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If you find your nerves getting the better of you while performing, rest assured you’re not alone. Even impeccably trained, experienced, and well-prepared actors can get the jitters during auditions and on set.


Andra Day

Take Andra Day. The 36-year-old performer prepared for two solid years with the support of the finest coaches and experts to portray the iconic singer Billie Holiday in The United States vs. Billie Holiday. Andra had rather large shoes to fill, and she took her job very seriously. In the end, the star earned both an Oscar nod and a Golden Globe win for her phenomenal performance. But that doesn’t mean it all came easy. 

The “Rise Up” singer shared during The Envelope’s Actress Roundtable interview: “It was definitely terrifying and, first of all, I’ve always loved movies, and I’ve always had such a great respect for the craft of acting. And so I think to be sort of thrust into it, my biggest terror was that I was going to suck. I was like, ‘You can’t suck, you gotta be good.’” 

Even as she was receiving tremendous resources and steadfast support, the terror the actress experienced was overwhelming at times; in fact, she was scared she might get shingles due to the stress. Thankfully, that did not happen. Rather, Day explains, “I’m transformed by [the experience]. It was terrifying but also the most challenging and the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life.” 


Kate Winslet 

“[The terror] never goes away!” Kate Winslet interjected. “News flash: It never goes away!” 

In fact, the British actress admits she has come down with shingles as a result of performance anxiety. 

Her father was an actor with much downtime between roles who worked numerous odd jobs to raise his four children. The words of wisdom he imparted to his talented young daughter were: “You’re only as good as your last gig, baby.” This made a tremendous impact on the rising star. “I’ve never forgotten it!” she insists. “It’s absolutely true.”

After her extraordinary success with Titanic, Kate felt tremendous pressure to make the right next move. 

“This is it. This is the moment you’ve always dreamed of—and look at this incredible offer that’s come in, and look at this salary you’re being offered,” she recalls thinking.

“And I was too scared; I wasn’t ready to be a famous person. I was 21-22 years old and had so much to learn. Also, I didn’t want to screw up early on. I wanted to always be doing this job. And I at least was smart enough to know that you don’t do that by taking a big fat paycheck and just going with the biggest, fastest opportunity just because it’s there, and that seems to be the thing you’re meant to do. And so I did push back, and I did do smaller films, and I did things that I knew would actually make me happy and would challenge me regardless if anyone saw them or not. That was where I had to be brave.”


Michelle Pfeiffer

French Exit star Michelle Pfeiffer assured Andra Day that she is not alone in her fears. Now at the age of 63, the eclectic actress says, “When I first started acting, probably for the first ten years, I literally on the first day would shake so terribly that I was sure you could see it on film. Fortunately, you couldn’t.” While Pfeiffer no longer finds herself quivering, her insecurities remain; for she admits: “I still have those jitters. I still think on the first week of shooting I’m going to be fired or replaced.” That being said, the thrice Oscar-nominated actress says she loves to take on roles that challenge her.


Rashida Jones

On the Rocks actress Rashida Jones admitted she is “terrified of performing live.” However, the Harvard University graduate keeps a sense of humor and focuses on doing “things out of love, not fear.”


Vanessa Kirby

Vanessa Kirby revealed how there are still times when the pressure gets to be too much, and she asks herself, “Why? Why am I doing this to myself? Why?” But the Pieces of a Woman star asserts, “You have to go through that and do it anyway.” Her self-critical thoughts are greeted with a conscious effort to be good to herself. Every day, Kirby works to be “real, compassionate, kind … and really forgiving” with herself as she navigates her career. 


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