3 Ways to Spend Your Money Wisely as an Actor

Photo Source: Spencer Alexander

We live in a capitalist society, and money is everything. It doesn’t matter if your politics slant left or right, this is a true statement.

Acting schools teach you about craft and technique, but they don’t always educate you in the proper ways to spend your hard-earned cash. Money is a tool just like any other, and if you want to succeed in this business, you must know how to use it.

For example, if you don’t understand the concept of branding, you should sign up for a class right away. It will be expensive but totally worth it. Branding is an important part of every actor’s business plan, and you have to understand how it works. Just look at the way Elon Musk used the concept to turn Tesla into a huge success. And actors are just like cars, right? Right?

The ability to be a local hire is also important, even if being one costs you money. Let’s say you agree to be a local hire in Atlanta because your college buddy lives there and he’ll let you sleep on his couch. That’s excellent, because you just got offered a one-day role on a movie that shoots there and pays scale, which is currently $980. (That’s about $600 after taxes.) Your expenses will be a last-minute flight, some Uber rides, and a few meals. That’s about $700. So technically, you’re making no money and spending $100, but you’ll have another credit on your résumé, so that makes good financial sense, right? Right?

READ: 1 Piece of Financial Advice to Apply to Your Acting Career

Here’s another intelligent way to spend all that cash you earned waiting tables. When I look at an actor’s website, I want to feel like I’m riding the most exciting roller coaster in the world. To see what I mean, do a Google image search for “famous Maxell blown away guy.” That’s what I want! Having every possible distracting feature on your website will make you stand out in a good way, right? Right?

All right, let’s get real. See that thick line? Everything above it is a lie. None of those expenses are smart. Paying for unnecessary seminars, spending money to work, and creating overproduced websites are dumb moves. There are much better ways to spend your money. Here are a few:

1. Hire the best photographer you can find. Your headshot is your introduction to the industry, and it has to pop. To be clear, “best” doesn’t mean most expensive. It means the person who understands your needs and will be a good match for your personality.

2. Sign up for classes that are known in the industry and will broaden your horizons as a performer. Have you been studying scene study and audition technique for years? Throw some money down on an improv class.

3. Make sure you have all the right tools to self-tape auditions. A lot of people are getting work this way, so you want your tapes to look professional. Consider asking some of your actor friends to share the expense. Then you can all take turns taping each other.

When you’re an actor, a lot of people want to take your money for services you don’t need—and this will only get worse when you’re rich and famous! So start being clever now about your expenses…and don’t forget to budget for my 10 percent.

Ready to get to work? Check out Backstage’s Los Angeles audition listings!