Actor with a Day Job: How To Synchronize Your Time With Your Dream

actor with a day jobTypically, there are three kinds of actors.

The first and most likely to succeed are those fortunate enough to be formally or classically trained or a graduate of a prestigious performing arts program. Congratulations, may you go forth and conquer.

All actors have heard illustrious tales of those who’ve been pushed through exclusive feeder systems, were delivered directly from “you-name-it” conservatory into movie stardom, and whose feet never touched the ground again.

While this is certainly awe-inspiring, it leaves something to be desired for the talented and good looking crowd who lack the same connections.

Then there are the graduates of a career related program such as – Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts, Media Studies, Journalism, or Communication – your chances are still good at life as an actor, though you may have found yourself faced with an industry learning curve.

And chances are, if you’re reading this article, you have.

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Like so many struggling actors you’re facing financial demands while finding suitable employment as an actor and fulfilling your vocational calling. So what do you do? And frankly, how do you proceed without compromising your starry-like traits and settling on a divergent path?

And then there is the final group, and this collection of well-intended and ambitious people deserve a hug, those who are without any training or education to help define their path. There is hope for this crew, but the truth is they need help, and more than a dash of luck.

It’s the latter two groups we’re going to concern ourselves most with here, because those two groups aren’t on the fast track to glory and often have to supplement the pursuit of their dream acting career with a day job.

The idea here, is that you want you to go from career hobbyist to consummate professional, while still paying your bills.

You Have to Commit to Your Readiness

Do yourself a favor and commit, or recommit, to being game day ready for all of the most important ‘acting calls’. Make peace with the reality that demo reels, gym memberships, and professional cosmetic kits have to be kept current with the same regularity as paying a mortgage.

It is for this reason, and with an unwavering belief in self, that an actor can assume the ubiquitous ‘day job’.

And, it makes sense then, that if you look the part, because you are in fact an actor, any form of employment must be a place where your personality also shines.

Suitable Work For Actors

Start by asking yourself the question – in what professional setting could I dutifully apply myself and still possess the energy to nurture my life as an actor?

A prime example of suitable work for an actor entails social media, and here is why.  A Social Media Manager, Strategist, etc. may do any of the following  – curate attractive images, communicate in a meaningful way through writing, or rely on data and intuitive sense of timing to schedule a campaign.

He may manage other people to produce content, or internally keep colleagues up-to-date.  The sum total of his efforts however, and it’s true value is the ability to capture large audiences! It makes sense that his enthusiasm is obvious to everyone around him and that the person who operates this way, also captures the same dynamism to achieve the employer’s goals.

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Actors, if you’re going to throw your weight behind anything other than an acting role, you may find home for your chatty personalities here!

Think Critically About the Environment and the Position

For career transitioners or older folk, who are welcomed at various theatre programs worldwide, is there anything you can do to groom your well being that also allows you to shift towards a full-time acting life?

Are there writing, project management, instructing or consulting opportunities that can be done part-time?actor day job

Be encouraged by the reality that professional authority can be a commodity as you are building an acting resume. Your day job experience should be anything but dreary, and should provide you, or at least leave you, with energy as well as momentum.

There once was an actress named Rebecca* who embodied the above examples. In short, she was bold. That’s not to say she exaggerated her credentials or professional worth. Ego clashing was rare, and bowling her colleagues over with indomitable charisma was also not her style.

What she did, and rather well, is that she stated her intentions when being hired for steady employment, at an advertising agency. She spoke frankly, and openly about her ability to do the job as well as her actress ambitions and activity. (I can only guess that she practiced her pitch at enough meetings, until it took).

The agency respected her, and she landed a high-paying, part time position.

While she in no way allowed her ambitions to affect her attitude, which is key, she achieved a legendary understanding among her peers. It was “cool” to be her. She was someone with vision who understood herself thoroughly.

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In this way, she orchestrated a set up for being taken seriously and that allowed her to pursue her dream.

Her position with the agency as a Creative Liaison, agreed with her personality and all the imaginable attributes of an actress. There was much dialogue involving her input and frequent visibility! Outside of the office, she then parlayed her contacts, which at times also came from the job, into increasingly impressive credits on her acting resume.

As an aside, all that networking led to a connection with her soul mate. And in yet another way, her financial health paid off, such that her wedding and family plans went off seamlessly.

Too many actors, even those whose names you know, go broke, suffer with depression, and have never managed to repeal the ego from sabotaging important relationships in one’s life.

Ultimately, the legendary Rebecca had to adjust her lifestyle to allow for her family. What this did not do however was stop the flow of opportunity or the residual effect of her early foundation.

She was last seen on the red carpet for a feature film at a festival in Berlin.

Final Thought

So, looking the part, thriving in your daily life, committing to being good at it and paying your bills means you’ve got ‘the acting thing’ covered.  If you have found yourself in the real world of work, you are simply setting the stage in the same way someone prepares to go to law school, or start their own business, or anything else.

It’s not duplicitous, it’s smart. And it sets you up to emerge from your employment to life as a professional actor.

Give yourself some credit while you nurture your ambitions. Make your transition as seamless as possible, knowing that you can and you will. Break a leg!

*Name has been changed.

Geniene Lane is a top-selling Pop Vocal Recording Artist, an Actress, an Entrepreneur and a member of the Screen Actors Guild.  She lives in Miami, FL.  Follow her on LinkedIn.

 

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Comments

  1. I am a singer with a Master’s in education. I write songs and stories, movie ideas, have an actor and entertainer’s heart. I have been in radio and can do voice-overs and commercials, songs for a movie, etc. I speak both English and Spanish fluently and can perform in both. Any ideas for me?

    • Geniene Lane says:

      Hi K Steven!

      Thank you for sharing your story, and your concerns I find are common in the entertainment industry. Especially identifying the entertainers heart. Congratulations, because that’s the most important thing you need to know!

      It’s great that you are working with a high level of education which should provide you with leverageable opportunities to consistently work on your own terms. Since you have many talents, it sounds like what you seek is a hard application of a skill or skills that support you continuously. You may be moonlighting as an actor if it doesn’t reward you as often as those other talents can.

      The good news is, everything you’ve described (singing and radio) is related to the talent required to thrive as an actor. So choose! Decide what you want to be working on, that will allow you to live comfortably, that you can walk away from at a moment’s notice (this is the reality), and that you’d feel comfortable talking about with family, spouse, colleagues and peers.

      As long as you can maintain, verbally, that you are an actor with a relevant, related occupation, you can network your way into end goals such as landing a role after meeting a producer, or interesting a financier in your film, much more efficiently than if your intentions are scattered. Make sense?

      The alternative of course is to scrap all random activity, and throw all your weight behind getting appointments and meeting the right people, even if means living out of your car.

      Not the craziest thing, in Hollywood. You wouldn’t be the first actor to pull this off. If you choose,however, to avoid this then it is now more crucial than ever to have an enriched daytime “act” that you circulate within.

      Your case is excellent for generating options, so to name a few:

      The benefits of teaching in your case may outweigh the conflict of deviating from your acting career. With the proper support, or an exit strategy if need be!, it CAN keep you affable and emotionally limber with a crisp veneer of professionalism. All of which resonate at auditions. Get your partner or spouse to spend as much time with you socially in the company of media and entertainment peers. STAY. FRESH,

      Is there a subject you feel enthusiastically enough about to operate a podcast as a precursor to an on-air talent role? Warning, there is no shortage of optimistic fluff about monetizing our online activities. While “monetization” is a real avenue, turning a profit with your podcast is another job in itself. ONLY do this if you are cozy enough with radio personnel you’ve worked with, to interest someone in your personality, following or expertise. A 3-month lead is long enough to broach the subject and don’t forget to inform your media contacts along your way.

      As a Spanish speaker, I cannot think of a hotter market than pursuing Latin American (LATAM) television and film. Being castable in English and Spanish is a plus to agents who serve both English and Spanish speaking studios which reside in U.S, cities. The only hotter market to date may be the explosion of streaming services offering original programs, who need productions, that need actors! Connect with independent filmmakers of Spanish language films via social media.

      Finally, research every screenwriting contest in the country, learning their rules, the submission process, who their previous contenders were, as well as outcomes.

      And you know as well as I know, that if you fall in love with that process, it won’t make a hill of beans of difference what you’re doing to pay the rent!

      And that my dear ….. is all she wrote.

      Geniene

  2. I am a SAG/AFTRA artist looking for film work in NYC and LA.

    I have worked with Robert Redford and others in the past and took time out to raise a daughter
    while working as a television anchor, markeing director, and more.

    I would enjoy speaking with someone regarding options and availble roles.

    Please know I did work on “Young and the Restless,” Days of Our Lives,” and “General Hospital.”

  3. I am a singer with a Master’s in Bilingual education. I write songs and poems, Children shows ideas, have an actor and entertainer’s heart. I have been a lead character in plays and can do voice-overs and commercials, songs for a movie, etc. I speak both English and Spanish fluently and can perform in both. I am a published Author of Sacred Thoughts and Knotted Knowledge. Any ideas for me?

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  1. […] Unfortunately, the world is not a wish-granting factory and that means you are going to need to get a job that will allow you to pay the bills while also synchronizing with your dreams. […]

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