Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Actors' Gotta Eat

As glamorous as it may seem, it's actually difficult being an actor. You must be free and available and ready and waiting for those impending auditions and castings… Waiting being the operative word here.

A good friend of mine has decided to ‘Make It In America’. They will fly out to L.A for pilot season in January, partly because they felt nothing was really happening work wise for them in the UK. The result? They have filmed a commercial and a Feature Film with a very notable director in this past week alone. Typical! They are landing jobs just as they're about to leave the country!

It’s the same feeling we have as actors if we take on a fulltime job; will we get castings and be unable to make them?

It is very rare to find a non-acting job that is entirely flexible. Some employers start out with good intentions saying you can have the time off when needed but then when it comes to the crunch they cannot spare you the time. “What about temping???” I hear you say: Well temping jobs may not work out as you give your availability in advance, and you may get last minute auditions so you won’t know in advance. So once you have a contract you can’t not turn up as you’ll be deemed unreliable, and the agency may not use you again.

I do know of a company that employed two actors on a job share so whenever one had a job the other would cover. I spent sometime there myself; the people there were great. However circumstances changed and they now employ one full-time non-actor.

I understand why once an actor get a regular acting gig, say in a ‘soap’ or musical, they find it hard to leave, as they won’t know where their next cheque will come from and at least the work is career-related. If we are actors by profession should we have to work ‘other’ jobs? The sad truth is the majority of the time the answer is Yes, if we want to eat that is. Typically the big paydays are few and far between, but those bills still need paying and aren’t going to wait for that lucrative commercial to come through.

However, most actors do manage to juggle the money job and the career just fine. But does for example working nights and weekends or being known as an office worker or waitress leave them feeling demeaned?

There are also many people who spend good money training at Drama School or University to then give up on acting because they can’t give up the security and regular income of the 9 to 5.

All I know is I’ve wanted to act for as long as I can remember and so help me I will not fall into that trap. Things come along to keep my head above water and I can concentrate on the things that matter to me most.

There is a saying that goes something like this: Everything You Do in Life Will Either Move You Towards Your Goals or Take You Away From Them, Nothing is Neutral.

Here, here.

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