Universe 2
By Marci Liroff

One of my Skype coaching clients in the North Carolina market raised a very good question the other day: “Is taking all work offered necessarily a good thing?”

She wrote, “I’m wondering your opinion on this. About two years ago, I decided that I wanted to work on quality projects and not just collect credits. Many regional actors have the mentality that more is better and thrive on the attention they get from posting about their projects on social media. I know some just want to work. But I feel we won’t raise the bar if we take these poor-quality, poorly written unprofessional jobs. I get outstanding film and TV auditions weekly. You helped me with two of them.

“Am I making a mistake by saying no to the opportunities that I feel I’ve moved on from? I am a professional actor and I feel these projects would detract from the quality work I have done and I’m capable of. Some of my friends, who are very talented, seem to think ‘work is work’ and ‘work begets work.’ I understand that, but is it at the cost of not getting the really professional projects?”

This is such a timely discussion. Yes, I do believe work begets work on several levels. It gets you out there and seen within the community in which you want to continue working. There are networking opportunities. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into a producer or director with whom I haven’t worked in a while when I’m working on a studio lot, and it results in a job offer. Sometimes you literally have to be standing in front of them to remind them that you exist! I also strongly believe in the momentum and energy created in the universe when you are actually doing the work, not just talking about the work.

The universe listens and often rewards you.

That said, I think you have to go with your gut on this one in terms of whether you think a project is of poor quality all around. Being seen in that light can actually be harmful and doesn’t necessarily bring you anything good. When I see a film, short, Web series, or what is obviously a self-produced project, and it’s poorly conceived and unprofessionally completed, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth for everyone concerned with the project.

Don’t forget that this kind of work also has the potential to harm your psyche and your spirit creatively.

If you’re going into auditions and projects with a chip on your shoulder about the quality of the project, it affects your performance.

You have to look at the whole picture and glean whether you’ll be learning something, either from associating with like-minded and uber-talented people or from playing a character you normally wouldn’t have the chance to.

There really isn’t one solid answer or rule of thumb here. There are so many things to consider in your choice. Yes, it’s your choice, and don’t forget that.

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year. 

Glad you’re here! 

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  1. Marci,

    What a TERRIFIC topic and your answer – trusting our gut – is a great one. I also think the answer can also be found in where we are in our careers (early / mid / late) as well as how we’re APPROACHING projects.

    What I mean by approaching a project is simply the answer to the question, “Why do I want this job?” I had a great mentor once tell me there are really just three core reasons to take a project:
    1. Because it speaks to you;
    2. Because it offers you a chance to learn/sharpen a skill or have a new experience;
    3. Because there’s someone involved in the project you want to work with or learn from.

    I’ve found that when I take a job that doesn’t satisfy one of those three criteria, it rarely satisfies me. Early on, working to work was necessary to learn lots of skills, meet people and gain experience. Now that I’m a bit older, I find that having a framework to make decisions is incredibly helpful for those times when my gut and my brain are either at odds or perhaps I’m just unsure. Of course all of this is just my .02, and I hope it resonates with someone else.

    Thanks again for the great topic and all of your insights!



  2. First of all, you’re awesome, Marci. Thanks for all you do. Secondly, thanks to Rob and that outstanding reply. I’ll definitely take all that information to heart and it’ll stay with me for future projects. And lastly… My favorite two lines from your post, Marci, are: “Sometimes you literally have to be standing in front of them to remind them that you exist! I also strongly believe in the momentum and energy created in the universe when you are actually doing the work, not just talking about the work.”

    LESS TALK. MORE ACTION. Thanks for that reminder. 🙂

    Look forward to the next post! Cheers!

  3. Of course it’s okay. The more tricky question, in my opinion, is how honest you should be about why you’re turning it down. You can always say you’re not available, of course; but if you have an ideological or personal conflict about the content — cigarette smoking, child abuse, etc. — I should think most people would understand and respect your firm if respectful stated reasons.

    On the other hand, if you suspect the quality or working conditions are not going to be up to your standards, a little white lie might be in order. (If you have an agent, you should be totally honest about all of the above with him or her.) What’s essential, though, is that it’s always your choice and your decision. And if you should find yourself caught in one of those unpleasant jobs, always be polite, responsive, and professional anyway, because a reputation for being a good person to work with will ultimately shine more brightly and lastingly, and get you farther, than some less-than-ideal footage from a lousy job that doesn’t make you feel proud.

  4. Very inspiring read, I really appreciate the advice that you present in an engaging and authentic manner. It’s applicable to me as a filmmaker as well. I’m especially appreciative that you talk in terms of momentum and energy, which I’ve found to be an especially apt way of evaluating how different jobs can help with careers. The entertainment industry is very much an internal battle to stay on top of networking opportunities and important relationships.


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