Welcome to another weekly edition of Side Hustle Spotlight where I interview actors and filmmakers at different levels of their career who have used their other passions to capitalize on a fulfilling side hustle. These folks no longer or have never had to do serving work that drained their energy and made them miserable. Be sure to check out the original article for inspiration on discovering your side hustle.
This week’s actor refurbished her finance and marketing BA to cater to actors and non-profits. Her business prowess doesn’t interfere with her acting work and proves that you don’t need to ditch your old life after you make the leap into show business!
Name: Rita Sengupta
Side hustle: I am a marketing consultant and owner of ITM Studios, a firm that designs affordable, high-quality websites for actors. I’ve also worked with non-profits and small businesses, like Practice Makes Progress, Exchanging America, and Safe Bars to develop their marketing strategy and execute impactful promotional content.
Years acting: Two
Favorite acting credits/opportunities: Playing Ada Coleman in Post Shift Theatre’s original and immersive production “Ruth and Ada at The Savoy,” which took place in an operating cocktail bar. It was a lot of fun because we had to make cocktails for the audience while we were performing.
What do you do when an audition or shoot comes up?
Since I manage my own schedule, I’m usually able to move calls, meetings, or work around auditions or shoots. It’s one of the main reasons why I wanted to work for myself!
Have you ever felt like your side hustle was in jeopardy because of acting? How long did it take you to feel like you had security at this side hustle, even if you took time off for an acting project?
I haven’t felt like my business was in jeopardy because of acting. I strategically only take on a few marketing clients at a time so that I can balance them in between acting opportunities. I think this is also possible because I’m still at the beginning of my actor career.
I’ve been freelancing for almost a year and it takes time to build clientele and find new work. Marketing consulting is similar to acting in the sense that work is not always consistent or stable, so I have to be smart about securing new client work before other contracts end. Since it is my main source of income, at times I have to prioritize my business over acting opportunities to make sure I’m financially secure.
What skills or talents did you need for this side hustle? How long did it take you to qualify or complete training for your side hustle?
I studied finance and marketing in school and my first couple of jobs after graduating were in corporate finance and doing marketing for a startup. Those professional experiences set me up for my marketing consulting side hustle. Even though acting is my passion, I enjoy learning new skills so I always try to stay up to date with the marketing and design world by going to events, reading books, and meeting fellow freelancers and entrepreneurs.
How does this side hustle fulfill you? Do you feel like you’re helping people/society/humanity in a tangible way?
I specifically like to work with small businesses and non-profits that value inclusivity. One of my values in life is to share the voices of those who are under- and misrepresented so I’m thankful for the opportunity to incorporate this value in both my acting work and my business. I’m grateful to have worked with people who are leading trainings on trans-inclusion and anti-harassment in the workplace, building solar powered light towers, and creating global leadership experiences for American youth. I’m also excited about my next venture, ITM Studios, a firm that designs affordable, quality websites for actors because it melds my passions for acting and marketing/design. I know a lot of actors that either don’t have the time or the knowledge to build a website so I’m glad that I can help them in creating an important piece for their acting toolkit.
Has your side hustle made you better at acting or achieving your acting goals?
Definitely! For me, acting is all about empathy and understanding the perspectives of different people. As a marketer, one of my main jobs is to understand a brand or company’s target consumer in order to create engaging and effective marketing strategies. This skill helps me a lot when I approach a character for an acting role.
Why did you choose to do this side hustle instead of more stereotypical acting side hustles like serving?
I think finding a decent waitressing or bartending job in NYC is honestly just as hard as getting auditions and acting roles! So as someone who has zero serving experience, I knew I had to leverage my previous skill set in marketing and business for my survival job.
If you produce your own work, do you feel like this current side hustle allows you the freedom/resources to do that?
It definitely does! I’m currently producing a short film and a few short scenes/sketches with friends, so my marketing background also comes in handy when we are thinking how best to share the content.
Do you have any advice for actors that aren’t sure what path to take while they are waiting for acting to pay all the bills?
Write the following on a notecard: “You are exactly where you need to be.” Tape it to your wall and look at it when you are feeling stressed or unsure. It’s a good reminder to not compare your path to someone else’s and to practice patience. Instagram makes it so easy to fall into the comparison game, so it’s important to find strategies to stay sane in this crazy industry.
In terms of finding what path to take, the best thing to do is stop thinking about what things you can do to make money and actually start doing them. One of my favorite quotes is from Marie Forleo. She says, “Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.” If you have an inkling of something you want to do (like personal training, tutoring, starting a business, etc), start taking the steps to pursue that path. You’ll be surprised how quickly you find out if you like it or not.
Linnea Sage is an award-winning actor, voiceover artist, writer, and producer in NYC and LA. She is the creator of the animated series, “Brainless Agenda” (@BrainlessAgenda on Instagram). She starred in the comedy series “WILDCATS” on the Fullscreen Network. She also voices superheroes in the Marvel video game, "Avengers Academy.” Follow her @LinneaSage on Twitter. If you have a fulfilling side hustle and want to be featured in Linnea’s column, Side Hustle Spotlight, please introduce yourself at [email protected].
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