Priscilla Avila: How To Thrive Despite Experiencing Impostor Syndrome
Self-knowledge — Visiting a therapist, reading about psychology / self-help and checking if your thoughts really make sense are great tools to ward off the fragile ego.
As a part of our series about how very accomplished leaders were able to succeed despite experiencing Imposter Syndrome, I had the pleasure of interviewing Priscilla Avila.
Priscilla Avila is a Brazilian actress and writer. She has appeared in several Brazilian plays, films, and Tv Shows, most notably as Stefani in 2017’s “171 Negocio de Familia” at Universal Channel Brazil. She also could be seen in an Indian Movie “Mosagallu” that was released in US Theaters on 19 March 2021. As a young woman, she remained adamant also about her education. Studying Psychology and after changing her field for Foreign Languages, Culture and Creative Economy. She learned several languages in college and began to travel around the world to complement her skills. She did some acting training in Argentina, France and later in US. While continuing her career in Brazil, Avila earned a Master Degree in Cinema from a Brazilian University in Sao Paulo. She won also a scholarship for the Summer Art Course in Santa Fe University, NM in 2014 and it was her first time in US. She wrote several scripts for short movies and Brazilian TV shows and now she is writing a novel about her life struggles.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
Thank you to have me. I started my career in theatre very young and I began selling paintings at the age of 15. That combined with the desire to make movies, which is a painting in motion, is something that happened naturally. The willing to pursue my career internationally was also something that I felt when I was a teenager. I have a degree in Foreign Languages applied to International Negotiations and a Master in Cinema because my goal is to be an international creator. I have some business work experience as well and I have always applied those skills in my artistic trajectory.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I think one of the best stories was when I had to write a script for TV about Brazilian brothels and I pretended to be a prostitute and went for work interview in one of those places. I was very scared, but it turned out to be a very safe and respectful environment as a job interview in a business company. I did not need to show or do anything besides talking about the kind of sexual activity I was planning to offer. I
After this experience I realized respect is not associated with the context you are inserted in, but with the character of the people around you.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I intend to take a very humanistic and truthful approach to everything I do. And that always stands out in everything I produce. I am not afraid to say or expose something that many people feel uncomfortable sharing and this is a good strategy because they always feel understood when they listen.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Many people helped me on this journey and I can exemplify Erman Baradi as a great supporter of people in the United States. He and his company Ermantourage are trying to do a beautiful job in Los Angeles and some other places.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the experience of Impostor Syndrome. How would you define Impostor Syndrome? What do people with Imposter Syndrome feel?
Impostor syndrome is a belief within a person that he is not good enough. As much as I achieve several positive results, I cannot perceive myself as part of it. You think your achievements are the result of luck or any other factor. The merit does not go to us. Then, the individual builds, within his head, a perception of himself of incompetence or insufficiency. Neuroscientists say that naturally, the whole human brain has this predisposition to place this feeling of incapacity and demerit. And, depending on the mental model and the way each one thinks, this can increase or decrease this belief, which can also be reinforced by the environment in which the person is. Like, for example, a high level of pressure in childhood.
What are the downsides of Impostor Syndrome? How can it limit people?
Those feelings of not belonging, not deserving or feelings of inadequacy can leads to a lot of procrastination derived from insecurity or other related feelings, also to self-sabotage actions that undermine chances of success in activities. Self-deprecation in speeches or thoughts and comparison to others can limit people in some many ways in their skills and talents and can progress to other disorders such as generalized anxiety and depression.
How can the experience of Impostor Syndrome impact how one treats others?
Despite the negative outcomes that some comments may have to a person suffering from this syndrome. I see this syndrome as an opportunity for people to connect. Many people have Impostor Syndrome and think they are the only ones. Often people who have Impostor Syndrome will look for ways to improve themselves and to be better at what they do.
We would love to hear your story about your experience with Impostor Syndrome. Would you be able to share that with us?
In my career I have always dealt with these feelings of being an impostor. Perhaps because of my appearance being considered attractive and because I am a woman I was always put down by the male supremacy around me. Working with men in leadership positions who later ended up harassing me or wanting something in return for having given me a job has always shaken confidence in my work and my merits. I remember that few times in my work I really feel worthy and that was when heterosexual women were involved. When I started writing scripts, for example, I worked with men and I was never sure of my writing skills and it took a straight woman from one of the largest production companies in Brazil to say that the script I had written was one of the best works that she read in her life, for me to believe in my power as a writer.
Did you ever shake the feeling off? If yes, what have you done to mitigate it or eliminate it?
I believe that meditation is one of the things that saved me most from my judgmental mind. But surely the power of true friendship often helps you to get out of this self-deprecating situation.
In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone who is experiencing Impostor Syndrome can take to move forward despite feeling like an “Impostor”? Please share a story or an example for each.
1 — Self-knowledge — Visiting a therapist, reading about psychology / self-help and checking if your thoughts really make sense are great tools to ward off the fragile ego.
2 — Self-love — I think if people really healed from their internal wounds and saw the life with love and compassion, they would solve most of their problems.
3 — Make a checklist routine — evaluate the work itself with a technical and external perspective.
4 — Ask for Feedback — asking for feedback from people who have contact with your work can help you get out of that state or can make you fall into reality.
5- Look at the competition. You can clearly observe the story of people who are in the same field as you. Most of them have a lot of failures. It helps to demystify this idea that people need to be totally perfect in what they do.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
If we committed ourselves every day in the morning to do three things: to thank what we have, to forgive everyone around us and to love without conditions, humanity would make a big step forward. But it is a daily effort to do these three things. We even need to write this on the alarm clock when we wake up.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-)
Right now I’ll love to have a conversation with Justin Baldoni about new ways of approaching leadership in the movie industry. He is doing a great job of deconstructing this misogynous and toxic straight man.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
My Instagram is @priscillaavila
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Thank you for this opportunity!!