Why Emma Stone Is a Poster Child for ‘Imposter Syndrome’

September 20, 2017, 6:48 PM UTC

Emma Stone might be one of the world’s most influential people—and its highest-paid actress—but like many successful women, she still suffers from “imposter syndrome.”

Speaking on a panel in New York City on Tuesday afternoon, the actress revealed that despite her talent, she still doesn’t quite feel deserving of her platform.

“I’m still finding my voice,” she told the audience at the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative’s annual Leadership Luncheon in New York City. “I’m still afraid a lot, and I’m afraid of my voice, I’m afraid of the mistakes I’ve made that mean not allowed to learn and grow and be outspoken,” she said. “I sometimes feel like an imposter, and think, ‘Why do I deserve to be here?'”

Imposter syndrome, a term coined in 1978 by Georgia State University psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, describes a belief—often observed in accomplished women—that one’s talents are overvalued by others. Those who experience the syndrome are unable to internalize their achievements (which they write off as luck) and are afraid of being exposed as frauds.

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That feeling doesn’t go away, according to tennis legend Billie Jean King, now 73. “I’m always afraid. I think I finally found my voice…but I always feel like I’m on a tightrope,” she said.

Stone plays King in Battle of the Sexes, a biopic that culminates in King’s infamous 1973 match against Bobby Riggs.