Ever Feel Like an Actor Fraud? Join the Club!

So you booked a great job, congrats! It feels amazing to receive the validation of booking work when you’ve been working your tail off in class, auditioning like crazy, and living the actor life.

But have you ever booked a gig and found yourself feeling like maybe you don’t really deserve it? Or like you somehow “tricked” casting into believing that you’re talented?

I certainly have, and guess what? It’s not uncommon for actors – or any artists, for that matter – to feel this way. In fact, there’s actually a term for this feeling in the psychology community: it’s called Imposter Syndrome. Eek!

What Does Michael Kostroff Have to Say about This?

The name Michael Kostroff might sound familiar to you: he has an impressive list of IMDB credits (The Good Wife, The Blacklist, Damages) and he also offers a class called Audition Psych 101 that helps actors build their auditioning skills.

Recently, Michael spoke to a group of actors in the My Big Year program that I offer. And you know what? Even though Michael has IMDB credits that go on forever, he could still relate to this feeling of being a fraud!

“Sometimes [when we book work] we suffer under the terrible burden of thinking that we fooled everybody and it’s all a mistake. But what’s the real fear? Identify it.”

He was speaking to an actress who recently booked a great job here in Chicago, and was having some fears come up around the project. Together, they identified that she was afraid of not being able to give a good performance.

He responded by commenting, “What helps me a lot is saying, ‘you know, [casting directors] are really good at [choosing the best actor]. I can trust their expertise in choosing me.’"

What a relief! Once you choose to trust the casting process, you can really get to work on the important stuff: acting. Click to TWEET.

Take it a Step Further + Find the Funny!

Michael went on to look at the more artistic side of the picture. He said, “I’m the vessel carrying this character’s life on screen. If I don’t do this, the character doesn’t get heard.”

In other words, when you book a role, you owe a duty to the work, to your collaborative team, and to the audience to tell a full, soulful story, no matter how large the role and no matter whether you feel like a fraud or not.

If the artistic approach isn’t quite cutting it for you... maybe it’s time to find the funny! I love this quote from Tina Fey, “The beauty of the Imposter Syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud.”

And if that still isn’t enough to help you sort through these feelings, I love this article: 21 Proven Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome. You’ll get a few laughs out of that one, too!

Have you ever felt like a fraud? How did you deal with it? Leave a comment in the area below to join the conversation. Also, check out these upcoming Chicago workshops for actors:

Courtney Rioux, The Whole Artist coaches actors and other creative talent who feel stuck in their career and want more out of life. She's here to help you shift your mindset from stuck and unhappy to empowered and joyful — all while making it feel fun and easy. It’s like therapy without the therapy.