Side Hustles for Actors

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Cinema Bandit is devoted to supplying young and new filmmakers with resources, articles, and interviews to help artists develop themselves creatively and professionally.

You’re an actor. You’re out there and you’re busting your hump trying to make ends meet
while pursuing your dream. You get a callback on an audition and think finally… finally.
Now the opportunity is at hand. Except when they want you to come in is right in the middle of a 9-to-5 you can’t quit that comes complete with a boss who not only hates the job as much as you do but takes perverse pleasure in nailing you to your seat where possible.

So long, the lead role in Major Motion Picture: The Movie. How do we deal with this? The brutal truth is the film industry is a heartless machine, one that regularly churns fresh-faced optimism and passion into cynicism so acidic phallic aliens could pump it through their veins. It toughens a person up because you get used to rejection. That’s part of the game and it’s something that can ultimately be managed.

Management by someone else, though, someone who doesn’t understand why you’ve
chosen this path, is extra stress we just don’t need. Fortunately, there are ways around
this. Depending on how you look at it, working side hustles to pay the bills can sharpen
your craft as well as your character. Learning how to be your own boss and making things work for you is central to survival in the filmmaking business. Passion for the craft will see you through.

So what kinds of gigs can we find to help us? This being the “sharing” or “gig” economy,
there are fortunately many avenues to part-time or full-time work that will allow you
some measure of control over bill-paying and passion-fulfilling. Driving for Uber or Lyft is an option that jumps out immediately. It’s something you can build around auditions, acting classes and whatever else you need to be doing in bettering your craft. Finished with an audition? Or even a shoot? If you’re up to it, you just hit the road and start searching for fares.

There are requirements for this kind of work, though. You have to own a specific kind of
car and you must be insured. For those of us living in the city, this may be a challenge, but the benefits are there. Uber and Lyft drivers make between $360 and $380 on average a month, but you can certainly make more depending on how much you drive.
Driving comes with the added benefit of meeting people too. As actors, we’re all out to get a better sense of just how varied people can be in their attitudes and personalities. It’s another way to observe and interact with the bustling world around us.

Another side gig that’s a big dive into the “real world” is dog walking. If you’re an animal
lover and you live in a big metropolitan area, it seems like a no-brainer. Quite often you’ll see people walking four or five dogs at a time. It can add up. Depending on where you’re located, you can make at least $45,000 a year doing it. And you get the added benefit of being immersed in the world around you. Situations involving random people develop before your eyes. You gain further insight into people and the worlds they inhabit.

Frankly, though, driving in the city, walking dogs and training people is not for everyone.
Some of us may just not have that physicality or the awareness (or nerves!) for that kind
of work. No shame in that. There’s a lot out there for more easy-going types.

Are you a native English speaker? You could teach the language online. You may need a
TEFL certificate to work for some companies (and it may net you more money), but often
you just need to know the language. In a world growing more globally connected by the
second, speaking English is as quickly becoming more important internationally.

One huge benefit of teaching English online is being able to do it remotely. Just turn your
computer on, make sure you have a solid internet connection, a good microphone and
webcam and you’re good to go. You’ll also be working with people from all over the world, so once again you’re opening yourself up to a wide variety of experiences. English teachers can make up to $40,000 a year.

These are all jobs that will get you out and about in the world. Alongside classic actor side gigs (such as bartending, working at coffee shops or as diner waiters/waitresses), these are professions that will offer some level of control over the time you spend fighting to plunk down for life’s necessities. It’s hard to live this way, but when your passion and artistic drive comes first these balancing acts become challenges we can live with.

Good luck! Keep that creative fire burning.
Uber/Lyft info

Uber/Lyft requirements

Dog walking info

Teach English online

Adam D. Johnson is a New York-based writer and filmmaker with a taste for the weird. When he’s not writing, reading or watching appropriately strange films, he’s usually hanging around odd artists and performers. He also really digs traveling. Contact with him on Instagram

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