Being an actor nowadays means, more often than not, that you’ll have one (or several) day jobs to help you sustain your career in the hopes that it will take off enough to be your primary source of income. Until then here is a wide variety of jobs actors can perform that will allow them not only to be somewhat financially stable, but which are also flexible enough to accommodate our crazy, ever changing schedules.
Here are 10 part time jobs for actors, in no particular order, to help you begin your search.
As we’ve mentioned before, being a paying member of this site is fundamentally important if you want to get anywhere in the acting world here in the UK. Not only is Spotlight where most Casting Director’s search for talent, but it is also an incredibly helpful organization that offers very interesting info, resources, podcasts, and support to actors. Check out their non-acting employment blog to find tons of flexible job opportunities perfect for those in the performing arts.
Some of these include: Perform (acting school), Flow Caritas (NGO), Wii select (events) and many more.
The most clichéd job out there, but for a good reason. Not particularly difficult or challenging, it pays ok (much better than in the USA!) and it’s mostly evening work – though longer opening hours – especially in big cities like London – now mean you can take shifts whenever you want really. It will give you plenty of time to audition, read scripts, network and even train. Who knows, work for the right catering company and with a bit of luck you might end up serving a famous director who will then hire you. Seriously though, it’s a good skill to have and you never know who you might meet on the job.
This group encompasses another large source of flexible work for actors. In the Spotlight page we mentioned above you will surely find some work of this nature, whether it be representing high-profile clients, staffing events, assisting distribution, raising money for charities…the list is endless and there are some great opportunities to be had here. Reasonably-to-well paid and very flexible, so A+ for us actors!
Another great option, and one that allows to work in a theatre and experience how they operate from the other side. You’ll get to see a ton of free shows, maybe meet the cast and crew of said shows, maybe even network a bit. Fairly well paid and also flexible, this is one of the less “soul crushing” jobs out there.
Directing, Producing, Teching…the list is endless and though it won’t make you rich you will gain enormous experience that will undoubtedly come in handy at some point in your career. Many successful directors today (Rufus Norris and Jeremy Herrin for example) trained and worked as actors before they made the jump to directing.
Like front of house gigs, this is a job that will allow you to be a part of the industry, though perhaps in the capacity you imagined. Nevertheless, meeting your idols, seeing how top professionals work, witnessing great actors prep to go on stage, and with any luck, making superb contacts is probably more than worth it. Just don’t get stuck doing it for long periods of time, keep it casual!
Whether it’s acting, audition prep, sight reading, singing, languages…actors are expected to master many skills and this can be helpful not only in performance but also when looking for work. It’s a phenomenally satisfying feeling to share your accumulated knowledge with others and see them thrive and succeed thanks in part to you. Besides, it will help keep you on your toes and force you to keep your abilities fresh and well developed.
Since I’ve been part of Play Actors I have gained enormous insight into how the industry works and, by extension, on how to best present and market myself as an actor. This has been possible because, as part of a co-op agency, I perform agent duties several times every month. However, I have friends without agents (or who are signed with non co-op ones) who found jobs as casting assistants for a while and agreed that it was an incredibly useful experience. Also, contacts people! And it tends to pay well, though it might be less flexible than other employment options in this list.
Much like the job before this one, if you can manage to nab a spot as an assistant director to someone fairly established or experienced, you might gain priceless knowledge into how things work and, therefore, how best to conduct yourself in order to get work as an actor. Again, it might help you make some great contacts and you’ll get to see pros at work. Acting is a craft and we should always be learning and honing our skills. If you are not working at the moment, what better way to do just that – and earn some cash – than this?
I came across an article today (Soapbox at thestage.co.uk) about an actor who started his own business whilst he wasn’t finding much performing work and who claims that it kept him from going mental. A popular option is a headshots photography company (my own pictures where taken by Alex Guelff, a RADA acting alumni) though again, the options are unlimited. Translating/Proof Reading (I do this myself), Brand consultancy, DJing, Baking, Children’s Entertainment, Catering (Stanislavski Catering Company anyone?)…the sky is the limit.
In our digital age, where we can transmit and connect on a whole new level, and with the increasing quality of and accessibility to cameras and mobile phones, self taping has become another skill for the actor to master. No longer hindered by geographical location and travel expenses, and with productions casting more internationally, the self tape can be a great way to be seen by casting directors who would not have seen you otherwise.
A self tape will never replace the benefits of meeting someone face to face, like the energy and flair you bring to a room, as we use all our senses when forming an impression, whereas a video of you will only engage through sight and sound. That’s why it is so important your sef tape is as compelling as possible, showing your potential and skill and make you come alive on screen!
Here are some tips I have learned on the way…
London is a very diverse city, open to different cultures and backgrounds, but like any other big city it has its rules and quirks, and it might take time for newly arrived international actors to navigate their way within it. Who to contact and how? Which casting websites are worth joining? How about try to produce your own show? And is your English really good enough for castings where you’re just asked to sight read? Is your CV correctly formatted and your headshots right for the UK market? If you move here having already signed with a local agent and having several industry contacts, count yourself lucky. However, if like many of us you make the big move to the city hoping to train/work here but with few connections, here are some basic essential first steps to take to maximize your chances of success…