LIVING THE DREAM
As any actor still waiting for his/her breakthrough can tell you, our way of life is not easy. If we’re lucky we might get two or three high paying gigs early on or spread out over the calendar, which can technically sustain us through the year but certainly not comfortably. There may be the few odd jobs cropping up randomly but, for us work most often comes in seasons. There are long periods of time in between when we get no acting jobs at all and we’ve got to find some alternative means of making money. It’s frustrating as hell, especially when you see your much less brilliant classmates from school enjoying fabulous vacations in Europe on their Accountant salary, posting snaps from a phone that you could do much more with if you could afford it. The thing is you could very easily have gotten a corporate job and enjoyed a cushy existence behind a desk for most of your life, but for people like us that life would only be an existence. To be able to work successfully in theater and/or film is not just a dream, it’s a calling, and to cut off that calling would be the same as cutting off one’s soul. So how do we survive and live at the same time?
If you’re waiting for that magical break you might be inclined to wait for a living. It’s flexible, you can always get an opening somewhere, and if you pick the right restaurant you could meet a lot of influential people in the industry. However, the risk of waiting and hoping that some stranger will make your dreams come true is a really big one. You need to be proactive at the same time. Go out and look for acting gigs, connect with directors, producers, other actors. Keep in touch with your drama school buddies, even the ones you thought were kinda weird. Their weirdness might make them famous one day. Always think of the future, don’t live in the past. You might’ve been great in High School or at College, played all the leads, been in every show, but that doesn’t mean much to anyone else. When you do get a professional acting gig, be present. Treat each one like it’s The One. Use your time valuably, don’t let acting be the only thing you do.
Between gigs, spend time developing your other skills so you can hire them out to whoever needs your services. There are loads of websites out there for freelancers to connect with clients, just do some exploring. Think outside the box, there is literally nothing you cannot do as long as it’s legal. All over the world there are actors and directors who work multiple jobs to sustain themselves and their art. For some, theater is just a side thing, something to alleviate the stress of their 9–5 and bring a little more colour to their lives. For some it’s a hobby, and it won’t go beyond that without the actor’s push. The fact is, if you want to make it you have to work at it. Give it priority and keep chasing the dream. Eventually the dream will come looking for you.