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The Working Actor

To Wait or Not to Wait for a Job in China

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To Wait or Not to Wait for a Job in China
Dear Michael:
I booked a six-month gig in China. The pay is great, and the job is with a very reputable company. Nothing short of a Broadway show would have paid me as much, so when I booked it I stopped auditioning for other things.

Everything was signed and ready to go. I had my music learned and contract done -- the only thing left to get was my Chinese work visa, which the company assured me was coming; it would come at the last minute, but it would come. In the meantime both my agent and the company insisted that I wrap up my life here in NYC, so at their urging, I gave up my survival job. And then -- you guessed it -- the work visa didn't come.

And still hasn't come, as I'm now reaching a month of unemployment that I hadn't budgeted for. The company is apologetic but can't give me a start date for sure because it's all conditional on me getting that work visa. My agent is apologetic, but it's not his fault and he can't do anything.

The time has come for some serious decisions. If I go back to my survival job, I'll probably lose out on an entire season of work (because I stopped auditioning), and it will take me a long time to make up the financial difference. If I continue to wait and the visa does come through soon, I'll be able to make up the money much faster. But I hadn't planned on this limbo, and God only knows -- it could come tomorrow, in a month, or never.I really want to go to China, not just because of the money but because it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But my life has been on hold, and I can't continue that for much longer. What should I do? Give up on it? Or try to hold out a little longer?

Stuck in Chinese Limbo, New York

Dear Stuck:
My suggestion would be to find temp work and keep waiting. Your former job isn't the only job out there. If you can tread water with short-term employment that you can quit with little notice, maybe you'll be able to hold out. It sounds like this is within spitting distance from happening, and it would be a shame to miss it.

Meanwhile, make sure the booking company keeps you posted, especially if the delay forces them to move on to another performer.

It's wise for us to remember that in show business, "definites" aren't always definite. Productions get canceled, scenes get edited out, companies fold, and visas arrive late. We really can't count on things until they become iron-clad realities. So here's one of my many mottos: “In this business, nothing is anything until it's something.”

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