Natalie Portman Opens up About Having Impostor Syndrome

Despite Natalie Portman’s status as an Oscar-winning Harvard graduate, the actress still considers herself a fraud. Like many people, Portman admits she deals with imposter syndrome. According to Time Magazine, the definition of impostor syndrome is “the idea that you’ve only succeeded due to luck, and not because of your talent or qualifications.” And despite all of Portman’s success, she is still insecure about her “worthiness.” 

Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman | JOCHEN LUEBKE/DDP/AFP via Getty Images

Natalie Portman’s acting career launched at 11-years-old

Barely old enough to attend junior high, Portman was already getting recognition by agents in the business. When Portman was 11, she was discovered in a pizza parlor by a representative. The representative suggested that Portman consider a career in modeling. Despite the generous offer, the Harvard-grad found modeling to be mundane for her taste. So instead, she chose to pursue acting. Her passion for the artform soared, and it eventually landed Portman a role in the film, The Professional.  

Natalie Portman admits she deals with Impostor Syndrome 

Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman | Barry King/WireImage

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In Portman’s Harvard commencement speech, the Closer actress reveals how insecure she still feels about her success. The actress tells the graduating class of 2015 that she feels like there has been some sort of mistake, that she’s not meant to have the opportunities she’s been given. Despite her insecurities, Portman works hard to remind herself that she is worthy and that she is successful for a reason. The actress reveals,

“So I have to admit that today, even 12 years after graduation, I’m still insecure about my own worthiness. I have to remind myself today; you are here for a reason. Today, I feel much like I did when I came to Harvard Yard as a freshman in 1999. I felt like there had been some mistake,” she admits. “That I wasn’t smart enough to be in this company and that every time I opened my mouth, I would have to prove I wasn’t just a dumb actress.”

She continues. “Sometimes your insecurities and your inexperience may lead you to embrace other people’s expectations, standards, or values. But you can harness that inexperience to carve out your own path. One that is free of the burden of knowing how things are supposed to be. A path that is defined by its own particular set of reasons.”

Natalie Portman cares more about fan reactions than her critics

In an interview with W Magazine, Portman says her first movie, The Professional, did horribly at the box office. Unfortunately for Portman, critics tore the picture to shreds. Of course, hearing that the move was a disaster was heartbreaking for the young actress, considering it was her first film. But luckily, Portman admits that The Professional is the film her fans seem to adore the most.

“We got killed by the critics,” she says. “It got horrible, horrible reviews. And it really didn’t make any money in the US. And it’s still the only thing people come up to me about,” Portman admits. “It’s still the thing people tell me is their favorite movie. So it just reminded me, you know, it’s the movie that speaks to people- not necessarily the impression at the moment it comes out.”