Creativity Coaching

How Penelope Cruz Leverages Her Fear to Create Mastery

By Valery Satterwhite | Posted 11/30/09 | Updated 4/7/24

"When I start a movie, the first day, I feel like a duck." —Penelope Cruz, Academy Award Winning Actor

Penelope Cruz makes no secret that she's terrified when she embarks on a new project, a new role. Inner thoughts of not being talented enough and anxiety over the sureness that she will be fired for one reason or another engulfs her mind as she prepares for those first few days on the set.

While there is the occasional thespian who musters the temerity confidently to embody a character at the onset, Cruz is certainly not alone among actors who begin insecure and fearful they may not be able to deliver the performance the Director is looking for.

Fear and panic are not great external forces; they are powerful internal ones, generated deep in the part of the brain that is home to what I playfully call the Inner Critic. The Inner Critic is that egoic part of you that means well, wants to keep you safe, yet is woefully misguided. Preferring to keep you secure in your current comfort zone it will block you from stretching into the unknown. Every time you choose safety you reinforce what you terrifies you.

Unfortunately many talented people in every creative endeavor freeze and succumb to their fears. They Find Excuses And Reasons (F.E.A.R.) not to take on challenges, quit or hold back on the fullest expression of their creation. Have you ever faced an opportunity you wanted, perhaps even longed for, but were afraid? What went through your head at the time? Did allow your fear to hold you back or did you harness and leverage your fear to propel you forward beyond fear and into performance mastery?

"I haven't lost the normal fear and insecurity that comes with acting, and I don't want to lose it. Every time a project starts, it feels like the first time. You have all these experiences that have been accumulating, yes, but it's still new, still fresh, and I love all of those feelings, all of them. Especially the fear. Because I need that fear. I use it as fuel." —Penelope Cruz

Actors like Cruz acknowledge their inner fear and trepidation as they turn and focus that energy into their creation. As a committed actor, acting is more important to Cruz than giving in to her fear. Like an alchemist, she turns that fear into courage to push herself to even higher levels of excellence with each performance.

"Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom." —Marilyn Ferguson, American author, editor and public speaker

If you surrender to your fear, let it overpower you, you destroy the creative passion that burns within you. If you try to suppress your fear, tension will build and become blocked impulses, responses, emotions and thoughts. This is the death knell for an actor.

If you acknowledge your fear and release that depth of emotion into your performance, into your art, into whatever it is you what to bring forth into this world you will experience a life-affirming richness of fulfillment. You fear will disappear as you embracing the foreboding nightmare and mindfully step through it with every fiber of your being. There is nothing more thrilling and exhilarating than the fullest expression of your creative potential.

Next: Two Fundamental Steps to Empowering Imagination

Copyright ©2009 Valery Satterwhite. All rights reserved.