Many people wonder whether actors can be shy or introverted. It’s understandable considering an actor’s job is to perform on a stage or screen in front of potentially thousands of people. But is this true? Can actors really be introverted?
Yes, actors can definitely be introverted. Although actors can often seem extroverted in certain situations, this is more down to confidence and comfortability. An actor can be introverted and still play extroverted characters because they’re energised by performing and feel comfortable in character.
But there’s more to this than a simple yes, so in this article, I’ll be going more in-depth into why actors can be shy or introverted and still be successful.
Table of Contents
The Difference Between Shy & Introverted
Before going any further, it’s important that we first clarify the differences between being shy and introverted. Although these may seem like the same thing, there’s definitely a very real difference between the two.
Someone that is shy will often want to be in social situations but may feel uncomfortable, nervous or self-conscious around others. Interestingly, shy people are often introverted, but introverts aren’t always shy.
Someone that is introverted simply gets energised by being alone. Introverts are often very social when they feel comfortable and relaxed around their peers, but they may feel more drained by the end of the day as they don’t get their energy from being around others.
Acting for Shy Actors
Shy actors may struggle to let go and experiment for fear of looking stupid or being judged. This is actually something that most actors must overcome at some point during their careers as a fear of “failing,” or looking stupid creates thin and timid performances.
The actor that can learn to let go and have fun with their performances will often be seen as the better actor. This doesn’t mean that shy actors aren’t talented though. Actors that consider themselves shy can still give amazing performances, once they’re comfortable and learn to let go.
I consider myself to be more introverted than extroverted, but I no longer consider myself to be shy. I was very timid as a child and would struggle to talk to people for fear of rejection or being judged. But when I found acting I very quickly came out of my shell.
In my experience, when working on a show I very quickly create strong bonds with my colleagues. I think this is because acting is a very revealing art form, there’s a part of ourselves in every character we play. When performing a scene with another actor, although it may not be “real life,” I’m still going through that experience with them and that creates a connection.
Acting for Introverted Actors
An introverted actor may not worry about being judged. If they do, this is something that they must also overcome, as I mentioned previously. Although the introverted actor may take a bit more time to open up to their colleagues than the extroverted actor would; when it comes down to performing, they thrive within the character.
I personally consider myself to be more introverted than extroverted, but once I’m comfortable around people, it’d be very easy to mistake me for an extrovert. I love performing, it gives me energy, I could do it all day.
But if you expect me to do small talk with a bunch of random people with no common goal (like working on a show together), I’d probably want to leave that room very quickly. Situations like this are much harder for me than standing on a stage and performing with people that I’ve gotten to know well through rehearsals.
Some people may think that performing in front of an audience may make introverted actors struggle more, but in my experience, this isn’t really true. I get incredibly energised when performing, and although I’m aware that the audience is there, it’s not something I’m thinking of because I’m busy doing my thing, acting.
Networking as an Introverted Actor
One thing I used to worry about was networking. I thought that, because I’m quite introverted, especially around new people, I’d struggle to network with people or I’d come across as rude, and that’s not something I want. But what I’ve learnt is that the most important thing is that you be yourself.
There are some massively famous actors that are very introverted, but they’ve still reached insane amounts of success. Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp, and Keira Knightley are just a few examples of highly successful, self-professed shy or introverted actors.
Networking isn’t about being outgoing, it’s about meeting new people and creating connections. But I think networking is a very cold term, I prefer to think of it as making friends. Every actor, director, casting director and filmmaker is a colleague.
Don’t go out and target specific people that you think would help your career, that’s insincere. Instead, live your life, experience new things, watch shows, and go to events and you’ll naturally meet and talk to new people. No need to force or fake anything.
Success as a Shy or Introverted Actor
If you’re shy or introverted, the most important thing is that you learn to forget what other people think. Learn to put everything into your performance. Learn to not care whether you look stupid or not. If you’re naturally a quiet person, you don’t have to be loud in your everyday life to be successful. But if you can learn to be loud in character when you need to be, that’s what matters.
An actor can be whatever they like during the day, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that, if need be, they have the ability to be something other than themselves when playing a character. If you can’t do this yet, then don’t worry, that’s what training and acting techniques are for.
If you’d like to learn about the best acting techniques that are used by the best actors all around the world then check out this article I wrote on the 5 Best Acting Techniques That All Actors Should Know.
Ultimately, you’re there to do your job. If someone was to watch you put everything into your performance and judge you for it, that’s their problem and not yours.
In fact, watching an actor put everything into a scene is really an amazing site. It’s not something you get to see every day and I’m sure most industry professionals would respect your ability rather than judge.
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