And a day job.
Sometimes called a survival job, this source of income is vital to achieving your artistic goals.
For those of you viscerally responding, "But no! I'm an artiiiiiist!", here are five valid reasons you should get a job, you artistic bum!
No shame in that. It's impossible to focus on creativity when you can't pay the rent. (And as we all know, the rent is too damn high.)
Maybe you're one of those actors hoping to save X amount of money so you can chase your dreams full time. Please don't. You'll burn through that money quicker than you expect, and why give yourself such a limited window?
Developing a career as a working actor is a marathon, not a sprint. Giving yourself a shrinking bank account of a deadline is going to stress you out more than it will drive you.
Get a day job. Work hard, pay your bills, and make things happen!
If you think you don't have any marketable job skills aside from vocal warmups and crying on cue, think again. You're personable, fearless, and professional - all desirable traits in a day job employee!
The most popular actor day jobs are in the food service industry. Walk into any restaurant, cafe, or coffee shop in LA, and you'll find smiling actors offering to take your drink order. These jobs are great because they're often flexible with hours and easy to walk away from.
If you have some other marketable skill, use it! I know actors who work as accountants, real estate agents, teachers, and computer programmers. These jobs take more work to find flexibility, but offer stability (and health insurance!) in the face of unpredictable artistic opportunities.
Consider the skills you already have and the perfect side job may follow.
When money is scarce, you carry that feeling of scarcity everywhere. When the possibility of booking a job becomes linked with your life survival, the desperation can show in the audition room. Who can play and be creative in that kind of environment?
Take the need to make money out of the artistic equation and you'll be much more free to take risks and learn from your failures.
Discipline is how things get done. Less free time means you have less time to waste on reality TV marathons. Keeping a tighter schedule can help you focus your artistic efforts.
I discovered interval writing while I was at my last day job, and I found that I got more writing done than when my days were all free. It may sound like a paradox, but it's true.
Having a day job forces you to stay on top of your goals. And anything that gets you closer to your artistic goal is worth doing!
Helen Mirren worked at an amusement park, Kristen Bell served frozen yogurt at a TCBY, and we all know Channing Tatum was a stripper. But rather than be embarrassed by that, he turned it into Magic Mike, which grossed over $167 Million worldwide. Not too shabby.
I know it's your dream to live your art 24/7, but these experiences you have along the way will only make your acting work more layered and authentic. If nothing else, they'll make good stories to tell on Jimmy Fallon someday.
Your day job adds to the texture of your life, which can help make your art more textured.
Please add in the comments below!