How to make money as an actor

When it comes to working as an actor, possibly the biggest myths you’ll come across are about MONEY.

Ever heard the term ‘starving artist’? Ever heard it applied to you?

When I first told people in my family that I wanted to be an actor, my uncle responded, “Get used to saying, ‘Would you like fries with that?’

He was only half joking.

Most of us, at some point, will come against someone close to us who doesn’t think we should be an actor, and the primary reason is probably money. To be fair, people who care about you don’t want to see you starve. That’s fair enough, but unfortunately they don’t have accurate information about how people actually make money in this industry. That means their fear about you starving is based on misinformation.

This is actually good news! It means that you can a) actually make a living as an actor and b) convince any sceptical people in your life that you’re going to be fine. Phew.

So let’s talk about how you will realistically make money as an actor.  Read More

BOOKS FOR ACTORS: THE SLIGHT EDGE

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson is a self-development classic. If you want to learn how to get ahead of the pack, and always be moving on up without getting burnt out, this is for you. So if you’re an actor, this book is for you.

Just so you know, I’m not getting paid in any way for my book reviews. These are purely my own opinion and I only write about books that I think will truly benefit my readers.

This book will really ring true for those of you who are post-high school. If you’ve graduated from high school, you’ll know that life gets super hard to balance as you get older. You’ve got a job, maybe even two jobs, maybe uni or college, a social life, maybe some debt to pay off or maybe even kids. You are BUSY. Everyone’s busy.

The basic idea of The Slight Edge is that you need to ‘save a penny’ everyday in order to reap the benefits of compound interest. This seems obvious, but it’s contrary to what most people do. Most people either a) work super hard for something for a short period of time, like cramming for exams or crash dieting, or b) work consistently towards a goal and then drop it once they’ve achieved it, so they have to start from scratch again the next time they want to reach that goal. All of this results in a crazy stressful rollercoaster life, instead of a nice breezy stroll up a slightly inclining hill.

The concepts in this book are super relevant for actors because we’re always trying to balance heaps of things to get ahead. You’re trying to balance earning a living with having enough free time to go to auditions. You’re trying to find time to go to the gym, keep an eye on audition notices, maybe learn an accent or language, go to extra acting classes, schmooze with agents, directors and other actors, and write your own screenplay. Plus all the usual stuff that other humans do. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and you might feel like something’s gotta give. Except it doesn’t, as The Slight Edge will explain. You can have it all! You just need to put that penny away. Every. Single. Day.

For an actor, applying the Slight Edge to your life might mean creating a rock-solid morning routine including a ten minute vocal warm up, ten minutes of creative writing and ten minutes of audition prep, plus a dynamite evening routine including a gym work out and sending three cold emails to new contact. Earlier this year, I decided I wanted to focus on skills development and strengthening my voice, so I looked at where I could fit in a vocal warm up, ten minutes French practice and ten minutes piano/singing practice. I realised I could find at least ten minutes every day while driving – so I do my vocal warm ups and listen to language-learning audiobooks  in the car. If I’m not driving much, I sometimes just listen to my audiobooks in the shower or while cleaning my teeth! Mr Olson is so right – it’s easy to find ten minutes every day. Thank you Mr Olson.

In all seriousness though… I’ve talked in the past about how we can’t really have it all. I still stand by that, because quite honestly, no matter how much you’re Slight Edging your life, there’s only so many spare ten minutes you can find in each day. Not because there isn’t enough time, but because I think any sane person will start to go a little mad if they’re trying to fit so many things into their day. And you’ve got to really want it – I’ll be honest, I haven’t managed to keep up with my piano/singing practice. But hey, two out of three ain’t bad. I’ll get there eventually.

Generally I just wish I’d known about the concept of the Slight Edge when I was younger. Imagine all the things I could’ve Slight Edged in the last decade… I’d probably be an Olympian or Prima Ballerina by now… (Pretty sure that’s how it works, right?) In all seriousness though, it would have been super useful. I would know French by now, for one thing, instead of desperately trying to learn it 12 weeks before I have to travel. Eek!

I’d recommend having a read of this book to get a much more thorough idea of how The Slight Edge works and how it might work for you. If you’re still in high school, maybe try Success for Teens: Real Teens Talk About Using the Slight EdgeI haven’t read this one (and I am slightly dubious of anything that has the words ‘real teens’ in the title, a bit like when comedians say, ‘true story’) so I can’t personally recommend it, but I believe Olson’s daughter was part of the team behind it, so it’s probably a fairly safe bet. These books are super cheap to get on Kindle as well, so why wouldn’t you? (If you don’t have a Kindle – did you know you can just get the Kindle app on your phone or tablet and read it that way?) Sold! Let me know what you think of the book once you’ve read it.

MORE reasons why your headshots are no good

No matter how often I write about headshots, the same issue seems to come up again and again… glam shots. They’re no good, people! How many times do I have to tell you?

(It’s usually girls who are the culprits, but guys… you can learn something here too.)

Those fancy, professional-looking shoots, where you pretend you’re a model and you put on lots of makeup and pout at the camera… they suck. They’re no use to you.

Sure, they’re fun to do. They make you feel sexy and they get lots of likes on Facebook. Awesome. But as an actor, 99% of the time, they don’t represent YOU, the real you… so they’re pretty much worthless. Worse than worthless, they look pretty silly actually. Read More

HOW TO FACE YOUR FEARS AS AN ACTOR

21-3You are not for everyoneSeen this pic floating around the interwebs? Sounds like a nice idea, yes?

 

Yes. It is nice. It’s a nice idea for how to live your life. It’s also super useful for learning how to face your fears as an actor.

(FYI it is apparently an excerpt from Light is the New Black: A Guide to Answering Your Soul’s Callings and Working Your Light by Rebecca Campbell.)  Read More

3 steps to avoiding a quarter-life crisis

Recently I was listening to an episode of the podcast Acting Inspired and they were talking about getting to a certain age where you lose a bit of your mojo. This really resonated with me because I turned 30 last year and all around me were actors (and other artists – directors, designers, dancers) who were asking, Do I still want to do this? 

I want to be honest with you. There will be a point, probably in the few years after you hit 25, where you will have this experience – let’s call it a quarter-life crisis – where you lose your youthful spark and you question why you even wanted to work in the arts in the first place. I want to be honest with you about it, because I want you to understand what it’s really like in the arts – but I promise this is not just a whinge post. I have some concrete steps for you to take to avoid this, or help yourself out of it if you’re currently in the middle of it! Read More

How to Stay Happy as an Artist

A few months ago I hit a bit of a low. I was exhausted and weary and seriously reconsidering whether I wanted to continue in the arts industry. To help myself recover, I reached out on Facebook to my artist friends to ask them, “What do you do to keep going in those low times?”

The arts in undoubtedly a challenging industry. Mostly I look back and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved… but my gosh some days you just need a hug.

If you’re in one of those slumps, I hope this list (compiled as a summary of my friends’ suggestions) gives you something to hold onto. Read More

WHY YOU NEED TO PRODUCE YOUR OWN FILM AND THEATRE

13-2This is a rather important topic, as I consider ‘doing stuff with your mates’ the bread and butter of an emerging actor.  It will get you miles ahead of the people who are not doing stuff with their mates and… you get to work with your mates.  Get all your giggles out now, because I’m going to use the phrase ‘doing stuff with your mates’ repeatedly in this post, because frankly, ‘making art with your colleagues’ sounds just as dirty.  So let’s just roll with it.

Basically I’m referring to creating your own work.  This is generally known as ‘freelance’ (securing your own acting work without an agent) or ‘independent’ (putting on your own shows/shorts/webisodes without ties to a major company).  This type of work is largely unfunded or ‘co-op’ (where you split any money the show makes between whoever was involved, also called profit-share or box-office split).  Sadly, you probably won’t make a lot of money from this sort of work, because your box-office income will most likely go towards recouping costs for equipment and costumes and all that, but the experience and exposure is really going to be the biggest benefit to begin with. Yes, this is one of the few times where being paid in exposure dollars might actually be worth it.

Why do stuff with your mates?  Why not just wait til the right role comes along and you nail that audition? Read More