Hi guys and welcome to the Acting Classes In Perth blog. In this session “How Actors Can Overcome Nerves & Self Belief”.
Every individual faces nerves at some point or another, if not on a continual basis. It’s not only something that is common to those who are new to acting, it happens to everyone. It doesn’t matter if you're performing in front of hundreds of people, or on a small film set, every actor will experience nerves. It’s completely normal, so never think otherwise. What happens is we are put into a situation outside our normal comfort zone, foreign to what we know and we become overwhelmed by adrenalin. Adrenalin is pumped through our body to increase the rate of blood circulation, breathing, and muscle exertion (which is why you may feel butterflies, or tight chested, etc.). It’s very tempting to let nerves get the better of us, but quite often that’s because we don’t have the techniques in place to effectively control and manage them.
Here are a few tips and some helpful guidance to deal with nerves. The very first place to start is with is self-belief. You need to learn to believe in yourself. The moment you walk in to that audition room or onto that film set and start to doubt yourself, is when nerves will kick in. You need to trust yourself and your skills, be prepared and commit. Never be afraid of your audience - whether that is the people who are auditioning you, the director or a live audience. Remember they want to see you do well, because they want the best out of you as an actor. Try to define who your audience is and when possible spend some time getting to know them. Some actors use a little mantra that they say before stepping out to perform. For example “I am here. I am ready. I am enough.” Find one that works for you and say it to yourself whenever you feel nervous. Instead of giving yourself a million reasons why you can’t, by saying something positive to yourself you have a much greater chance of overcoming nerves and performing at your best.
One of the keys to overcoming nerves is to be prepared. Make sure you know your lines, your character and the story inside out. Structure your time well so that even if you aren’t given long to prepare you can go into the situation feeling secure in your preparation. There is no reason why you can’t have two or three characters developed in your actor’s toolbox to draw upon in circumstances like these. Make sure you are always organised and prepared. Very simple things such as never leaving things to the last minute, especially when it comes to learning lines. Have everything ready the day before you need them like directions, costume, script, etc. One thing that doesn’t help out nerves is added stress because you are running late, so make sure you always leave enough time so you arrive early.
So what happens if I do find myself in the moment, completely flooded with nerves? In one word? Breathe! It’s the best place to start. Practice slow, deep breathing to calm down the adrenalin that is being pumped through the body. Close your eyes and find a place where you can shut out everything around you, then you can bring your attention and focus back on the character. This is when you would say your mantra to yourself. Drink plenty of water and remember to smile. Your brain releases chemicals when you smile, regardless of whether you mean to smile because you're happy. The chemicals are a natural relaxant and help to make you feel more at ease. When we are nervous or stressed we build up tension, and tension is stored in our muscles. Try to practice dropping your shoulders, stretching them and loosening them up to remove that tightness. Nerves don’t have to be your enemy, through practice you can learn to control them and harness them to develop a great performance filled with energy, focus and charisma.
I hope this helps, until next time, stay safe and as always - happy acting.
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