There has been a lot of talk lately regarding the fact that some prominent british actors have other jobs outside of the industry, such as working the till at supermarkets or waiting tables, so I thought I would chime in on the conversation with my own take on the subject.
I am a working actor with many credits under my belt and have worked alongside some big name stars, I audition and continuously work on my craft and I even teach workshops on how to develop ones career as an actor, in fact I was lucky enough to send off two invoices for new students who signed up for my upcoming workshop in Prague next month. Yet I still have dry spells with little or no work and I still have rent and bills to pay and I still need to eat, so I too have a part time job alongside my main career as an actor and musician.
I currently work nights at a hotel in Central London. I chose this job because it allows me to keep my days free for auditions and self-tapes that may come up from my agents, or so that I can still do any acting jobs I may book, and as the job is during the so called graveyard shift I have a lot of quiet time where I can read and focus on submitting myself for roles or other things that I need to catch up on, I am in fact at work right now as I write this.
Many believe that having a job that is not acting (or music, or writing, or anything else artistic) means that you are focusing on a plan B, that you are taking time away from yourself that could otherwise be dedicated to your art, that you are not giving 100% to your craft and your passion. I used to be one of those people myself and even quit my cushy bank job in 2014 to pursue my passion of Music and Acting fulltime. I even rented out my apartment and lived in my band rehearsal space for a year to cut expenses so that my savings wouldn’t dwindle to quickly and my credit card bills wouldn’t pile up to high.
I meet people in acting classes and workshops that admired that and thought it was super cool that I was giving myself fully to my artistic career, and that boosted my ego for a while, until I came back to my noodles and porridge waiting for me at home.
It took me a long time to finally realize that having a steady income to rely on in fact is the best thing I can do for myself and is absolutely part of the A plan. Knowing that I can pay my rent, buy my food and not go into an audition with the desperation of needing the job rather than being confident and focusing on giving the part the work it deserves allows me to perform much better and to not be so nervous. It means I can afford to take classes in new skills that make me a more valuable actor and allows me to afford to travel and even do some unpaid student films if I want to.
I would rather be well fed, knowing that I have a roof over my head and money in the bank and not have the constant worry and stress gnawing at the back of my head - The starving artist, suffering for his work, is dead. Long live the intelligent artist, truly willing to do whatever it takes to create their art.
Because having a side job is a sacrifice, but it is the smarter sacrifice. Because if you truly love creating art, then you don’t need to do it for the money, and when you don#t do it for the money, money starts rolling in. Trust the process. Plus having income means you can invest in yourself and your future, increasing your odds of succeeding long term.