Don’t Be a Waiter—Find an Entertainment Industry Job, Instead

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Hollywood can be tough. All those clichés are cliché for a reason. Very few actors, if any, are truly “overnight sensations.” And while you’re busy paying your dues, you usually need to work. But you don’t need to wait, which I mean in both senses of the word: delaying an action and serving customers at a restaurant.

One of the things I’ve come to realize is that working in the industry you want to be a part of is key, even if it’s not in the specific capacity you’re pursuing. You want to act. You want to do it professionally. As an actor, your job is to create characters, be involved in worlds and stories that say something. So on your way up the ladder and between acting jobs, why not considering getting a job in that same world?

Sure, you can be a waiter or bartender—many do. But that sort of work doesn’t really help to forward or contribute to your career. The world of film and TV is your arena. It’s your goal. It’s where you belong. And working in it will not only enhance your skills, but also put you in the position to be rubbing elbows with others in the same field, with future friends and colleagues who also want to learn and grow. There’s something great about finding like-minded people and working with them. That saying “Birds of a feather flock together”? This is your flock. 

READ: Great Acting Is About More Than Training and Class

To be clear, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with working as a waiter or waitress, bartender, bar back, etc. Believe me, I’ve done them all. My point isn’t to criticize any particular kind of work. Work is work and we all need to do it. My point is that you should try to take a wider look. To get and remain in your career’s industry. To expose yourself to as much of it as possible and to enhance yourself along the way.

What better way to do that, to remain creative, to continuously learn about your craft, to meet other creative people who are also passionate about film and TV, whether actors, producers, writers, etc.? And who knows, you may also come to find that you’re not only good at one of these other areas but that you even love it. Producing and line producing is something I never expected to do, much less expected to love. But I do love it and wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t jumped in and done it.

Working in these other areas can increase your overall value in the business, too. You can act, write, produce, script supervise, take care of wardrobe...whatever it may be. And the pay for these jobs is pretty freakin’ good. You could view it as being paid to increase your tools, abilities, and worth. And the funny thing is that many successful actors wind up producing and directing later in their career anyway, so why wait?

Invest in yourself and your career. Engulf yourself in the world. Open yourself up to other possibilities and opportunities. There are dozens of fulfilling things you can do and get paid for in film and TV. If you’re continually getting work as an actor or actress, awesome! Keep doing it. But if you find yourself with some downtime here and there, why not keep your foot in the door while you’re waiting to land the next part?

Ready to put those life experiences to the test? Check out Backstage’s ABC casting calls!

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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Sevier Crespo
Puerto Rican-born Producer Sevier Crespo has worked with such Hollywood heavyweights as Michael Mann and Jerry Bruckheimer. He studied production at UCLA and has since gone on to work with such global brands as Adidas, Coca-Cola, Nike, Marlboro, Mitsubishi, NBC, and Netflix.
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