Side Hustle Spotlight: The Actor Whose Desk Job Allows Her Room to Create

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Photo Source: Courtesy of Steven Pisano via Lynnsey Ooten

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 says her part-time office job allows her to be more organized and focused on her creativity.

Name: Lynnsey Ooten

Side hustle: Administrative assistant to human resources three days a week

Years acting: 20 years

Favorite acting credits/opportunities: Girl in Edward Albee’s ”Play About the Baby,” Andromache in “The Trojan Women,” and Lucretia from Aphra Behn’s ”Sir Patient Fancy”

What do you do when an audition or shoot comes up?
Best case scenario? I know ahead of time and I can rearrange my schedule to accommodate. 

Worst case scenario? Sick day! But not necessarily [the] worst case because I’m still getting paid.

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 started at my side hustle as a temp early in 2016 with no term date. When you are a temp, your job is always in jeopardy because you are a rented paper pusher. I could always get the days off I needed for auditions or rehearsal but then I wouldn’t get paid those days like an actual employee could.

However, I’m a very resourceful individual and worked my way into being a key cog in the HR wheel. I reached a point where I didn’t want to feel like I could be let go at any given moment so I took a risk—either they hire me on or I leave—and they hired me!

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?
Skills and talent needed for this job: say “yes,” have good people skills, and the ability to use Google. Seriously! When I was asked to do something that I didn’t know how to do, I Googled it. I also worked with this company as a temp for 1.5 years, so they groomed me for the job.

How does this side hustle fulfill you? Do you feel like you’re helping people/society/humanity in a tangible way?
I’m not changing the world so much as I am balancing my equilibrium. Before I took this job, I worked for over a decade in the foodservice industry which requires you to give so much of your energy to other people, similar to acting. That lifestyle was not sustainable.

With this job, I’ve carved I nice spot for myself. There are only a handful of people I interact with every day and many of my tasks are revolved around organization. That feeds the left side of my brain which allows the right side to generate, expand, and create to a much greater capacity.

Has your side hustle made you better at acting or achieving your acting goals?
My side hustle has but I worked really hard to get what I have. I work three days a week and they are flexible, my employers know what my passion is and I don’t have to hide it, I have health insurance (finally), and [I also have] a sense of comfort and a consistency I’ve never truly experienced anywhere else before. This job has given me the room to pursue my craft with a fresh perspective.

Why did you choose to do this side hustle instead of more stereotypical acting side hustles like serving?
I did serve for over 10 years and it crushed my soul. No disrespect to those who are still fighting the good fight—being a server/barista/etc. is honest and hard work. But I reached a point where doing that kind of work was making me self-destructive. I didn’t enjoy being around people and the schedule could be erratic at times. The switch to the office world was terrifying because I was a novice at something again but I’m so thankful I did it. Really, it changed my whole world.

If you produce your own work, do you feel like this current side hustle allows you the freedom/resources to do that?
Yes! This side hustle actually gave me the ability to start producing my own work. I have my own desk, computer, etc. It’s like having my own personal office and it’s really taught me a lot about project management.

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?
Make sure your side hustle balances your creativity. I know how easy it is to stay with something that feels comfortable but make sure it isn’t stunting your growth as an artist and human. If you’re not feeling right with where you are, take a risk and try something new. You never know where it may lead you.

Check out Backstage’s TV audition listings!

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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