Side Hustle Spotlight: The Actor Telling Stories Through App Development

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Welcome to another edition of Side Hustle Spotlight where I interview actors and filmmakers at different levels of their careers 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 we interview an actor and iOS developer who makes his own hours, creates his own worlds, and makes a profit! 

Name: Adam Shiri

Side hustle: iOS App Developer

Years acting: Eight years

Favorite acting credits/opportunities: TV: Co-star parts on “Mr. Robot” and “Ray Donovan.” Film: “Listen,” official selection: DC Shorts Film Festival and Palm Springs International ShortFest.                                   

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 had many different side hustles along the way and fortunately, I walked away from jobs that conflicted with my acting career and were inflexible. It was definitely a struggle at times, especially when working at restaurants. But there are other job opportunities that offer more freedom with acting, without feeling like you might be risking your position. As an app developer who’s developing his own small business, I don’t currently have that problem, which is something I’m very grateful for.

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?
With coding, you retain a lot by actually doing the work. “Altered: Starless Night” is my very first app, but I've learned so much simply by making it!

You also need to be OK with constantly solving problems. Coding takes the patience of steel and creativity in how you approach a problem. When you build an app, you consistently need to find ways to make things work and often there’s more than one way to solve a problem so you have to be creative, patient, and very determined. It took me roughly five months to gain the necessary foundation to learn coding, but I’m far from finishing my training. There’s always more to learn, but not all the information out there is relevant for each app, so you really learn as you go based on what you’re trying to create. I would say, you probably need at least six months of training and there are different ways to go about it.

How does this side hustle fulfill you? Do you feel like you’re helping people/society/humanity in a tangible way?
It fulfills me by giving me a new way to tell stories. A new platform I never thought of before where I can bring stories to life. That means everything to me. It also gives me independence, which is wonderful when I need to schedule things around my acting career. 

Has your side hustle made you better at acting or achieving your acting goals?
It definitely made me feel more capable. It opened a door for me to produce my stories into apps so naturally, I started writing more often which is great. It also pushed me to explore the voiceover world, since I wanted to narrate parts of the story. So in a way, my first VO gig was for a project I created that is now on the iTunes app store. That’s a pretty amazing feeling!                                                                
Why did you choose to do this side hustle instead of more stereotypical acting side hustles like serving?
We only live once and at some point last year I realized I just wanted more from life. I needed my job to be more than just a survival job. I honestly wanted a better reason to get up in the morning and do something I enjoy doing. 

I wanted to learn something new. I felt like I didn’t want to use my potential only when it involves acting. When I decided to explore iOS development it was because I believed it could give me independence as a job that could go alongside my acting career. I also liked the idea that with app development I could still bring my creative side to the table, and produce my work in a way I’ve never explored before.                       

If you produce your own work, do you feel like this current side hustle allows you the freedom/resources to do that?
Absolutely! That’s the most exciting part about it. I always enjoyed writing, but very early in the process I’d get discouraged by the fact I didn’t have the needed resources to produce it. Then I’d stop writing. But since I learned how to code, I don’t need to pay someone to do it for me. I have all the freedom I need to put more of my work out there to keep writing stories and code them into storytelling apps.                                          

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?
First of all, don’t work at places that make you feel miserable. The lifestyle of an actor is challenging enough without adding a terrible survival job to the mix. You have options. Today there are so many skills we can pick up for free or for a very affordable price online. So we don’t even have to invest a lot of money in order to learn something new. We just need to know that we are capable of expanding our skills in additional areas and commit ourselves to the process of learning. Try to make your survival job more than just that. Aim for something that actually interests you.

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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.

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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.
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