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My child has stage fright and wants to become an actress. What do I do?
Many people who choose an acting career are actually pretty shy in real life or suffer from stage fright. Often, the more artistic and imaginative types struggle the most with public fear, so your daughter is not alone in both wanting to perform and being afraid of it.
Actually, a little amount of adrenaline is not a bad thing when you get on stage. It helps actors stay high energy and focused. Many performers are not impaired by their stage fright. Chances are that with a little bit of experience speaking in front of others in acting class, your child actor will also learn to use their fear rather than be controlled by it. Just the fact that she wants to be an actress shows she feels she can do this and is willing to work on it.
Some aspiring actors, though, get so overtaken by fear that they freeze at auditions and can’t show their real talent. It can be even worse at a young age when everything is black and white. Kids have a huge imagination and the ability to make believe like no one else, which means they also take their fears very seriously.
There is plenty of advice out there for actors to conquer stage fright: breathe, focus on character and objectives, etc… but I find that none of these stage fright tips are very useful if you just try them in the moment of fear when you are about to perform.
When we get very nervous, we can’t control what our mind is thinking and imagining. No amount of breathing or attempt to focus can change that if we haven’t worked on it previously. Being able to control and harness stage fright takes daily practice, like preparing to run a marathon.
Performers can practice awareness and breathing every day and do mindfulness exercises that help them over time not be at the mercy of their thoughts and fears.
You can find additional information on this page on conquering public fear. Depending on the age of your child, you could adapt these techniques or maybe find a fun yoga class for kids to complement her acting classes.
And just remind her from time to time that stage fright is not a bad thing. It’s a sign that she can feel a lot and has a rich imagination, two very important qualities for a talented actor!