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An idea for actor flex-time

July 11, 2011

There are two sides of the coin to living the actors’ life, with no “day job.”  On one side, there is no stability. On the other hand, there is extreme flexibility in the use of time.

So here’s an idea:

You’ve heard it before, but it’s true… volunteering can add so much to your life, especially as a professional working in what can be a very self-centered industry.

(Heck, even if you aren’t vain, as an actor, you spend an awful lot of time contemplating your look and brand).

So I encourage you to take the focus off yourself, at least once in a while, by volunteering.  I can guarantee you will return to your creative work with a new and useful outlook.

For the past two years, I’ve volunteered a day a week with hospice patients in the Bronx. This type of work isn’t for everyone, but it works for me and I feel honored to do it.  And I’ve learned so much from the friends I’ve made in hospice.

But you don’t need that level of commitment.  Even a day here or there, working on special projects is huge and important and special.  And New York City makes it really easy for you to volunteer. Their website: NYC Service lets you search for volunteer opportunities by location, commitment hours, and skill set.   And yes, singing, acting, writing, producing, dancing and even reading out loud are skills that are useful to volunteer organizations.

And before you ask: no, I’m not independently wealthy. I struggle to make rent each month like many of you. But I don’t see volunteering as a detraction from making a living (though time at hospice certainly puts the idea of money into a different perspective).

I know we have thousands of options to fill up our flexible actor-time. I hope you can consider volunteering in whatever capacity you can.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 11, 2011 10:04 am

    Oh I loooove volunteering! I volunteer as much as I can, as I currently only study and don’t seek work, I can do 2-3 days a week. I volunteer at the Actors Centre in London and I’m telling you, there is nothing more relaxing than getting away from my ‘survival job’ and serve coffee/drinks or usher the show. Not only it is a place to be, because you meet a lot of lovely fellow actors, you share tips and recommendations and the tutors and staff is so lovely and welcoming as well, but there is also a little cute library and I’ve never read more plays in my life than now. And also I’ve never seen so many shows in my life, because I couldn’t afford to go to the theatre, but if I usher it, I get to see it and it’s sooo inspirational. Another great thing is that as a volunteer you get credits for your shifts and you can pay your classes with them, which is just brilliant, I wouldn’t be able to do as many classes if it wasn’t of this.

    • July 12, 2011 2:26 pm

      That is cool. I love The Actors Centre.. Living in London for 6 years, I took a lot of classes there: cabaret (Paul L Martin is the best) scene study, etc. Even a comedy class with Prunella Scales!!! New York needs something like The Actors Centre. What a great idea to volunteer at that great organization! Well done.

  2. July 11, 2011 8:05 pm

    Great post! I volunteer to fill my flexible schedule, as well. I work with NY Cares and am a Big Sister. I agree, it’s a really great way to give back and get perspective on life outside of the biz. Awesome thing to bring up!

  3. California Triple-Threat permalink
    July 25, 2011 1:18 pm

    Thanks for this reminder- we all need to hear this.

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