Acting – for me – is akin to standing naked in front of a large group of people and doing a funny dance. It gives me an incredible rush, but also scares me a lot of the time. In what other profession must you open yourself up completely in front of an audience or set full of strangers (or worse – friends!)?
My fear of getting out of my comfort zone became a big problem in my acting. I had a hard time giving it my all because I was always trying to play it “safe.” I knew that I had to start pushing myself if I was ever going to succeed. I decided to start taking improv classes. I will be totally honest with you: improv scared the bajeezus out of me. I was afraid I’d stand on stage and completely draw a blank, and appear to the audience like an untalented buffoon (which definitely happened in class a few times).
However, by the end of the class, I was able to confidently improvise with my classmates. Or, at the very least, appear as if I was confident. By doing what scared me, I broadened my skill set and realized that I was kinda maybe pretty okay at comedy. I also became less frightened of stretching myself beyond my comfort zone. When improvising, you have the option to be any character, which means you run the gamut between being super attractive and grotesquely ugly. A lot of people are terrified of looking stupid or unattractive – myself included – which is problematic in acting. As an actor, you must be willing to be bizarre, awkward, beautiful, funny, vulnerable, sexy, ugly, or any number of positive AND negative attributes.
Find something that scares you, and DO IT. It can only free you. Instead of stopping yourself from really going for it because you’re scared, remember what it is that you truly want, and use that to propel you forward. Refocusing on your goals will make the moment to moment feel a little less scary, which will allow you to let go and have more fun. Because, lest we forget, we actually ENJOY acting, right? If we walk around like a bundle of nerves and focus on the fear, we won’t live up to our full potential. And people will probably think we’re crazy, so there’s that.