The Brilliant Way Star Wars’ Daisy Ridley Beats Anxiety
"My cortisol was so high that my body was constantly in fight-or-flight."
Daisy Ridley is a 25-year-old actress who, in addition to being absolutely stunning and insanely talented, has the coveted lead role in one of the most successful movie franchises of all time. You would think, then, that she would be riding high and feeling on top of the world. But in a candid cover story for the January issue of Glamour, Ridley revealed that the pressure of entering a role as enormous as Rey in the new Star Wars trilogy brought with it a wave of insecurity and anxiety:
“I did this test in January of last year, and [the doctors] said my body should be 30 percent stress, 70 percent normal,” she said. “I was 70 percent stress and 30 percent normal. My cortisol was so high, or something like that, that my body was constantly in fight-or-flight.”
It wasn’t just the pressure of being an iconic role model for a new generation of women that was stressing her out either. Like many women, Ridley suffers from Imposter Syndrome—an inability to internalize accomplishments and a fear of being outed as a “fraud”—despite her many accomplishments. In the interview, Ridley told Glamour writer Allison P. Davis that when the legendary actor/director Kenneth Branagh hired her for his adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, she “felt a little bit insecure about that, because I didn’t feel like I was good enough for it,” and even asked Branagh if someone made him hire her.
On top of that she suffers from body-image insecurities. Ridley has been open in the past about dealing with endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome—two extremely common disorders among women—and in particular the skin problems they’ve given her. Last year, she shared an Instagram post in which she said that at one point her skin was so bad that she couldn’t leave the house without makeup, and “feeling so self conscious has left my confidence in tatters.” You won’t find that photo now, however, because Ridley deleted her account after a particularly bad bit of trolling.
“I was on Instagram, trying to do that whole thing, and people weren’t very nice,” she said. “I posted a thing about gun regulations, because I was at an event in tribute to the Orlando shooting at Pulse [where 49 people were killed and over 50 were wounded]. People weren’t nice about how I looked. And I was like, ‘I’m out’…I’m just not equipped for it. I’m super sensitive—not too sensitive—but I really feel things.”
In fact, if there’s one thing Ridley wishes people would understand about her, it’s that in spite of her fame and success, she still just feels like a regular person with regular problems, like stress and low self-esteem.
“People can get a bit like, ‘Oh my God, your life is different than mine.’ But no, it’s not. Everyone’s got the same problems. We all get jobs, and we lose them. We have a good time, and we don’t have a good time. That’s it, you know?'”
So, how does she deal with her anxiety? She follows the sage advice off the late, great Carrie Fisher, who reminded her that it’s normal to feel this way and that everyone is struggling and just doing their best.
“Carrie Fisher said, ‘You know when people come up to you for a picture?’ And I was like, ‘Isn’t it really intimidating?’ She told me she hugged a fan once and [felt the fan’s] heart was racing. She was like, ‘That’s what you have to remember: It’s nerve-racking for everyone.'”
And she gave her another good piece of advice, which was to find her own special way of combatting these inconvenient feelings.
“I guess, in essence, [Fisher’s advice was]: You do you. She said that you can deal with things your own way. She chose to deal with things with humor, which isn’t how I deal with things, but that’s OK. You can serve yourself in many, many ways, do it however the hell you want, and succeed massively. And it’s all good.”
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