Advice and How-To's Especially for ACTORS!

Welcome- I am so glad you're here! Bite-Size Business is a program created to help actors navigate the business in a way that is fun, empowering and educational.

Use the "Blog Topics" on the left to find hundreds of articles covering all areas of acting, or browse the archives for a title that sounds groovy. Feel free to leave a comment- and be sure to check each post to see if a comment was left.

And if you enjoy this blog...

• Subscribe (<--- look to the left!) so you can be updated when future articles are posted.
• You can also share this article by clicking on an icon below. Cheers!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Getting Real

Featured Article: Backstage Experts!

Recommended Reading:
How To Win Friends and Influence People
Outliers

I was on Twitter today (much like every day) and was thinking about what piece of advice I wanted to offer to actors. To help me with ideas, each time I do this I look back on my week of coaching and try to find a common theme that actors have been grappling with. These past few days have a richer history to draw from, as I’ve been working on casting two projects I’m producing. I’ve reached out to actors I respect and adore, hoping they'd be able to participate in one of these projects. Astonishingly, more than once I was told,

“I would love to, but I have to work.”

You have all heard me talk about this before - that actors need to “Get Real” about what it actually takes to make it as an actor. I’ve waxed philosophic about being an expert and overcoming obstacles. So, you know my position on day jobs -- which is pretty much everyone’s position on day jobs: they need to be flexible, but they also need to cover the basics so that you don’t starve. The trouble is, we get this idea into our heads that we’re limited to only a few types of jobs that will be flexible for our career (temp work, serving, bartending, etc.) I’d like to challenge that assumption. I believe that there are hundreds of flexible jobs waiting for you to come grab them, and thousands in major cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Why haven’t you found them, you ask? The “Get Real” answer:

Because you haven’t asked for them.

When I moved to New York City, I made myself a firm commitment that I would a) only take day jobs that were in the performing arts industry, and b) the jobs must be so flexible that I can canceling coming into work - even the day of - and not be penalized. It’s a tall order. And sure, the interview process was tricky. I got turned down for way more jobs than I was accepted, which was previously uncommon. But the good news was that it wasn't because of my skills or talent - I was turned down because I was clear about my expectations. I told each employer:

“I’m looking for a flexible work schedule that will allow me to attend to my acting career on a moment’s notice. In exchange for that, you’ll get an employee who gives 110%, who’ll work evenings and weekends to complete projects on time. I offer unparalleled experience and skills for the low money being offered, and I’ll take that pay in exchange for the quality of life that I need.”

The managers always appreciated my candor, and those who hired me had a clear understanding of what I was talking about. I didn’t walk in there asking, “If I get hired, is it ok if sometimes I use vacation time to go on auditions?” I told them exactly what I wanted, and let them make the decision as to whether or not I was the right fit for their company. And, you know what? I found flexible work after only my second month in New York, and haven’t looked back since. I've been a work-from-home admin assistant, technology advisor, and marketing consultant -- all of which allowed me to set my own hours and come and go as I pleased. There are TONS of jobs waiting for your to grab them. You just have to muster up the courage and the confidence to know that you deserve them.

I want to address another issue when it comes to making a living. A lot of people feel like they can’t really make acting a full-time career until they’re making enough money from acting to be able to leave their day job. They’re concerned that acting won’t be able to pay the bills, and are afraid to really put in the effort until they do. I’m going to go out on a limb here and probably frustrate some of you:

Why doesn’t acting pay your bills? The “Get Real” answer:

Because you don’t demand that it does.

I’ve got a friend of mine who works only as an actor. He doesn’t have a day job, and spends a lot of his time eating mac and cheese instead of going out for drinks with friends. But he gets his bills paid, and do you know why? Because he demands to get paid for his acting work. Now, this is a pretty ballsy thing to do, and he certainly had the talent, relationships, and resume to back it up. But I truly believe that you won’t ever get there unless you ask for it. Case in point: this actor was cast in a show out of town where he’d be making around $700 per week. He then gets a call from one of his favorite directors -- she’s producing new AEA showcase production of a play the actor had workshopped several times in the past few years -- would he be interested in doing the show? The actor was torn - he wanted the paycheck from the out-of-town show, but for artistic reasons he was much more drawn to the little in-town show that would be playing in a tiny theater. So, he asked for what he needed -- in order to do the small show, he asked that producer to pay him the same amount that he was getting for the other show. AND THE PRODUCER AGREED.

Now, obviously... this is an extreme example, and it doesn’t always work. We don’t always get what we ask for. But as Wayne Gretzky said, “You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

So, how do you make this happen? Well, first you take stock in your skill set and find what makes you unique. What are you really, really good at, and what would be of value to others? Then you start looking for work that allows you to use that skill set. In 2007 I started The Actors’ Enterprise so that I could have flexibility, financial stability, and a passion for how I spend my days. It combines my vast knowledge of marketing & business start-up, with my intense love for helping people achieve greatness. I’ve taken all of the work experience that I have amassed and created something that allows me to make my acting career #1. If I can do it, you can do it.

So, back to my comment about the Twitter advice I offered today. Here’s are the 3 tweets I ended up posting:

• "I have deep concerns when "I can't, I have to work" keeps an actor from doing something important for their career."

• "I’m a big proponent of finding or creating work that is flexible for your needs as an actor. Heck, if I can do it, anyone can."

• "Bottom line: You can have a strict day job and be forced to make acting a hobby, or find a flexible job and have a shot at making it a CAREER."

And you know what? Within minutes an actor in California responded to my tweets saying that he works in the legal profession and is looking for actors to work for his company in several cities across the country (including New York.) It's amazing what becomes available when you just ask for it.

I invite you to examine your day job status and the kind of freedom and support it provides for your acting career. Use what I have offered here as inspiration for what is absolutely possible: pursuing your acting career with full force AND having a day job that provides for that. If you have any questions about how to apply this to your specific situation, shoot me an email and I’ll help as best I can. Perhaps it just a little pep talk you need, or perhaps your career would benefit from a little bit of coaching. I always offer a free consultation so we can get to know each other and you can see if this kind of coaching would be right for you. I would be honored to be a member of your team.


Have a comment or question? Leave it by clicking below!

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out http://www.theactorsenterprise.org.



16 COMMENTS - Click to READ:

MsKris said...

Wow! Great post! I'm in the process of leaving my cushy day job in banking in DC to move to NYC and I've started looking for flexible jobs that will allow me to focus on my acting career. Since that's my main purpose of going to NYC! You're post is right on time! I've read great things about your career coaching, etc. So, when I touch down in NYC I plan to touch base with you! Thanks for always providing us actors with awesome wisdom!
@KrisRG

Lenka said...

Great article, Erin, something I'm currently dealing with.

Erin Cronican said...

Kris- Thank you so much! It will be wonderful to meet you when you get here, and I'll be happy to help in any way I can. :)

Lenka- Thanks, my dear! And I appreciate the follow up email you sent -- I'll respond to that shortly!

Patrick said...

What a wonderful post! It's so true. You can make it work. You can lead a life as an actor, artist, dancer..whatever. You can find work that will allow you the flexibility to follow your true path. It just takes some time to sort it and out.

Excellent article and something we all need to be reminded of. I used to be one of those people who turned things down because I had to work. Or didn't go to auditions for the same reason. Now I'm making strides to move away from that mentality and still be able to eat. Even if it is mac n' cheese.

Jen Ponton said...

I couldn't agree more with this advice! I have friends who DEMAND that acting work alone pays the bills, and they make ends meet. I also really honor the upfront and honest approach to getting a flexible day job! I think that those can be SUCH great partnerships--and once an employer sees how *grateful* an actor is to have a flexible job, they'll see how hard and well they work in return! ;)

Tiffany Simms said...

Funny that I am currently looking for a better survival job than the inconsistent shifts I get as a server/bartender. Thanks for the great information and perspective.

I would love to know what legal firm is hiring and any other job boards or sites for those flexible jobs.

Thanks!

filmmaking resources said...

I don't want to be mean here but I feel like the actors who make that excuse don't have their whole heart into becoming more well known and getting acting jobs. I feel they are just making excuses because they are scared or they are lazy. If you want to become an actor, you have to arrange your whole life around what is necessary to make that happen and one of those things is to get a day job that is flexible in letting you go to auditions and such. it is possible to find these jobs you just have to work hard to find them.

Steph Van Vlack said...

I recently left the survival day job when it became clear it was making my acting more of a hobby than a career. It's a bit scary pushing away the consistent paycheck, but I know I have a wonderful support system and I'll find a way to make it work.

Thank you for this timely article.

Perri said...

everything here is very straight forward and well put. I've been working for a hospital for the past 7 years in a research job that is solid enough to keep me busy when i'm not in rehearsals or performances, but is flexible enough for me to schedule auditions and rehearsals. I love my job, it keeps me actively communicating with a range of people, which I think feeds my skill set as an actor. I get to observe and interact, I think that's a key proponent of being an actor: if your day job is a part of who you are and who you are becoming, your acting career will be nurtured. Since I have a solid paycheck, I get to choose the projects I'm interested in, as opposed to having to take acting gigs just to make money. It's wildly important to face the REAL facts though, and that's exactly what your writing does. thank you!

Kevyn said...

Such an awesome article. Thank you for this. I feel like I was meant to find this today. Just the reality check I needed.

Erin Cronican said...

Wow- such amazing comments. Thank you for stopping by, everyone!

Patrick- I love your mentality, and I love Mac & Cheese. :)

Jen- Agreed! :)

Tiffany - Sorry for the late response. Look up @cartermason on Twitter. I don't know him personally so I can't vouch for the job, but we've chatted on Twitter and I'm thrilled he reached out to me.

film.. - Thanks for your perspective. I'm not sure if that is always the case. I think there are plenty of actors who have their whole heart into acting, but the fear of the unknown keeps them from fully expressing their commitment to their career. And that's why I am writing this blog, to help those who want to make something happen for themselves. I agree that those who, even after studying the business, STILL make excuses, one would have to question their passion for acting.

Steph- Great work! Let us know how it goes! :)

Perri- Your day job sounds ideal! Personally, I think it makes a huge difference to have something outside of your acting career that feeds your soul. I think it can only make you a better actor.

Kevyn- You are so welcome! :)

Carter Mason said...

Thanks, Erin, for mentioning my business!

Hello all - I want to clarify the type of work I'm doing, and what I am looking for to save time if you're not interested.

I want to tell you upfront it is commission-based 1099 work. I market a plan where filmmakers get the business and legal side of filmmaking taken care of at a fraction of the cost, and I also work with internet marketing and social media. Primarily, I'm looking for those who want to help me get done in NYC (and other cities where there is a strong film market) what I'm doing with filmmakers here in Los Angeles. It is more than sales, but ultimately you get paid when filmmakers sign up for the plan.

I work with my clients to help them use attorneys and business consultants to protect and grow their businesses/productions. If this is something that interests you, hit me up via email, carter at cartermasongroup dot com

Of course, the Los Angeles market is so large, I'm interested in finding people here, too!

Erin Cronican said...

Thanks, Carter. :)

pixymagic said...

its nice to read a useful article for beginner like me. Some of points from this article are very helpful for me as I haven’t considered them yet. I would like to say thank you for sharing this cool article. Bookmarked and sharing for friends.
Chevy Van Turbocharger

acting schools nyc said...

Such an awesome article. Thank you for this. I feel like I was meant to find this today. Just the reality check I needed.

ActingGurl said...

Just found this article. It's inspired me to put in my notice to my survival job that interferes in my dreams, acting and otherwise. My one question is I don't know where to start to finding such a job? Any suggestions for a LA girl?

Post a Comment

Thanks for leaving your thoughts- I will respond as soon as possible! (Be sure to click the "Subscribe by Email" link to be notified about my response as well as others'...)

THE FINE PRINT

This content is offered under a Creative Commons by-NC-ND License.That means you're free to share it, republish it, refer to it, include it in your wedding vows, whatever... - PROVIDED you

a) you don't change anything.
b) you don't use it to make money.
c) credit me (with my blog's name, and a link back to my site.)
d) it's not required, but it would be awesome if you'd email me to let me know you're using it, and then I can help promote your post!

If you are copying an article in its entirely, you MUST include the following acknowledgment at the top of the post: "This blog was pulled, in its entirety, from Bite-Size Business for Actors, a blog published by The Actors' Enterprise. To learn more, visit http://www.BiteSizeBusiness.org."

To view the license, click here. To learn more about Creative Commons, click here.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-
No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License
.



Follow Bite-Size Business for Actors
Directory for New York, NY
Blog Directory
TopOfBlogs
TopOfBlogs
Arts
Blog Directory

Blog Directory & Business Pages - OnToplist.com