If you’re an actor waiting for your big break who moonlights as a server/bartender/barista/nanny, you’ve probably been pounding the pavement for years and the daily grind of showing up to your workplace—where you live to serve others—is weighing on you.
Unless you want to eventually be the owner of a bar, restaurant, or coffee shop, stop spending years of your life in these energy-sucking jobs. Once upon a time, I was a barista. Sure, it helped pay the bills but it was draining and unfulfilling. Then I worked as a telemarketer for a healthcare company. I thought that since I was working from home I had it made, but it was a thankless job with more rejection than show business.
It wasn’t until I realized that I could make money, feel good about the job I was doing, and still have enough time to pursue my acting goals that my soul started to feel better.
Because here’s the thing: You are allowed to have more than one passion. You can be a passionate hustler when it comes to acting while still enjoying other things. You do not need to dread going to work. You do not need to be miserable while you wait for your big break. You do not need to deal with rude customers and a shitty boss. You can even have a side hustle that helps you get more acting opportunities.
READ: Survival Jobs 101
Being happy and relaxed will make you a better actor and better at running the business of your acting career. Pain does not bring gain in this industry. Positivity, optimism, and wholeness are what brings opportunity.
You might be thinking, “But I don’t have any other passions or skills! How can I stop hating my life?” Really? You wake up and hate everything all the time? Do you like dogs? Read a few books, watch some video tutorials, offer to train friends’ dogs for cheap, build your business and experience...I did it.
A friend of mine followed her love of yoga to become an instructor. Now, she makes her own schedule, finds cool opportunities to use her skills, makes more money than when she was a server, is more relaxed than ever, and still gets to pursue acting. Another friend is a writer who uses her tennis skills to teach private lessons while still having enough time to write and pitch.
When you have a passion or interest in something, all it takes is a little initiative to find ways to make it into a lucrative gig. Don’t give up before you start—you are the only one standing in the way of starting a business based on the things you enjoy.
Johnny Depp was in a band that played weddings. Gerard Butler was a lawyer and casting assistant. Harrison Ford was a carpenter who built custom furniture. Evangeline Lilly was a flight attendant. All of these now-celebs made money with a side hustle before they were full-time actors.
“No, really, acting is my life and soul and I have no other passions I can market.” Let me introduce you to telecommuting. Sure, you may not be passionate about working from home, but with the rise of companies looking for remote employees, I can almost guarantee there’s a couch-based side hustle out there that will tickle your fancy.
Here is a list of the top 100 companies that regularly list work-from-home job openings. And while you may not be qualified for some of them, fear not! You can take a certificate or training course online—for free—to beef up your resume! There are also plenty more relevant certificates online that you can pay for.
The WFH side hustle I recommend most to my peers who haven’t figured out their second passion is that of a virtual assistant. Essentially, you sit at home (or anywhere with an internet connection) and answer your phone as the assistant to a small business or entrepreneur who can’t afford office space or a full-time employee. You can do this for multiple businesses at once and the gigs have never been easier to find. Aside from answering calls, you might schedule meetings, respond to emails, make appointments, etc. Check out this website on how to get started. You can earn anywhere from $10-$50/hr and choose your own hours.
Ok, so now you know that there are more options out there than slinging drinks and waiting tables. Think about the things you’re passionate about and do something with it! Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll interview five actors who have fulfilling side hustles that don’t interfere with them kicking ass in the acting world. Their IMDBs are stacked, they’re producing their own projects, and their side hustles have actually helped them achieve acting success, so be sure to check back for much-needed inspiration.
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.