Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ego Is Not Confidence

I see it has been a month since my last post.  Nothing much has prompted me to share my reactions with you until just the last couple of days during which I have been made aware of the overblown egos of some aspiring actors. 

The thing is that ego is not talent, nor charm, nor confidence.  Actors need talent and charm and confidence.  But they do not need ego.  When an aspiring actor contacts me and starts by telling me how he or she is so talented, good looking, and charming, a red  flag goes up.  I immediately become suspicious. Most always these Egos also say that they want to be a star or want to be famous.  And those are the wrong reasons to want to be an actor.

The problem with ego is that it usually masks inadequacies.  Psychologically, those overly filled with self-praise are usually covering up their fears.  Talented, charming and confident actors do not need to tell you they are those things because their actions and accomplishments demonstrate that they indeed have them.  Only the inadequate needs to tell you he or she has one of those things because otherwise you would never know it.  The story about Bernard arguing a case before the Supreme Court in "Death of a Salesman" makes the point. Willy says that it is strange that he never mentioned it, and Charlie says that he doesn't have to mention it, because he is going to do it.  

Very young aspiring actors are always telling me how their families and friends are putting down their aspirations.  They need to read "Death of a Salesman."  Don't talk about it, do it. And related to this is how can they convince their parents to support their aspirations to be actors?  Simple.  Be such an outstanding actor now that they will be proud to have you be an actor.

Then young people say to me, "Well, I need self confidence to be able to audition and to put myself forward  if I am going to be a success.  Therefore, I need to know I am good."   You need to know you can do it, and therefore you do it.   But you needn't act as though you are superior in any way.  There are many who can do it.  When you have the courage and confidence to meet strangers, you need to focus on them rather than on yourself.  The last thing a person who has just met you wants to hear coming out of your mouth is how good you are.  

Actors have resumes and head shots to demonstrate their talent, attractiveness, and charm.  Agents and casting directors can see those things in your documents and in your demo reels.   It is quite charming to meet someone who has true confidence, and a lack of ego is always refreshing.

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