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What Ruth Bader Ginsburg can teach you about stage fright


Few people know that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a high school cheerleader and baton twirler. She was known for being an active and persistent questioner on the bench but in social settings she deferred to her beloved outgoing and jovial husband. People who did not know her well often thought she was shy and withdrawn. 

So how did she become such an outspoken cultural icon? In Ginsburg’s NY Times obituary, Linda Greenhouse writes, “It was not so much that there were two sides to her personality, as it might have appeared, as that her innate shyness simply disappeared when she had a job to do. She once recalled that before her first Supreme Court argument, she was so nervous that she did not eat lunch ‘for fear that I might throw up.’ But about two minutes into the argument, ‘the fear dissolved,’ she said. She realized she had a ‘captive audience’ of the most powerful judges in America and ‘I felt a surge of power that carried me through.’”

So how does this relate to stage fright when auditioning or making a speech? The next time you are in front of important people – auditioning for a casting director or giving a presentation to a group of your peers at work – be very prepared and then - like Ruth Bader Ginsburg - enjoy your “captive audience” –channel your inner cheerleader or baton twirler and remember how much you love what you do. Feel that surge of power that comes from doing something you love. 


Catherine Russell 

Russell Acting Studio 


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