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Survival Jobs vs. Sideline Careers

June 30, 2013

Three adults sat, staring me down, each putting their own spin on the matter at hand; namely, that to major in theatre was a foolhardy endeavor – because, I mean, come on – who ever really makes a living as an actor? It would be best to major in something I could fall back on, get a liberal arts education (and maybe find a nice boy and a real job to settle down with ). I remember that meeting in my high school counselor’s office like it was yesterday, and, while I disagree wholeheartedly about the counselor and my parents’ take on what I should have majored in and what my career prospects were, there is a glint of truth in their admonition to line up a fall back plan.

Let me be abundantly clear: a fall back plan does not mean you have given up your theatre aspirations! In fact, a fall back plan can help you pursue your theatre aspirations more vigorously. After all, an actor with a roof over her head and food in her belly can then take some of her extra income to subsidize classes, new headshots, or a killer new outfit for that big audition next week.

The other day, a notice on the Equity website caught my eye: a workshop was being held about sideline careers. I often look with great wistfulness at the workshops the folks in the office cities have access to, and I hope that my union soon will offer all the workshops via streaming for the many folks who, like me, live in the regions. Though my attendance was deterred since I don’t live in NYC, I clicked the link through to The Actors Fund website and was thrilled to see that they offer remote coaching via email and phone consultation. There are also some great videos and resources to get you thinking outside the survival job box about how your skills can be used to help you generate additional streams of income, both passive and active.

I had heard about The Actors Fund before, namely the shoe fund, among their other services, but never realized I could utilize those services from outside NYC and LA. I am eager to delve more deeply into this process because, while waiting tables and temping are good options for pretty quick and easy cash, the hamster wheel of survival jobs is an exhausting one. If you are in this career for the long haul, do yourself a favor and think early about how you will support yourself if Spielberg doesn’t come knocking on your door. Most of us are more likely to live the lives of the journeyman actor than that of the next red carpet sensation.

For those of you living in the office cities, take advantage of those workshops and free counseling! For those of you in the regions, let Equity know that you would like to participate in those workshops your union dues are helping to underwrite by having them available via streaming!

What ways have you found to supplement your income from acting? Are there sideline careers you are interested in pursuing? Let’s chat about it in the comments!


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