Why Do You Act?


By Marci Liroff

I’m sure you all saw Will Smith on the first episode of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” a few weeks ago. You probably remember him dancing with Fallon and showing us the evolution of hip-hop dancing. It was hilarious. But the real gem was buried within the interview. They were talking about fame, and Fallon asked Smith if it ever got scary for him. Smith replied that it can, especially now that his kids are coming into the business. “But I tell them…keep loving people. The thing is to make sure with your art that it is a gift to people to help their lives be better and brighter. What happens a lot of times when you see people fail in this business is that they’re in it for their ego, and they start doing it for them. It’s like, no, you’re trying to help people get through a day.” I see a lot of actors wrestling with this lately. I think they’ve lost sight of why they do this in the first place. The daily excitement of getting an audition, prepping for it, and going on the call has been replaced by disappointment (“I didn’t book it!”) and unrealized expectations. I’ve noticed several acting coaches and life coaches encouraging you to “live the red carpet life” and “get A-listed.”

Is that really why you became an actor, to get on a red carpet at a premiere? Should that be your goal? Should that even be your frame of mind? I say no. I say reject that message.

I want you to ask yourself why you became an actor. Why do you act? I asked this on my Facebook page recently and instructed folks to answer from their heart, not their head. I got some truly inspiring answers that might help you reconnect to the core reason you became an actor in the first place. Here are a few: “I’m an actor because I refuse to live inside of the box.” “I act to make a story come to life and hopefully trigger some emotional connection with the audience.” “My 6 1/2-year-old son said, ‘It’s my passion…who I am.’ ” “Because I need to be an actor.” “To move people through storytelling.” “To tell stories that offer comfort in this chaos.” “It is like breathing.” “Because I can’t not act. It’s too painful.” For me, it’s always been about the work. You are artists and born storytellers. When you lose sight of that and start thinking about being famous, you’ve already shifted your alignment with your art. Get back on track and ask yourself, “Why do I act?” I’d love to hear your answers! 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. Marci

Inside The World Of A Casting Director – Part 3

By Marci Liroff

In Part 3 of this series I talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of being a casting director along with finding balance in your life. Good advice for all walks of life!

“What does a Casting Director actually do?” Well, I’m here to tell you all about it! Joy Wingard wrote to me from college saying she’s interested in being a casting director and wanted to know what really goes on in the world of casting.  Since I was crazy busy, I asked her to jot down a few questions and I’d answer them over the ensuing weeks.  She asked quite a few insightful questions that I wanted to share with you all. 

Q: What do you enjoy the most & the least about being a CD?

A: The most?  Getting a script and lovingly working with the filmmakers to put together a fantastic cast.  Finding someone new, or thinking of someone for a part that is totally outside the box and getting my team on board and hiring them.
Making the call to the agent/mgr and actor to say “you’ve got the part!” brings me such joy!
Another part I truly love is working with the actors. I love to help them create a great character and guiding them through the audition process.

Enjoy the least?  The politics.  There are way too many politics involved in my job. Enough said.

Also, it’s not my favorite thing to negotiate with a lawyer. In the old days (when I first started) I’d negotiate with the agent. Nowadays, the agent hands it off to the client’s lawyer and I’m spending days on end going back and forth with the lawyer. Seems to me that’s Business Affairs’ job.

Q:  I understand having passion for a job and loving it enough to embrace it wholeheartedly and spend most of your time doing it, but do you find that you’re able to have enough time away from the job to embrace a life outside of work?

A: Finding a balance between work and your “life” is key to any career.  For me, even when I’m not officially working, I keep my eyes peeled – I’m always ‘looking’ in a sense.  When I’m reading a magazine, the newspaper or online, I’m constantly clipping out (or bookmarking) articles about actors on the rise and adding them to my database.

But, you do have to know how to totally “unplug” and live your life or you will be just a shell of a person!  This holds true for an actor.  Whenever I meet an actor who feels burnt out or wants to walk away, I tell them to make sure to do something you love.  You need inspiration from somewhere right?  Go to the beach, a concert, kick up your heels and go dancing, paint, be with your kids, dogs, loved ones, cook, eat great food, meditate. How can you be an actor (or a great person) if you’re not living a full life?

Do you have any questions for me? Feel free to ask them here!

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Glad you’re here!