Earning money when between acting jobs

Earn money between acting jobs
Photo Credit: Ken Teegardin via cc
It’s a sad but depressing fact that at any one time around 90% of actors are out of work, and only 5% of the remaining ten percent make a living from acting alone. So how on earth do we actors make a living when ‘resting’ between acting jobs?
90% of actors are out of work at any one time, and only 5% of the remaining 10% make a living from acting alone
When you first start out in the acting world or being trained at drama school you may hear the advice from tutors or professionals that ‘you should get yourself an additional trade’. How right they are! Or the subject of getting yourself another trade never actually comes up and you are under the impression that you will always be working on the stage and the telly and the money will just keep rolling in. The truth is that you will need to have another string to your bow, especially at the start of your acting career or even for most of it.
Whether it be hairdressing, joinery, IT, catering or front of house, your other trade will keep the wolves from the door when acting work is hard to find. So if you are thinking about taking acting seriously, get yourself a part time trade that’s there for you, waiting in the wings. Chances are that in the beginning of your acting career, you are going to earn more money doing your day job than appearing on stage or TV. You also need to find a trade that you are going to like doing, make sure it’s bearable because you may be doing this work ‘day in day out’ until your next acting opportunity arises.
Your work also needs to be able to pay well, to cover not only your living costs but the additional expenses you need as an actor. Travelling to auditions, worskshops, plays, theatre tickets, headshots and Spotlight subscriptions. They all add up and can be very expensive for a part time employee. But most important of all, your part time trade needs to be flexible enough so you can attend an audition at short notice or be ‘in limbo’ while you go off on a six month theatre tour. Good flexible jobs are out there but are rare and hard to find.
If you are ‘actor trained’ you should already be fully equipped with skills that will help you find work. Your communication skills should be second to none. That’s why lots of actors find themselves in customer service roles. We are naturals at it. Your improvisation skills will enable you to assess a customer almost immediately, their background, class and whether they are having a good or bad day, essential in all customer service work. You will be able to respond to customers and colleagues appropriately whether it be behind a bar or at a reception desk. You will find your drama training has prepared you for far more than you originally thought.
This struggle to find another trade is a very important and fundamental part of an actors survival and should be part of any drama school curriculum or at least be at the front of any actors mind. So what is out there for us jobbing actors that will pay the bills, yet still be fexible enough to allow us to tread the boards? Click on the link below to read some options that you might want to consider.