It’s pretty much guaranteed that anyone who decides to be an actor will at some point hear the words, “If you can do anything besides acting, do it instead!”
Sometimes those words come from an acting coach, a parent or even a complete stranger who thinks they know all about how an actor’s life operates.
The intention is to be helpful, of course. Anyone who says this to a young actor thinks they’re offering good advice that will help the other person steer clear of a lifetime of struggling to make ends meet. But usually (at least, in my experience), the phrase only serves to strengthen the artist’s resolve that, yes indeed, the only thing they can do in life is be an actor!
Well, you know what? I call bullshit on this whole thing. I call bullshit on the idea that acting should be the last option as a career path, I call bullshit on the idea that if you’re an actor it’s because you simply “can’t” do anything else, and I call bullshit that you have to choose between one or the other.
Heck, if there’s anything you would consider doing besides acting... do it to supplement your acting. Do it as a side business!
You Will Probably Need a “Side Job” Anyway
Like any industry, when you’re new to the world of acting there will be a period of at least several years when you’re still getting on your feet. You’ll need time to fully understand how the industry works, who you gel with, where exactly you want to put your efforts, and build relationships.
If you look at any newly famous person’s IMDB profile, you’ll usually see that the time between their first credit and the credit that was their “big break” is about 7-10 years.
You read that right. 7-10 YEARS! Jon Hamm famously couldn’t get a leading role until he was well into his 30’s, after auditioning year after year after year in Hollywood.
Chances are, you will need to have a side job while you pursue your acting dreams. Might as well make it a side job you love, with your own hours and projects that really get your juices flowing.
Having a Side Job Makes You a Better Actor
Being forced to learn marketing skills, networking skills and business skills has made me more adept in the entertainment industry, not to mention the human interactions that have resulted from my work as a coach has greatly informed my artistic life! In short, being a coach has made me a better actor and entertainment professional.
Not only have I received these benefits, but my coaching business has also saved me from having to work for someone else. I have the freedom to set my own schedule, the freedom to choose how much and how often I work, and what my rate is.
When it really comes down to it... having a coaching business on the side has saved my sanity as an artist.
My Side Business Helps me Book More Work
It sounds totally counterintuitive, but having my side business has actually helped me book more work. Long gone are the days when I walked into an audition thinking, “If I don’t book this, I don’t know how I’ll pay my rent.”
I know that my rent is covered, thanks to my side business, so I can focus on how much I love being an actor. The stress and high-pressure of having to book is just gone.
Listen, if you’re reading this article and you’ve made it this far, I already know that you’re committed to your craft as an artist. There’s no need to juggle challenging shifts as a waiter or deal with corporate bosses at a temp agency who don’t understand that you might need to leave at 2:30 for an audition.
If there’s anything else you could do besides acting, think seriously about turning that something else into a business that generates income so you can fund your acting career.
Need a little more guidance on this topic? Let’s talk. I’ve helped many actors create a side business that supports their acting career and gives them a better quality of life, and you can have that, too. Click HERE to get in touch with me.
Courtney Rioux, The Whole Artist coaches actors and other creative talent who feel stuck in their career and want more out of life. She's here to help you shift your mindset from stuck and unhappy to empowered and joyful — all while making it feel fun and easy. It’s like therapy without the therapy.