Do you hold yourself back in order to get along, make others feel good, or for other reasons? Does your voice in the world represent who you are, and how you feel about who you are?
Mary-Elaine Jacobsen, Psy.D. – author of The Gifted Adult – notes, “There are millions of unidentified individuals of high potential lost within the fabric of a society that seems to have issued an edict against knowing oneself, being oneself, and expressing oneself fully.”
One of our main forms of expression is our “voice” – what and how we connect to others, including writing and the way we speak.
Natalie Portman acted in her first notable role at age 13, in “The Professional,” and grew up largely on film sets.
Writer Amy Kaufman comments, “It wasn’t until she attended Harvard University that she says she was able to find her own voice, abandoning the ‘yes, ma’am’ attitude she’d adopted during adolescence.”
“When you’re a child, and a director is telling you what to do, you’re just like, ‘OK.’ It’s like it’s your parents,” Portman recalled. “There are certain people that have personalities, even as kids, where they’re like, ‘No! I won’t do that!’ But that’s just not me at all.”
Having to tap into that side of herself while playing the deferential Nina [in her movie Black Swan], she said, was more challenging than nearly all of the physical work.
“I was a good kid, and I probably stayed in that phase longer than most kids. I think even into my early adulthood, I was like, ‘Yes, thank you, sorry,'” she said.
“Having that apologetic, pleasing side to me — I’ve worked really hard to get out of that. Now, if I want something different, I’ll say it. Darren [Aronofsky, the director] learned one day that after trying everything he wanted to do, if on the last take he said, ‘Do this one for yourself,’ that’s the one that would be my best.”
[From ‘Black Swan’ director ruffles actresses’ feathers, By Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times, November 28, 2010.]
In another article, Portman was asked about how her feelings about herself have changed compared with earlier in her life.
“You just start feeling happier in your own skin,” she said. “And also I think that takes away a lot of the competition [with other actresses] because you know you can only do what you can do and you can’t do what anyone else does. It allows you to enjoy everyone else a lot more, too.”
[From The Actress Roundtable, The Hollywood Reporter, Nov 10 2010, moderated by Matthew Belloni and Stephen Galloway.]
Actor Mena Suvari (“American Beauty”) was raised in an affluent family, and so sheltered she “never even learned how to take out the garbage,” according to a profile article.
At 21, she married cinematographer Robert Brinkmann, 17 years older, and during the five year marriage remained insecure and dependent.
“I’d convinced myself that I wasn’t capable of doing things,” she says. “I felt as if I were waiting for someone to validate me.”
But after her divorce, she began to see herself as an individual, rather than as someone’s wife or daughter, and said, “I’ve gotten to the point where all the love that I need, all the support that I need, the confidence, I can give myself. It’s empowering and freeing.”
From post on my Women and Talent site: Building identity: The courage to define yourself.
The movie “In a World…”, written, directed by and starring Lake Bell, is a “comedy about a struggling vocal coach who strikes it big in the cutthroat world of movie-trailer voiceovers, only to find herself in direct competition with the industry’s reigning king—her father.”
[Summary from the movie Facebook page, also the source of the “You sound like a squeaky toy…” image.]
In her article about the movie, Irene Lacher asks Bell, “Your character says (and this drives me crazy too), ‘Women should be women, not baby dolls who end everything in a question.’ Can you talk about that?”
Bell responds: “I personally don’t like to be preached to, but this is a small soapbox moment in that respectfully and lovingly because I am a woman and I love women, I feel that the sexy baby vocal virus that is rampant is unsavory because it is diminishing women and how they’re representing themselves.
“It’s a dangerous vocal trend, because it evokes the woman who’s speaking it is a little girl submissive to the male sex. It’s somehow to be more sexually relevant, whereas I would disagree. I don’t think a 12-year-old girl is sexy.
“My point is not to be disrespectful to those who do talk that way but rather to say, hey, I think you’re better than that, and frankly it’s a dialect, and FYI, you can fix it if you just became slightly more vocally aware. I’m passionate about it, for sure.”
[From “Lake Bell speaks out on voice-over work” by Irene Lacher, Los Angeles Times, August 10, 2013.]
Not a gender thing
The above examples are not meant to imply these are only “female issues.”
We can all be overly deferential or have a limiting sense of self worth and identity, or difficulties with assertiveness and expressing our needs and points of view.
Also see Lefkoe’s Natural Confidence program.