Side Hustle Spotlight: The Actor/Writer/Producer Doing What She Loves

Photo Source: Courtesy Kristen Buckels

A few weeks ago, we talked about how a side hustle should fuel your acting, not suck your energy. To help illustrate what I mean about there being more options out there than slinging drinks and waiting tables, I’ll interview five actors who have fulfilling side hustles that don’t interfere with them kicking ass in the acting world. Their IMDB pages 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. This week, we chat with actor/freelance writer-producer Kristen Buckels.

Name: Kristen Buckels

Side hustle: Freelance writer-producer (currently associate producer for “Search Party” and “Loosely Exactly Nicole”)

General working hours: Monday-Friday

Years acting: 9

Favorite acting credits/opportunities: Getting to shoot and create something I wrote.

What do you do when an audition or shoot comes up?
Since I freelance, my schedule fluctuates, but in general, if I have to shoot something I schedule it for a weekend. For auditions, I work in a field that is understanding about that and I request the time to go audition.

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?
The only time I've ever felt like my side hustle was in jeopardy was when I wasn’t upfront about my desire to perform and write. In the past, I’ve been embarrassed to tell employers that is what I want to do. Now, when I’m taking jobs, I’m very upfront about it and usually not only are people understanding but they also want to help be apart of it.

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?
For production, it’s a lot of people skills and organizational skills, not being intimidated by stressful situations. I don’t know that there was a time frame, I feel like producing is learning by doing and it’s either something you enjoy or it’s not.

How does this side hustle fulfill you? Do you feel like you’re helping people/society/humanity in a tangible way?
My side hustle fulfills me in that I am constantly surrounded by smart, creative, and ambitious people that are doing exactly what I want to do, which is inspiring and refreshing, constantly keeping me in that mindset. I’m learning everything that goes on behind the scenes and every step of the process of filmmaking, when and why things happen.

I wouldn’t say that I am helping society/people/humanity—I wish I could say that! I think stories are a necessary part of who we are as people for a variety of reasons and I consider myself lucky that it’s what I spend my time doing every day. Stories help people and make people happy and I’m helping facilitate.

Why did you choose to do this side hustle instead of more stereotypical acting jobs like serving?
I’ve done the stereotypical serving jobs and there’s nothing wrong with them, they definitely have their pros. I chose to move into production because I wanted to be closer to the things I want to do. I think it’s all a matter of who you are as a person and what serves you and your goals. There is no right or wrong side hustle to pursue what you’re doing.

If you produce your own work, do you feel like this current side hustle allows you the freedom/resources to do that?
I do produce my own work, this side hustle definitely provides me with the freedom and resources to do so. Mainly in meeting new people that also create their own work and everyone wants to help and be apart of other things.

If you ever bartended or served, what are the pros and cons vs your current side hustle?
With this career, there is no “real” way to do anything. For me, the hours were hard while I was serving, constantly being on your feet. The hours in production are harder but I spend most of my day enjoying what I'm doing so the fatigue doesn’t affect me as much. With serving, I didn’t like the unpredictability of how much money I would make each week. With what I do now, I know exactly what I’m going to make and I can make more of a plan with my money. I’m the type of person that needs to plan and feel more stable to feel safe and creative.

This isn’t a rule of thumb at all but in most of the places I was a server or bartender, it was filled with lots of people who were tired, negative and soured towards things and when you're around that a lot it tends to rub off on you and I would catch myself being sucked into negative situations that had nothing to do with me. One thing that is generally true for me is [that] you are the company you keep. I like to surround myself with people who are more successful or further along than I am doing what I do so I have something to level up to. I found that harder to do in a serving environment but that’s not to say that it’s impossible.

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?
I would say take your time and be kind to yourself. It’s not a race. It’s so easy to get stuck in a pattern of comparing yourself to other people or feeling like you’re behind or failing in some way. I know that I’m terrible about that. Whatever you do, whether it’s serving, nannying, being a personal assistant or whatever, do it with the same passion and energy you would as a performer. You never know who you’re in front of or who you can build a relationship with.

I learned something called the Umbrella Effect from Dallas Travers who is a wonderful acting career coach. It implies that the way you do one thing is the way you do everything. If you’re a wonderful server and you do it with a smile on your face, people will just naturally assume that you’re always pleasant to be around. It’s also a respect thing—remember that the chef and the manager, the kitchen staff and everyone else at the restaurant, this is their career and their livelihood so treat it with the same respect that you would want them to treat your career.

Most of all, if something sucks don't be afraid to let it go. There is always something right around the corner. Focus on creating a community and building
relationships; the rest will follow.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Linnea Sage
Linnea Sage is an actor, voice-over artist, writer, and producer in NYC. She currently stars in the comedy series “WILDCATS” on the Fullscreen Network, as well as voicing superheroes in the Marvel video game, Avengers Academy. Follow her @LinneaSage on Twitter and @Linnayeahhh on Instagram.