Can Your Posture Really Change Your Acting Career?

October 14, 2012

Wonder Woman in power position

“Fake it till you become it.” –Amy Cuddy

What position is your body in right now as you read this blog? Are you slouching with your ankles crossed? Do you have a leg kicked up on the desk? This might seem like a trivial question, and you might firmly believe your current posture has absolutely no bearing on the success of your career and life. But how important is your posture really? We’ve all heard how the simple act of smiling can actually make you feel happier, but recent scientific evidence is taking this line of thinking a step further. Harvard Business School professor and researcher, Amy Cuddy, studies how significantly our nonverbal behavior influences others as well as our internal selves.

All actors know what it feels like to be “on”–confident, passionate, comfortable, authentic. This is the best state of mind to enter an audition, give a speech, and even get a date. All actors likewise know how it feels to have an “off” day–insecure with thoughts of self-doubt, and a sense of being overwhelmed. It’s disheartening to return home at the end of the day feeling you didn’t show your best self, and beat yourself up over it.

Cuddy explains how simply opening your body posture for two minutes actually changes your testosterone levels (which, in turn, increases your sense of power) and diminishes your cortisone levels (this reduction makes you less reactive to stress). So what does this mean to you as an actor? It boils down to this…


Mick Jagger in power pose

Before your next big audition, DO NOT:

Sit with your legs or ankles crossed, hunch your shoulders, cross your arms, rest your head on your hands, or writhe on the floor in a fetal position. Any of these postures make your body smaller–and this affects your hormone levels so that you actually feel less powerful–and worse, perform less powerfully!

Here’s what you DO instead:

Take two minutes, and get yourself in a power pose like Wonder Woman’s legs-apart, fists-on-waist position. Or stand with your arms triumphantly reaching over your head. Or sit back with your hands clasped behind your head–anything to literally open up and make your posture larger.

That is all there is to it, folks! Two minutes.

TIME Magazine is calling Cuddy’s research on posture a Game Changer. “Using a few simple tweaks to body language, Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy discovers ways to help people become more powerful.”

So now not only can you enter your auditions emboldened with this knowledge, but you can also take your acting skills to the next level of the game. When asked to perform that lowly, subordinate, or strong, compelling lawyer, teacher, house wife, or gang member, use this bountiful resource of body language research to deliver a masterful performance. And remember this trick the next time you go for new headshots!

Click here to here to listen to Amy Cuddy’s informative, personal, and moving talk, and learn tips to fake it till you become it.