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 The daily excitement of getting an audition, prepping for it, and going on the call has been replaced by disappointment (“I didn’t book it!”)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


  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE your article!!!!! You MUST love the art of acting. All the red carpet stuff and A list is not what it is about. If that happens…then great…but just the thrill of performing…weather it be on stage, and audition, filming or when you are in the rehearsal process for a scene that you are doing in class. It’s all about the LOVE of the craft and the acting within itself. All the other stuff will come or may not come. It’s up to you!!!!!!

  2. The reason that I act is because its a way for me to express myself through storytelling. Since I was a child, acting has always been inside of me. I love to perform. I love the long days of traveling to auditions, preparing for auditions, traveling to set, working hard at perfecting the art and building great working relationships with my fellow actors. I am not in this to be rich and famous. I am not in this to be in a tabloid. I’m in this just to be good at something that I love.

  3. I truly love this article; it made me pause to think about my motivations for why I pursue my passion: I act because it is the most present that I ever am in my life. I connect with people in a different way when acting and find myself trusting my vulnerability, my sense of humor, and my impulses more than when I go through day-to-day tasks. It is the time when I truly feel my humanity and it is the lens through which I appreciate the humanity and unique stories of others. Acting is my way of processing the world and understanding my place in it.

  4. Joseph Mammina says

    This was my favorite article and the reason being is that it struck a cord deep inside me.. The reason I act is simple really. Its not for fame, money or recognition… and truth be known I actually don’t like to draw attention to myself. The whole reason I act is and always will be that it allows me to create and be creative and that is the whole reason. I have acted for money, I have acted for free and neither changes my perspective or dedication to allowing myself to become that character in that moment of time… and when I am done and look back I am happy that I had the chance but always feel I can do better which keeps me on and on to the next project just over that next hill… As hard as it is and it is a lot of work, I truly love it.
    Joseph Mammina

  5. As an actor I always thought of myself as a mirror for the audience to see themselves in. Whether through my character’s failures, triumphs, disappointment, joy, for me acting has always been about connecting to people in a unique way that makes them look at themselves through the truth of my characters. Maybe to realize there’s something about themselves they need to change or something about themselves they need to love more…
    This is the effect that good actors have on me. When they do something incredibly well and honest and I’m drawn to it, it’s because I see myself in whatever they’re doing. And I realize there are things about myself I need to do something about. Hope this makes sense.


  6. Really nice article, Marci, and thanks for asking. My life is guided by a need and desire for freedom. I believe that everyone on earth deserves to experience freedom, and that overcoming our fears is the best way to achieve that. I’m committed to living my life, both on camera and off, in the front seat of the roller coaster, hands in the air, eyes wide open. That’s why I act. To teach the world that fearlessness is freedom.

  7. JAy-Ann South says

    I want to act because I have always loved the idea of being another person and that’s how I express myself.


  1. […] can also take another path. In my article “Why Do You Act?,” I talked about Will Smith being asked by Jimmy Fallon if fame can ever be scary. His reply was […]

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