.

4. Get inspired

When your confidence takes a knock it is important to remember why you started working in your respective field in the first place. ‘Go out and see shows, movies, read as much as you can and talk about all this with other artists. This is where great ideas grow from’, said James.



Getting into the swing of things here at #AFTTSydney regram @bethanygdance

A photo posted by Academy of Film, Theatre & TV (@academyfilmtheatretelevision) on

5. Become more centred

In AFTT’s Course Acting for Stage and Screen, students are taught techniques such as the Eric Morris “Logi” or “primal moans” to help them overcome any blocks, explained Hamilton. If you don’t know these techniques, other physical exercises and meditative practices such as yoga can also help you centre your body, clear your mind, and take control of your emotions.

6. Lose control

It might sound counter-intuitive, but losing control and loosening up will help you become more confident. 

‘Nothing great is ever achieved by control. The best work always happens when the actor is free, confident and in the moment of the play, film or scene. We often refer to the idea that the work travels through the actor – they are the vessel, rather than the source. This makes it easier for the actor to surrender to their instincts and impulses,’ said Hamilton.

7. Let the need to create fuel you

‘It is common for artists to struggle with confidence, but what great artists have is a need to create,’ said James.

‘Let this need fuel you rather than striving to be confident. This industry is full of ways to be knocked back and be knocked down. But by feeding yourself with this need to create you can stay connected to why it is you have chosen this crazy career. If you lose touch with this need, and believe me it happens, it can be extremely difficult to deal with the knock-backs.’

8. Be prepared

Knowing that you are as prepared as possible is a huge source of comfort, even if you don’t get the part. 

‘Do your homework, know your lines, and then leave it all at the door and enjoy yourself,’ said James.

9. Stay positive

Training yourself to see the cup as half full rather than half empty can also help you build resilience when negative situations arise. 

‘Be positive about you as an actor and be positive about the work of others – negativity breeds negativity!’ said Hamilton.

10. Value study

Learning new skills can be a great way to overcome doubt and become more confident in your ability. James said the best lesson she learned during her studies at AFTT was an underlying belief in herself as an artist, which has given her confidence in her career moving forward.

‘I learnt to be creative and to access parts of my creativity that I didn’t know before.’

11. Don’t take yourself too seriously

‘Don’t take each experience as life or death. As Anthony Hopkins once said, “It’s just a job – If I never acted again the sun would still rise tomorrow”. Take the work seriously but not yourself,’ said Hamilton.

12. Be open to opportunities

By remaining open to new opportunities as they present themself you might discover a new skill or ability you didn’t even know you had – you might even find that your calling in life was not the one you first anticipated.

‘Some actors make great teachers, writers, directors, community workers, tour guides, street theatre performers, kid’s party hosts, emcees. The list goes on,’ said Hamilton.

If you are interested in finding out more about the courses on offer at The Academy of Film, Theatre and Television visit http://www.aftt.edu.au/courses 

The Essential Skills Series is brought to you in partnership with ArtsHub.