11 Dope-Ass Women Who Have Suffered From Imposter Syndrome

Robin Pollock Daniel, the highest-ranked female Scrabble player in the world in 2006, once told psychologist and author Susan Pinker  “I care a lot about winning…that’s what distinguishes me from a lot of women.  I hate to lose…still, I go into every game and there’s a small female voice that says, You don’t belong here.  You’re fraudulent.” She went on to add, “it’s the female thing.” Although the phenomenon is by no means strictly experienced by women, it was initially noticed by women, about women, back in 1978.

The imposter syndrome was first documented by Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes in a study of 150 highly successful professional women in various fields.  “Despite accolades, rank, and salary, these women felt like phonies,” they concluded. “They didn’t believe in their own accomplishments; they felt they were scamming everyone about their skills.”

You may have experienced these feelings of fraudulence at some point in your life. Most of us have.


Related: 7 Ways To Cope With Imposter Syndrome When You Start A New Job


1. Meryl Streep

 GettyImages-588643850
Getty Images – Noam Galai

In a now-famous interview with filmmaker Ken Burns, the actress confessed she is plagued with self-doubt at the beginning of any new project. “You think, ‘Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?” Oh, keep in mind that she is the most Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated actor in history.

2. Emma Watson

GettyImages-528406624
Getty Images – Mike Coppola

The Harry Potter star skyrocketed to fame when she was 14, but that hasn’t made her any more comfortable with it over a decade later. “Now when I receive recognition for my acting, I feel incredibly uncomfortable. I tend to turn in on myself. I feel like an imposter,” she admits in a 2015 interview with Vogue UK. In that same interview, she described how her role as a U.N. Women goodwill ambassador helped combat this feeling, acting as an outlet providing purpose and “a sense of peace.”

3. Maya Angelou

GettyImages-50962320
Getty Images – Scott Eells

Internationally acclaimed writer, poet, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou once said, “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.'” ELEVEN BOOKS.

4. Kate Winslet

GettyImages-513201060
Getty Images – Gregg DeGuire

The incredibly talented Academy Award winner once told Interview magazine, “Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this. I’m a fraud. They’re going to fire me.”

5. Tina Fey

GettyImages-522493788
Getty Images – Mark Sagliocco

Producer, actress, writer, comic, Tina Fey once gave author Valerie Young a fairly accurate description of the wildly fluctuating proverbial other side of the imposter syndrome coin— “The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud.” She then went on to add, “I’ve realized that almost everyone is a fraud, so I try not to feel too bad about it.”

6. Jodie Foster

GettyImages-114293690
Getty Images – Yuji Ohsugi

In a 1999 interview with 60 Minutes, the Academy Award winner said she thought her Oscar win for The Accused was some sort of mistake. “I thought it was a big fluke. The same way when I walked on the campus at Yale, I thought everybody would find out, and then they’d take the Oscar back.” She went on to win her second Oscar for her next screen role as Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs.

7. Natalie Portman

GettyImages-591868008
Getty Images – Daniel Zuchnik

The actress and Harvard alumni recalled in last year’s Harvard Commencement Speech how she didn’t think she was smart enough to go to the university. “I felt like there had been some mistake, that I wasn’t smart enough to be in this company, and that every time I opened my mouth I would have to prove that I wasn’t just a dumb actress.”

8. Renee Zellweger

GettyImages-473390258
Getty Images – Mike Windle

Academy Award winner Renee Zellweger is returning to the big screen after a six-year hiatus from acting, and she’s only recently opened up about how scary that transition is. “I have imposter syndrome. Every day I’d be certain that this is the time you’re going to be figured out. This is the time you’re going to get fired, for sure. They’re going to know this time.” It probably doesn’t help that all these idiots are ragging about her physical appearance. Shut up, idiots.

9. Michelle Pfeiffer

GettyImages-180276224
Getty Images – D Dipasupil

The actress was once quoted as saying, “I still think people will find out that I’m really not very talented. I’m really not very good. It’s all been a big sham.” Lady, have you even watched Scarface?

10. Dr. Margaret Chan

GettyImages-152773790
Getty Images – Larry Busacca

World Health Organization chief Dr. Margaret Chan once said, “There are an awful lot of people out there who think I’m an expert. How do these people believe all this about me? I’m so much aware of all the things I don’t know.” A woman who single-handedly helped contain the Bird Flu epidemic thinks she’s not expert enough to do her job.

11. Diablo Cody

GettyImages-598019352
Getty Images – David Livingston

The screenwriter achieved enormous success with her first screenplay (Juno) and has publicly spoken about how her achievements- even six years later- did absolutely nothing to help squash her feelings of fraudulence. “Oh my God, it’s worse than ever!” she said in a 2013 interview with Vulture. “The only thing that makes me feel better is the realization that I’m surrounded by lots of other imposters.”

More: 15 Badass Women Who Got A Late Start In Their Careers And Still Crushed It

Share Tweet E-email