by Emily Vigoda
Anyone pursuing an acting career can agree that finding a good day job is hard. Building an acting career, especially in its early stages, can yield little to no income. It is extremely common for an actor to spend a large chunk of their time taking acting classes, attending auditions, going to unpaid theatre rehearsals, and working on the sets of low budget films.
How, then, do they make the money needed for groceries and rent? When most people think of jobs for aspiring actors, they think of restaurant work. While waiting tables and bartending are the classic jobs for actors, there are other options out there.
Promotions (How to Work as a Brand Ambassador)
Working in promotions, sampling, and activations is the perfect job for actors. It’s flexible, you can choose when you work, it’s usually decent pay, and in many ways it’s just another variety of acting gig. You submit some photos and a resume, and then get “booked” for the event as a promotional model. At the event, you might greet people, give out samples, register people for online subscriptions, etc. Actors are usually very adept at smiling, being friendly, talking to strangers, and general customer service, so these gigs tend to be right up the broke actor’s alley. These types of jobs can generally be found on the Craigslist event gigs section, and local Facebook groups for brand ambassadors in your region.
Catering and Banquets
This is similar to working in restaurants, but arguably better. Catering companies, hotels, and event centers tend to hire a lot of actors to fill banquet staff and bartending positions. This sort of work tends to be even more flexible than restaurants, and many people even find that they manage to make more money. If you are working for a catering company and need to get a shift off for an audition, there are probably at least 20-30 others in the company who are willing to pick up the shift as soon as you drop it.
If you enjoy working with children, babysitting and nannying can be a great gig for a working actor. Babysit when you’re available and gain a network of clients so you can pick up a gig when you need or want to. If you’re reliable, experienced, and (most importantly) children like you, you can charge decent rates and make a good bit of money.
The business of acting often requires developing other skills that can be used as a profitable, creative side career in and of themselves. Some examples of these skills include video editing, graphic design, website building, and copy/content writing. If an actor possesses any of these skills, or is willing to gain them, a flexible side career could eventually be built.
Fortunately for actors, the gig economy is going strong. Whatever an aspiring actor may choose to do to pay the bills, it needs to be accommodating to auditions, rehearsals, classes, and searching for work. That’s why jobs where you can build your own schedule, be flexible, and work variable hours are perfect for actors. In fact, it’s a good idea to diversify your income and try a few the different methods listed above to maximize your money making potential. Even after you book your first highly paid acting gig, keep these jobs going on the back burner for when times are slow.
Building a life as an actor with enough money for bills and leisure is hard, but with determination it can happen. It involves a lot of grinding hard, making opportunities for yourself, and working random gigs while auditioning on the side. If you’re up for it, however, life will be variable and interesting–and anything is possible.
About Emily Vigoda
Hello! My name is Emily, and I have a strong background in the arts and humanities. I’ve studied literature, creative writing, fashion, theatre, music, film, history, and folklore. I work as an actor, a content writer, in promotions/marketing, and in catering. I’m very knowledgeable about traveling, particularly in the US and Europe with an emphasis on frugal travel. I’m very passionate about cooking, nature/outdoorsy activities, and general frugal and healthy living.