Confidence vs. Arrogance: Grow a Successful Career Persona

Screen Shot 2019-01-07 at 11.56.33 AMBeing your own advocate is a crucial component of a successful career in the arts. But how do you distinguish between the kind of assertiveness and confidence that forwards your career, and the brassy showbiz arrogance that makes everyone hate you? It’s a tricky delineation, and often they feel like two sides of the same coin. Where they differ is the lasting effect each has on your career and your colleagues. Here are some things to keep in mind as you hone the kind of professional personality that will bolster you up without cultivating toxic behaviors.

 

BOOKING:

Confidence – First impressions are not to be underestimated. True confidence is a winning ticket. Naturally, talent and being a fit for the part will take precedence, but in a saturated market, where casting directors have the ability to choose not only who fits the part, but who they want to work with, confidence can give you an edge. It signals the casting director that you trust your training, that you don’t have wild insecurities to which directors and coaches will have to cater, and it allows your work to shine brighter than your persona. It’s human nature to want to trust someone who is already trusted. That starts with you. It should be noted that confidence isn’t something you are born with. It takes practice. Fake it till you make it!

Arrogance – Bringing genuine arrogance into the room is a turn off. Most people have an intuitive sense for it and it will leave a bad taste in their mouth. They don’t need to hire someone they just don’t like. My caveat is to be honest with yourself. If you’re actually being a diva, that’s one thing. But “diva” and “arrogant” can also be lazy labels thrown around to discredit actors who are standing up for safety measures or fair treatment. It can disguise nepotism, racism and misogyny. Don’t make excuses for yourself, but be honest in your assessment of the situation.  

 

LONGEVITY (GETTING RE-HIRED):

Confidence – You are part of the package. Confidence makes you memorable. If you didn’t get the role the first time, casting directors might keep you in mind for future. Working with a confidence, humble, professional actor is a dream and a rarity. If you win a team over on set, you’re more likely to be hired again, to have roles rewritten and expanded, and generally to have a more respected long term career.

Arrogance  Okay, so maybe you skated through and got cast on charm, talent and BS. But arrogance makes you difficult to work with. It means you’re not really listening, and probably not taking direction well. It means maybe you cranked out a good performance on this project, but people might think twice before calling you in again in future.

 

LEADERSHIP:

Confidence- Remember that it’s not just about your individual performance. Storytelling is collaborative. Whether you’re a lead role or ensemble, you will help set the tone for any project. Confidence will help you project an environment of calm professionalism that will create space for art to flourish.

Arrogance-Arrogance is vampiric. It excludes the talent and contribution of others. It is divisive and isolating, and not conducive to strong leadership or positive modeling.

 

LEARNING AND GROWING:

Confidence  This is where confidence vs. arrogance truly make a difference. Confidence is inclusive. It is not threatened by the success of others, nor distracted by ego, so it allows you to learn from others. It is a foundation for, and not a hindrance to, good work. It helps you grow as an artist while still promoting yourself to the best of your ability.

Arrogance – Arrogance will limit you. It is self-promotion without self-reflection. It is tied to ego and adulation and will shut out the input of artists from whom you could learn.

 

As unfair as it may sound, it’s not just about the work. If you’re serious about a lifelong acting career, you need to become self-sustaining. You are inextricable from your acting. Cultivating confidence will help you get out of your own way, be a positive networking force, and elevate your work. Arrogance will only grind away at your growth and your professional relationships. Take comfort. It’s your choice.

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Rachel Rachel Frawley is an actor living in Atlanta. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University (with cognates in Music and Professional Writing) and is an Apprentice Company graduate from the Atlanta Shakespeare Co. She also works as an education artist for local theatres, which have included the Shakespeare Tavern and Aurora Theatre. For more information, visit her website at www.rachelfrawley.com