Day Jobs: Paying the Bills While Pursuing Your Dreams
The following post was sent out to the Actor’s Fund participants as part of their ”Jobs Bulletin” last month, but I think it’s an important accompaniment to this post I did not long after the event referenced and that readers here – actors and others pursuing “dream jobs” – would get a lot of value from it. Please feel free to post your comments below the post.
As many of you already know, attaining success as an actor often depends upon being able to stick at it for long enough to get that “just right” opportunity or to weather the dry seasons between right opportunities. It was my pleasure to give the keynote talk at the Educational Opportunities Fest and Education Fair in June, where I gave the attendees advice on identifying and creating a side pursuit or even a parallel career that is compatible to their acting. Here are some of the key points from my talk:
Decide right now that you are going to find a supplementary source of income that will work with your acting career and provide you some stability and personal satisfaction. You are not too old or too unqualified or too whatever. You can and you will do it.
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Recognize what you already have.
Between your acting-related skills and your work experience, you already have marketable skills. From acting alone, you have communications skills, improvisational skills, listening skills, and probably some ability to read people. If you’ve managed to develop a following using the web, you also have computer skills and social media skills. If you’ve been producing your own content, such as a web series, you also have project management skills.
Think broadly at first.
Don’t try to pick a job title if that’s too daunting. Just identify what you like to do and what you’re good at and then explore options. Ask trusted friends and professional mentors what they could see you doing, or what jobs they know about that utilize X, Y, and Z skills. Go online and do Google broad searches like, “social media jobs in Los Angeles” or “professional training programs in Los Angeles.” Think like a detective and follow the paths that seem most appealing.
Consider going back to school.
Once you identify jobs that you are interested in, consider getting further education. It doesn’t have to be a traditional degree program (though it can be). It can be as simple as learning a new computer program or as extensive as getting an MBA.
Be a small business owner.
Even if you are looking for a job within an organization and not freelance work, you should consider your career a small business. Always look for ways to diversify to bring in new revenue streams. Keep existing skills current and learn new ones. Network and create win-win relationships with others. Anticipate changes in the industry and be proactive in adjusting your path to reflect them. You are probably already treating your acting career this way, but you need to broaden it out to your professional career as a whole.
The idea here is to create a livelihood that allows you to have the life you want, whether you fulfill your childhood dream or not. And acting itself might be more joyful and go better when you are not relying on it as your sole source of income or enduring a day job you don’t like in order to pursue it.
Photo by Bob Jagendorf
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