By Shannon Boatwright
One of my very favorite things in life is witnessing another individual gain confidence.
Inspiring others has always been part of my drive as a performer, producer, director, as a human in general, and certainly as a teacher. Right up there with inspiring others is seeing someone’s confidence grow and shine before your very eyes as a result of your own influence. Being a teacher definitely gives me an open sea of opportunity to attempt to build confidence in the young adolescents I have the honor of teaching.
The past two weeks I’ve been holding auditions for my honors drama program. I see tons of kids come in busting at the seams with nervous energy. Sometimes their nervous energy is crippling, creating a bumbling mess that physically renders them unable to speak straight, stand straight, or even think straight. I make it my mission, whether there’s outstanding talent present or not, to create an environment that makes them feel comfortable. I truly make major efforts to let them know I’m on their side. I want them to shine and enjoy the moment, just like they do when they’re privately practicing the art they’re intrigued with.
We all are superstars in the comfort of our own homes, cars, or showers. We work it and envision ourselves just like the celebrities we idolize on the big screen. When we’re in our own space wrapped up in our intrigue and passion, we let it go, shine, and rock it out with everything we’ve got, so why is it when most of us get in front of others, or in particular situations, we suddenly become unable to produce anything even close to worthy of sharing our passion, much less our talent? We all have the potential. Again, whether true skill is present or not, we have the potential to let loose and share our love for whatever art form fills us up. However, it’s difficult for a hardcore, nervous person to truly have fun in the moment that they’re auditioning for anything. It’s real life. It’s nerves. It’s utter fear in some cases.
Whenever I’m able to actually provide comfort and encouragement for someone to shine, whether on a small or large level, it’s truly a priceless and beautiful thing to witness if that person’s confidence comes forth. To see an individual reach a level in which they feel OK, capable, successful, and self-assured, is a lovely thing to witness – sometimes so much so that it’s a real heart filling moment that brings honest joy.
I had a young man come in to audition and he obviously had a spark about him. He had pizazz. It was in him, and I could see that he knew he could do it, but he had not had the time to memorize his monologue and the memorization part was totally holding him back. I could even tell he was trying to improvise his way through the monologue but just got hung up on flat out not remembering the words. He began saying, “I can’t do it, I just can’t do it…” I couldn’t tell if it was part of the monologue or him actually giving up. I had to ask, “What’s happening here?” With tears in his eyes, he proceeded to declare, “I just can’t do drama; I couldn’t memorize it!” I then asked him how long he’d had the monologue, in which he replied he’d just gotten it that day. Which means he’d memorized half of the long monologue in a very short amount of time and even seemed to capture the character as well. I applauded him on doing as well as he did in such a short amount of time and let him know I could tell that he was talented, totally capable of doing this monologue, and that I was going to need to see him do his thing! I let him hold the script in his hands, gave him direction and had him re-audition. The kid proceeded to nail it. He connected with the camera, he showed character and in turn felt great about it. Due to my encouragement, he was able to share his love for acting and give a really great audition. I was able to watch a child’s confidence literally soar right before my very eyes. Priceless.
It just goes to show that if you respond to others positively and provide a little encouragement, you can really help another individual shine. The really beautiful thing is that as I dedicate time towards building confidence in others, my own confidence grows. Being a confidence builder is a priceless thing. How do you help build confidence in others? What elements help to build your own confidence?