How Your Side Job Can Help Your Acting Career

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Getting a big audition or call back can be really exciting, especially if the job is union when you’re just starting out. As actors, we know in our hearts why we’re pursuing a career as an artist, but sometimes it’s difficult to keep those heart-centered reasons in mind when we’re wondering how to pay next month’s rent.

Getting an audition for something like a national commercial or a co-star on a network television show seems like a lucky break when you’re behind on your car payments. But ironically, the anxiety that accompanies financial stress can actually leak into your acting work and make it harder to book the job.

Here’s why a side job is an absolute must-have for every actor. That is, until you’ve landed your first lead in a Spielberg film!

Money is Important

As artists, we know that life isn’t about money. But you need to have enough to eat, pay rent, use a cell phone, live in the city you’ve chosen and look presentable at your auditions.

If you can’t afford your life, being an actor will be very difficult. This is already a challenging and exciting career choice. Set yourself up for success by having your finances in order.

Create a Solid Foundation

There is nothing wrong with taking a few months to save up and create a solid foundation for yourself financially before fully diving in to the professional entertainment world. It doesn’t mean that you’re not a real actor, or even that you’re “taking a break.” In fact, I would say that taking steps to make sure you will feel secure while you focus on your art is demonstrating an even deeper level of commitment because you’re building a structure for success.

Clear Your Head

I’ll always remember the first time I got a callback on a big paying commercial. At the time I was non-union, and the job was union, which meant that I would become a member if I booked it. Not only that, but this was the first audition my new agent had sent me on and I was getting married in two weeks. What a great wedding gift this would be to my future husband!

I had so much on my mind with the upcoming wedding, the possible money I could make (we could take a vacation!) and the three different accents I had to perform for the callback, I couldn’t just stop and trust that I knew what to do.

At the callback, there were ten people watching (which is standard for commercials). In front of all of them I completely botched the accents. It’s not an exaggeration to say that my Italian accent sounded like a made-up language.

When I left the room I knew it hadn’t gone well, and sure enough, two days later I was released having learned a big lesson. If I had been able to cherish the experience without stressing about the potential income, I would have had fun and that would have shone in my work.

Find the Joy

Think of every audition as an exciting experience that is an opportunity to book work, meet new people, interact with your agent, and practice your craft in action.

Whether it’s a commercial or theatrical audition, worrying about money will suck the fun out. And why do we do what we do if it’s not fun?

When people are relaxed and free and enjoy the audition, casting can feel that. When you’re stressed and anxious about booking the job, they can feel that, too. Having a reliable side job will make a huge difference in your ability to be present in the casting office because you know that your life doesn’t depend on booking the job.

Let yourself have fun. Leave a comment below and let me know how you make your side job work for your career.

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