All the world’s a stage: Gain confidence through tips from Hollywood stars

It’s been said that confidence is the cornerstone of leadership, and luckily it’s something you can learn over time. Take former Tesco boss Terry Leahy for example. Despite having admitted to being “quite shy”, Leahy grew the chain’s market share in the UK by ten per cent during his 13 years at the helm – and he knew he needed to gain confidence to do it.

In fact, he said it is essential if you want to gain support from others. “Everyone has the ability to step forward and be a leader in a certain situation,” he explained. “However, to do that they have to believe in the organisation and know that if they do step forward they will be supported.”

But who better to glean confidence tips from than the Hollywood stars often playing roles they don’t feel comfortable with – and who constantly find themselves doing auditions for films. After all, Shakespeare said “all the world’s a stage”, so why not learn how to act a little?

One of the biggest pieces of advice is that there will always come a time where confidence lets you down. It pays off to put acting on your list of talents. This is according to “Money Monster” and “Gravity” star George Clooney.

In an interview with “Parade”, he unveiled: “I had to stop going to auditions thinking, ‘Oh, I hope they like me.’ I had to go in thinking I was the answer to their problem. You could feel the difference in the room immediately. The greatest lesson I learned was that sometimes you have to fake it. And you have to be willing to fail.”

Meanwhile, “Shutter Island” actress Emily Mortimer’s advice is that leaders should know when to listen. Some people try to set the tone out of nerves, she said. “Don’t barrel in and announce yourself in a loud showy-off way. Try to go in with a sort of quiet dignity. Be aware, and wait and listen. Listening is the ultimate tip if you want to gain confidence, and it’s one of the hardest things to do when you’re scared.”

helen mirrenBut let’s not forget Helen Mirren. The “Eye in the Sky” star has been a great champion of helping others boost their confidence – particularly when it comes to women. As part of a discussion with the Daily Mail, she even announced that if she had a daughter, the first words she would have taught her were fu*k off.

Of course, that’s not her only advice. In the book “Star Qualities” by Caroline Goyder, she divulged: “I’m not gregarious or an exhibitionist, but in my job you have to meet people constantly. It’s useful to drop your voice and keep your shoulders low and open. I was taught by a policewoman how to ‘gain confidence’: don’t fold your arms, stay open, keep your arms relaxed. It’s a hard thing to let your arms drop, but it’s so important to be open and relaxed.

“Speak loud, firmly use a low tone – demand to be heard. Often I hear women in noisy environments, like clubs, and the tone goes up and the voice gets shrill, much higher than it needs to be. And the shrill quality is unpleasant. When the voice is low, it’s easier to listen to.’

Bill Nighy, from “About Time” and “Love Actually”, has also been known to weigh in on the subject. But for him, research is the all important factor. “It’s surprising how many people don’t fully prepare,” Nighy suggested. “I tried, in the old days, to invent not preparing as a process. It didn’t work. I apparently also had a tendency to look disinterested, if not actually unhappy, in my attempts to appear relaxed – so I learned to lighten my expression.”

Mirren aside, Goyder’s book is a treasure trove of advice on how to gain confidence, with a passage depicting how Katherine Hepburn got over her fear of acting on stage. Essentially, nobody should know how terrified you are; you’ve got to act cool. And if you want certain quality, as as if you already have it as well.

It echoes words previously used by “American Hustle” celebrity Amy Adams: You can truly change your attitude by acting in a different way. [On Enchanted] I was pooped, in no mood to be a cheerful princess. I often thought of that line in Mary Poppins at the beginning of ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’: ‘In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun, you find the fun and snap, the job’s a game.’ I still sing that to myself. I am that corny, it’s true.”

Of course, Bette Davis, regarded as one of the best actresses in history, had a penchant for pausing in the door frame for a moment, terming it the “moment of orientation”, but we’ll leave you with with this simple quote from Laurence Olivier to calm your nerves before that all-important meeting. 

“Relax your feet and always have more breath than you need.”

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