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 The daily excitement of getting an audition, prepping for it, and going on the call has been replaced by disappointment (“I didn’t book it!”)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!
Known for her work in film and television, Casting Director Marci Liroff has worked with some of the most successful directors in the world such as Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Mark Waters, Christopher Nolan, Brad Bird, and Herbert Ross. While working at Fenton-Feinberg Casting, she, along with Mike Fenton, cast such films as “A Christmas Story," “Poltergeist," “E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial," “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," and “Blade Runner." After establishing her own casting company in 1983, Liroff cast “Footloose," “St. Elmo's Fire," “Pretty in Pink," “The Iron Giant," “The Spitfire Grill," “Untamed Heart," “Freaky Friday," “Mean Girls," “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past," “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” “Vampire Academy,” and the upcoming “The Sublime and Beautiful,” which she produced as well.
Liroff is also an acting coach, and her three-night Audition Bootcamp has empowered actors to view the audition process in a new light. The class spawned an an online course available at Udemy entitled "How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp".
Photo by Doug Hac.