Welcome to “Chatting Confidence”, a three part series with Broadway performer, Disney Princess, and fierce goddess, Courtney Reed. Courtney has become one of my leading role models and has taught me so much about confidence purely through her example.
So basically for this feature, we got on the phone for an hour when I was in London and only talked about confidence. (ok, that’s a lie, a few times we got really sidetracked lol)
here’s what happened…
Jane: Let’s chat confidence Courtney!
Courtney: I love confidence!
Jane: Me too! You’re literally the most confident person I know.
Courtney: Yeah right, you’re ridiculous.
Jane: It’s true! It’s so true.
Courtney: Thank you!
Jane: Serious! How do you feel your confidence has evolved from when you first started performing to now, #FullOutBroadwayPrincess.
Courtney: It’s crazy, it’s been coming up a lot recently and you know what, even just growing older you become more confident in yourself and start to know yourself more. I feel like everyone is constantly evolving, obviously. You’re constantly gaining confidence… you grow you gain more and more confidence. I think once I figured out that I was unique.. it kind of stemmed from growing up in a small town. I wanted to fit in and be like everybody else. And then I grew up and I got older and I went to a performing arts high school and performing arts college.
It was when I went to a major city, I really started to realize that being unique is kind of amazing, nobody wanted to be like anyone else. I was going to school in Chicago and people were dressing differently and they were taking risks and then I started to realize what if I did that. What if I started just doing things that I wanted to do rather than trying to conform to society’s standards. And I thought “oh my gosh, now I’m fully appreciating my cultural background and being unique and not looking like everyone else.”
Then, moving to New York, booking work and making my Broadway debut, I realized “Oh, confidence is literally one of the most important things when you’re a performer.” Because you have to be confident in yourself in order to perform your best because the audience is not going to believe you if you don’t feel confident in whatever you’re doing. And I think that’s actually the truth for everything in life. If you’re not confident in your choices; if you’re not confident in the way you do anything, people are just not going to take you seriously. And I think I struggled a little with that too because I didn’t want people to think that I was full of myself or, that, you know I was like, too cool for school. I never wanted anyone to think that. I always wanted people to think “She’s approachable and sweet and kind to everyone, but she is her own person.”
Jane: That was my first impression of you- an example of being really confident and fierce. I truly mean that. I feel like it was never off-putting. I never felt intimidated by you. I feel like when you’re around someone who’s super confident in an arrogant way, it feels really intimidating instead of empowering. I think that’s the difference between empowering confidence and arrogance— a good confidence empowers you and empowers the people around you and when you have a confidence that is arrogant or like you mentioned “full of yourself”, it sort of isolates you from the people around you, you know?
Courtney: You articulated that so much better than I did! It was so good! I just had a religious moment there just now. It’s true, I think, too, you care less about what people think about you in a sense, whether they’re judging you or not. I’ve always cared what people think of my character. I want people to think “she has good values and she is a good person.” As far as the way that I look, or people judge me on any of the exterior stuff, I started to realize that I don’t care anymore! I don’t care if they don’t think that my lipstick matches my outfit.
Jane: Ok, pause… you have the fiercest lipstick collection of anyone I know!
Courtney: You’re ridiculous!
Jane: But seriously! It’s the whole spectrum though.. presenting yourself as a role model the way that you do- that side of confidence, which is so admirable. But then it’s this other side. You’ll wear this black-purple lipstick and I’m just like “Yes!”. It just letting yourself be free to make those choices and feel good about yourself whether wearing awesome makeup or whether it’s being an example to a 10 year old.
Courtney: Oh my gosh! Totally! The other day one of my friends was like “I want to have a day with you where we just do make up and you teach me how to do lashes and stuff like that”. I told her it was literally an obsession of mine since I was a kid, doing makeovers, it’s my favorite thing ever. Like those TV shows where they’ll make people over and they start crying. It literally has nothing to do with that fact that you put on makeup and you seem prettier.
For example, my sister and I got my mom all of this crazy makeup for Christmas and were like, just treat yourself, it’ll be fun! And she said to me “she said thank you for giving your gift and I’ve been having fun playing with the makeup and thank you for having me always look my best and, you know…I can look my best all the time.” I emailed her back and I said “I definitely am so happy that you’re using the makeup, but I don’t want you to think that you don’t look your best without makeup.” You know what I mean? My mom is like the most confident person ever. Thank god she’s such a role model. But I never want people to think “oh let me make you over because you’re not pretty. No, why don’t you look at yourself differently when you look in the mirror and see that you ARE beautiful? You don’t need these things, but I think when people do, they put it on and they feel like they can be something new and unique. Which I think is fun about makeup and girly things and whatever it is, it gives them a boost of confidence.
Jane: It’s so fun to change up your look… it can make you feel or walk differently! I love it!
Courtney: Totally! It’s the way that you feel. It doesn’t matter what other people think.
Jane: I love the idea of taking the time for yourself every day to do something that makes you feel confident and it’s not limited to makeup. Any practice that you have- finding that time for yourself- whatever it is that makes you feel good and feel like you. Whether that’s going to a spin class or putting on heels or meeting up with a friend every single day so that you can connect with someone. Whatever it is. Finding those things that make you feel super confident.
Courtney: Oh my gosh, completely. Yeah, funny because you know how obsessed I am with Soul Cycle- It feels like “this is my world for 45 minutes.” It’s not 45 minutes to think about the email you need to reply to or your phone…that’s why we keep the phones out of the room because this is your 45 minutes. I think for people who feel as if they can’t…that they don’t have time to work out or they don’t have time to make dinner or whatever it is to feel healthy. If you can’t find time for yourself, then you’re not-I feel- you’re not living your life correctly because you only have one body and this is the one you’re given—love it. I remember a girl instructor at Soul Cycle she was like “Everyone take your shirts off… you got one body and you better love it.” And it was so matter-of-factly.
Jane: This is SO amazing.
Courtney: I was like, “…Ah! Take my shirt off?” And a bunch of girls had taken their shirts off! They were just cycling in their bras and tights. But it’s so true! Why do we spend so much time hating on our bodies? If you take class and you’re doing things to better your life, you have to appreciate your body on the journey when you’re getting there. Taking that time for yourself. It’s frustrating to see people unhappy with the way that they feel or their weight. It’s like “Take that time for you!” If you don’t love yourself, imagine everything else that won’t fall into place.
Jane: Have there been times in your life where you’ve fallen into negative thought patterns? I feel like generally you’re very positive and you believe in yourself but, I don’t know how to word this… you’re stable enough in your work and validated in a way that would probably naturally give you more confidence. Was there a time where you weren’t?
Courtney: Yeah completely. All the time. And I think that everybody has those feelings and I think that they’re totally natural because you have to have those feelings in order to build your confidence back up, you know? Of course I had a lot of doubt and would stress a lot about even the process of Aladdin— thinking about all the expectations that come from portraying an iconic princess that everyone has an idea about and then having to accept the fact that you’re not going to be able to please everyone. Or having doubts about the career that I chose and knowing how competitive it is or even when you get into the odd thing of seeing someone else who’s getting something that you’re not. You know, it’s always that but then you constantly remind yourself that everyone’s path and everyone’s journey is different. Everyone is like a snowflake! Everyone’s so unique! You know what I mean!?
Jane: Ok, let’s pretend. Rewind 3 years.. you’re sitting there, you’re struggling and you don’t get a job that you really want and you think “oh I shouldn’t be doing this. I shouldn’t be doing this kind of work- I never should have gone into this industry. I feel terrible about myself. I’m never going to make it in this industry.” You have that thought pattern. Is there something you did or or do now when you find yourself in a negative thought process?
Courtney: Well actually my boyfriend is kind of the bomb because he always breaks it down so that it completely makes sense. You know sometimes I confide in him about it and even just saying it out loud to somebody who is not judging you and I always know he’s never judging me. He will say something like, “you’re an actor- you know what that means. Everybody goes through it.” But me saying it out loud makes me feel better and towards the end of the conversation I’m like “oh yeah, I was just being crazy. It’s totally fine.” But everyone’s allowed to grieve over those roles they don’t get. People should never feel they’re being dramatic or getting upset about the thing that they were so passionate about getting. So much work is put into callbacks, one-on-ones, director sessions, changing keys and doing all this stuff.. of course you’re allowed to be sad! Let it run through you and then eventually you’re going to get over it just like you get over everything else in life.
Jane: It’s amazing you have him to be such a rockstar support in your life. Healthy relationships are the bomb. I’ve been using this meditation app called Headspace and it really encourages you to allow your thoughts to come and go with ease, not holding on to any thought or emotion. They give this metaphor that it’s like watching cars pass by. You’re watching the thoughts pass by and I feel like its been helping me train myself. When I have a thought or when I have anxiety or when I have sadness or when I’m feeling a certain way that’s negative and I don’t want to feel, typically I have such an inclination to resist and think “I shouldn’t be feeling this way. I shouldn’t be feeling this sad or I shouldn’t be thinking about this situation and feeling so negative.” But if you give yourself a little bit more space to say to yourself, “it’s okay.” The way you would talk to a friend. It’s fine that you’re feeling upset. Let yourself feel that and it’s going to be fine. It’s suddenly washes through you because there’s not so much tension holding on to it. You know? And suddenly its okay to let that go through and then it invites space for something better to come in!
Courtney: Oh my gosh, completely! And it’s so hard because I feel like people are so resistant to it. Because they say “I shouldn’t be feeling this way. I shouldn’t be.” But there are no rules! Who says you should and you shouldn’t? Let it run it’s course. Sometimes a good cry…it’s so funny, but when you have a good cry, all of the sudden you’re like “I feel so good!” It’s such a societal thing. It’s like “don’t cry, don’t show your emotion…” I feel like the total opposite. It’s exactly what you would say to your friends. “Let it out.”
All photos for “Chatting Confidence with Courtney” are by the amazing, Lumberjack Studios.
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