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Naomi Watts on Identity and Self Esteem

In the new movie “Fair Game,” Naomi Watts portrays Valerie Plame, a CIA agent whose identity was revealed by Bush White House officials to discredit her former ambassador husband for investigating and finding false the story of Niger selling uranium to Iraq, thus justifying the war.

Watts keeps getting stronger, more nuanced and emotionally complex, and is very intense and authentic here in depicting such a meaningful person in history.

She has grown into her strengths and identity as an artist over many years. It is a process for all of us.

There is a line in her movie “Ellie Parker” (2005) in which she starred and also produced: “You can’t be yourself because you’re always being judged.”

The film is about an actress trying to get a start in Los Angeles, played by Watts, and that sort of uncertainty of identity and insecurity affects many artists on the way to establishing themselves, but may be especially intense for actors who need to keep recreating who they are in auditions and roles.

Naomi Watts commented about the authenticity of the film in an interview article [Art Imitates Life for Watt’s Ellie Parker, by Paul Fischer,], noting that Scott Coffey, the film’s director was, like Watts herself, “a struggling actor for many years as well and he’d gone through years of those horrible auditions, losing your dignity and being told who you are and believing it because of your self-esteem levels.”

The Psych Central article Building Self-Esteem By Lynn Ponton, MD, summarizes: “Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself as a person. Those with high self-esteem believe that they are adequate, strong and worthy of a good life, while those with low self-esteem feel inadequate and worthless.”

The article notes, “Many people base their self-esteem on external factors, such as… whether people like and appreciate them.”

In creative fields such as acting, performing, even writing books, public reaction can have a big impact on self-regard.

Even for us not-so-public bloggers: I would not be so energized to keep doing this kind of unpaid writing (here and on my main sites) if there weren’t so many positive responses – which indicate the posts are valuable, and which also helps keep my self-regard more positive than not.

Watts says is acting is so addictive “because you love what you do. You can’t give it up.”

But, she adds, “It’s the other stuff that’s horrible — the exposing yourself,” referring to the often debilitating audition process that she embarked upon for almost a decade prior to her attention-grabbing role in David Lynch’s film Mulholland Drive.

“That’s what Ellie Parker is more about,” she explains, “not just about the acting experiences, auditions, managers, agents and stuff, but about a young woman who is putting too much emphasis on other people’s opinions of herself, and therefore wrapping up her own identity in these people who couldn’t possibly know who she was.

“So that struggle for integrity and identity is more of what we were trying to say.”

Naomi Watts on Identity and Self Esteem

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2010). Naomi Watts on Identity and Self Esteem. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 20, 2019, from


Last updated: 13 Nov 2010
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