THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS "NERVOUS"
I don't allow the word "nervous" in my workshop.
There is no such thing as "nervous".
The physical sensation of what some people call "nervous"-
i.e., your heart racing and butterflies in your stomach
-is the exact same physical sensation as "excitement".
So, "nervous" is just "excitement" labeled negatively.
And let me say this loud and clear:
YOU MUST BE EXCITED IN ORDER TO ACT!
Your heart MUST be racing! Your stomach MUST be full of butterflies!
It's WHY you became an actor to begin with. So you could feel that thrill of excitement.
Your heart racing is what plugs you into your higher power (or "the magic of acting"), and allows you to have an experience larger than yourself.
It allows you to feel what mountain climbers and alpine skiers risk their lives to feel, but you get to feel by simply standing in front of an audience.
That feeling of excitement is there to help you. Without that adrenaline rush you wouldn’t be able to give the performance you want to give. It's that extra flow of blood to the brain that sharpens your senses, improves your memory, and makes you emotionally available.
It's "excitement" that allows a basketball player to shoot the ball through the hoop, SWISH!, from mid-court. Just like an athlete, you need that energy to perform to the best of your ability.
Famed British Actress, Dame Judi Dench describes the sensation this way, “You use it, because fear produces adrenaline, which fuels the performance. It is batteries.”
However, when an actor is feeling excitement AND his vulture says something negative, he may make the mistake of labeling that excitement something called "nervousness".
In other words, "nervousness" is just "excitement" PLUS negative thoughts.
Two people are waiting in line for a roller coaster. They are both feeling their heart racing and butterflies in their stomach. The first says, “I’m so excited!” then goes on the roller coaster and has a great time.
The second says, “I’m so nervous!" then runs home and misses out on a great experience.
It was the same feeling, but two very different reactions to that feeling.
The first person's vulture was silent, so he was able to enjoy the feeling of excitement.
Whereas the second person's vulture was saying something like, "This roller coaster is old. It could break while you're riding it. You could DIE!"
It wasn't the feeling that was upsetting the second person. It was the negative thoughts.
Feelings aren't facts! It's your thoughts that create your reality.
This is why learning to control your thoughts is so important! As an actor, it's the only thing you can control.
So to sum it all up:
If I was feeling what some people call "nervous" before an audition, and someone asked me how I was doing, I'd reply,
“I'm excited, THANK GOD, and am currently in the process of releasing some negative thoughts.”
See, in this way, I'M the one in control. Not some monster called "nervousness" that I have no control over.
All actors feel excitement.
It’s up to you whether you want to use it for against yourself.