find articles by Author

Confidence Is In the Eye of the Beholder


Confidence is a funny thing. It’s very “chicken or the egg.” There are so many phrases, especially in this industry, about how it is important to “be confident.” Truthfully though, it’s a difficult thing to gain if you don’t feel like you have accomplished anything to make you feel that confidence. “Fake it till you make it.” “Confidence is sexy.” All of these sentiments focus on how if you have confidence, it is easier to snowball that into bigger and better things. But what if you don’t have that initial snow to begin with?

I know, I know, you are probably wondering what I am babbling about and how this has anything to do with the entertainment industry. For me, mindset is everything, and I have written about the importance of mindset throughout my writing career at Ms. In The Biz from my first article about tackling your “crazy” to overcoming your fear of networking, to the importance of putting on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others. Confidence, or a lack thereof, is so related to this wacky profession we have chosen.

I started thinking about confidence recently when a very dear friend of mine told me that they thought I wasn’t confident anymore. They said I had lost my sense of adventure, my ability to take risks, and my confidence as a person. I must admit, it sent me into a tail spin, and I started reaching out to friends and family to ask them if they knew where I could find this confidence that I had supposedly “lost” along the way.  The responses I got, and the lessons I learned, were the greatest gifts imaginable, and I wanted to pass this newfound information on to you.

My friends sent me back messages about my bravery when I moved to Australia without a plan, friends, or a place to stay to tackle my master’s degree. Others sent me messages about my experiences in high school, being one of the only Jews and the Anti-Semitic jokes and comments that were commonplace.  Still others talked about my confidence and bravery of being an artist: an actor and producer, and how the very core of my being was one based on bravery and adventure.

Of course, it was nice to have my accomplishments recognized but it also taught me a very important lesson: the specific examples of confidence cited were actually a reflection of the person themselves. They saw me as confident in ways that they themselves are insecure or uncomfortable. In this industry, and in our world, there is a lot of shaming. Body shaming, slut shaming, general digs at each other, but all that negativity is indicative of the insecurities of others.

This may not seem to be a mind-blowing new thought, but it reminded me that the original person who slammed my confidence is actually just showing that they themselves are hurting and insecure. It allowed me to grow in my compassion, understanding, and love towards that person and others. That in itself is such a gift.

My final point is this: the whole idea of “fake it till you make it” is actually true, but I encourage you to think deeper and truly believe that you already are confident. You already have that snow inside of you to create that snowball effect, and any slander or shaming that is flung your way isn’t about your own pitfalls, it’s about theirs. Every day you choose to be an artist, you are proving your confidence, they just haven’t figured out how to prove their own.

My suggestion for you is this, even if you are feeling like the biggest badass in the world; reach out to your community and find out why they think you rock. You might be surprised and reminded of all the amazing things you’ve accomplished, and learn something about your friends in the meantime. Write those things down so whenever you lose that sense of confidence, you can remind yourself that there is confidence already inside you.

Every day that we wake up and choose to be an artist: we are choosing to believe in our own abilities and prove that we are brave and adventurous. Yes, it is scary, but we do it anyway. If that isn’t confidence, I don’t know what is.

Deborah Lee Smith

About Deborah Lee Smith

Deborah Lee Smith is an award-winning actor, producer, and founder of “More Than You See”, a non profit organization dedicated to sharing stories and resources surrounding the daily struggles of mental health. Recent projects include “Here Awhile” starring Anna Camp (Pitch Perfect), and “Last Three Days” starring Robert Palmer Watkins (General Hospital). Deborah is also a regular contributing staff writer for the entertainment website “Ms. In The Biz”.