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The Actor Work Week: 40 Hours?

February 20, 2012

Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how, if you want acting to be your full-time job, you need to work at it like it is one, i.e. spend at least 40 hours a week on it. I’ve always agreed with this idea in theory, but secretly thought that 40 hours a week might be an overly ambitious target.

So, out of sheer curiosity, I decided to log all of the hours I spent solely on my career this week, as a measure of how well I was doing at making this a full-time kinda gig. So here’s a breakdown of what my week was like:


EPA: 4 hours

Last-minute audition! = learning sides, changing looks, and attending: 3 hours

Scene rehearsal & prep: 2 hours

Submitting to projects: 1 hour

TOTAL: 10 hours


Learning new monologue: ½ hour

EPA 3 hours

Memorizing scene: 3 hours

Booked studio space: ½ hour

Submitting to projects: 1 hour

Monitor for CD class: 3 hours

TOTAL: 11 hours


Memorizing scene: 1 hour

Agent meeting: 2 ½ hours

Scene rehearsal: 1 hour

Submitting to projects: 1 hour

TOTAL: 5 ½ hours


Practice singing: 1 hour

Scene rehearsal w/ coach: 2 hours

Submitting to projects: 1 hour

Practice singing: 1 ½ hours

Industry research: 1 hour

TOTAL: 5 ½ hours


Practice singing: 1 hour

Voice lesson: 2 hours

Agent meeting 1 hour

Submitting to projects: 1 hour

Series of calls and emails scheduling meetings next week: ½ hour

TOTAL: 5 ½ hours


Updating website, working on newsletter: 1 hour

TOTAL: 1 hour


Audition: 1 ½ hours

Twitter networking throughout the week: 1 hour

Wrote a blog post: 1 hour

Read new play for book club: 2 hours

TOTAL: 5 ½ hours

***WEEKLY TOTAL: 44 hours***

Woo hooooo! That’s right, baby.

Now I will grant that this past week was a particularly busy one, with lots of meetings and auditions. But on slower weeks, I do spend a lot more time on maintenance issues like updating my resume, writing my newsletter and website “latest news” posts, sending mailings, and on things like learning new monologues and reading plays for book club. So I think my weeks generally balance out in that way.

I’d also like to note that none of these hours include running my “survival business” or any of the large amount of time I spend working as editor of this lovely blog. I’m sure all of you artistic types know what I’m talking about when I say that it just burns me up to find out that “civilians” think actors are lazy.

I guess what I’ll take away from this is that I’m working pretty damn hard so I should stop beating myself up for not accomplishing more. So…what about you? Have you ever tracked your hours for a week? What did you discover?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2012 11:25 am

    Oh my word, for a while after I finished my apprenticeship it went like this:


    8am-9am Workout for photo shoot
    10 am-6 pm Christmas Carol rehearsal
    6 pm-8pm audition prep/submissions
    9-11 Miler High Life promotions (Hey. It’s the champagne of beers.)

    Total Hours 65


    9-12 Teach theatre classes
    3 pm-2 am Cater dinner for President Bush Sr (Thank you, philadelphia)

    Total hours 14


    3-9 Callback

    Total hours 6

    Now that includes survival jobs, but not auditions and photoshoots. That’s an 85 hour work week–what am I a lawyer? I have a much better balance now, but yeah, especially if you are supporting yourself in a big city, actors are definitely NOT lazy.

  2. The Practical Artist permalink
    February 21, 2012 9:52 am

    I hope this post reaches the people it needs to; I hear so many people who say “I’m an Actor” but can’t even remember the last audition they attended, don’t have decent headshots, and/or refuse to take class. I believe these Posers are why “civilians” believe all actors to be so lazy. Being an Actor – being anything in this crazy Industry – takes a dedication that exceeds “reasonable” work hours. One must endure the survival job for financial security, but work at their Artistic Career with the same fervor and determination you’ve just described. You, Redhead, are an Actor. This career – practiced properly – demands respect.

    • February 21, 2012 6:14 pm

      Couldn’t agree more. I’m surrounded by these types of people in Chicago and I can’t stand it. “I’ve been slacking lately” seems to be an excuse that everyone uses, when really they should be saying “I don’t have to motivation to turn this into a career.”

      It’s both satisfying and inspiring to read about dedicated artists such as yourselves. Keep up the hard work!

    • February 22, 2012 1:10 pm

      True, true, lady. I wish the Posers would get out of the way and stop making the rest of us look bad!

  3. February 21, 2012 11:28 pm

    As Twitter would say, #agyst. Nice goin, redhead! So proud of all the work you’re putting in. Actors who aren’t doing something along the lines of this, are not here for real. Recently an actor told me, “I’m just trying to survive,” blamed a couple things on the economy, and told me she didn’t audition because she hated it. I knew the sad subtext, but kept it to myself.

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