When you are trying to make it as an actor in a big city like Atlanta, Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles, it's important to not squash your own dreams by being a Negative Nancy to yourself, but it's also imperative that you have a plan in place before spending your best years under the harsh city lights - whether that means living with family for free, saving up a ton of money while you look for work as an actor, or have a few side hustles (aka, "survival jobs") going that are flexible with your acting schedule - or all of the above - you need to have some idea of what your life beyond your school years and/or living at home will look like. Knowing this will take an enormous amount of stress off you, which will only help you focus further on your acting career!
If you're not financially blessed like most of us, never fear - there are some pretty great "side hustle" opportunities to help you carpe diem that acting career of yours without only eating ramen noodles three times per day - read on to discover our top suggestions:
Work From Home Gigs
These are, of course, the best types of side hustles you can possibly get, though with freelance work, it's usually either feast or famine, unless you're highly qualified in a specialized area, like graphic design. If you're a writer, like me, it may be a bit tougher to make a living, so, as with everything career-wise, it's important to know and understand your niche. If you're a writer, are you a copywriter? Blog writer? Fashion writer? Tech writer? Whatever it is that you know how to write about, sell it!
You can also work from home as an admin assistant. Websites like Fancy Hands and People Per Hour are great resources for virtual administrative assistants. Tasks like data entry, performing SEO and digital marketing - even designing business cards - are abundant and legitimate!
Service Industry Jobs
I know, I know - I hated even typing "service industry," but the fact of the matter is, they can be pretty flexible when it comes to acting careers, depending on the type of service industry work that you're doing. If you're working for a more corporate company, it may be tougher to request time off. If you work for a mom-and-pop shop, then it may be a tad easier to have said shop work around your schedule. It's fair to let employers know prior to hiring that you're an actor, but be forewarned - it may turn some of them off to hiring you. Use caution and do what you have to do! I worked at a high-end gym for several months when I lived in LA, and I worked the 5 a.m. - 9 a.m. shift, then would go to my SECOND job as a fashion assistant every other day, and audition in-between. I got a free gym membership AND free designer clothes - win-win!
Speaking of gyms, you could also work as a personal trainer or yoga instructor - you would have to be trained in these fields and certified, of course, but there's no shortage of needing a trainer or yoga instructor in a place like LA! Plus, you can make your own hours and charge premium rates, once your business really gets cranking.
Like freelancing, temp work is another great way to make some extra dough without committing to a job full-time. You can sign up for temp agencies like 24|seven Talent or Creative Circle, which often work with entertainers, so they're used to your abnormal grind. I've always had pretty great experience when I've worked with these two agencies in the past (both in LA and Atlanta), and they've gotten me in the door of companies I wouldn't have otherwise worked for.
As a temp employee, keep in mind that you may be taxed as either an employee (W-2), or as a 1099 contract employee. If you're "1099'ed," then you will be responsible for paying your own taxes.
The good news is, as with any of these gigs essentially, you can start your own business, which is a fantastic venture, especially if you're a egregious actor! Having a backup plan is never a bad idea, and it doesn't mean that you aren't invested in your dreams - it just means that you're smart as heck, and way ahead of your acting peers!