Two-thirds of Actors are out of work right now. If you live in Denmark you could receive an annual stipend of between 15,000 and 149,000 Danish Krone (£1,750 – £17,000) and if you’re French you could take full advantage of a much more generous arts council style funding system. If you’re not from those countries you’re not so lucky.
Composer Philip Glass continued subsidising his income driving a taxi until he was 41 and Joy Division’s Ian Curtis worked in the unemployment office until 1979 when their first LP ‘Unknown Pleasures’ was released. ‘Parks & Recreation’ star Nick Offerman had a woodwork business alongside his acting for many years. It is commonplace for those without vast savings or wealthy parents to find work elsewhere whilst they wait for performing jobs.
1. Call Centres
It may not sound like the most exciting work, but working in a call centre can allow for flexibility. There is a particular employer called RSVP which is recommended by Surviving Actors and exclusively employs actors for the unique qualities they bring to the workplace. They recognise that an actor is able to bring an element of performance to their calls and in return they apply a flexible approach to shifts, allowing actors to attend last minute auditions and rehearse when necessary.
Working in an arts venue whether its a gallery, theatre or cinema allows you to keep aware of the goings on in your industry and you never know when a career relevant opportunity or idea may come up. This work can be flexible when on a part-time basis and is generally enjoyable.
3. Social Media Assistant
As an Actor the chances are that you have some basic website and social media maintenance knowledge. Why not build on it for some freelance work?
Start out by taking some online courses to build your knowledge and reading up courtesy of your local library. Build up some unpaid experience by offering your services to fellow performers, friends and family. Once you’ve got some testimonials and a CV start advertising to paying clients.
Becoming a part-time teaching assistant for a local drama class can be a way of making sure you don’t get rusty between jobs. You could also think about launching your own business, but bear in mind that this will likely require more time and dedication which you’re unlikely to have if you’re still looking out for acting work.
Driving jobs can be flexible depending on the work. Long haul driving is very demanding and probably not suitable for an actor but driving a taxi on a self-employed basis can allow you to chose your own hours. You will require a taxi licence and there are certain criteria you must meet.
6. Promotional Work
Ever wondered the story behind those people who demonstrate products in shopping centres and at conventions? They’re promo people and a large percentage are likely to be actors between jobs.
There are specialist agencies for promotional work. You simply respond when work comes up near you. Depending on where you live the work availability can be patchy, but the work itself can be fun and it allows you to use the communication skills you’ve acquired as an actor.
7. Research Assistant
Researching is an essential part of acting as its unlikely that you have direct experience of what each character is experiencing or how they live. Why not use that skill for an extra income?
Professors, politicians, writers, film and TV production houses often require research assistants. If you know of a local professional studying a particular field which piques your interest offer to assist them with their research.
8. Temping Agency
Temping in offices can work if you know there will be at least a week of no auditions or acting work. This is not flexible in terms of last minute auditions as you will be expected to work a minimum of 9am – 5pm but the pay is good if you know you’re having a dry spell for acting work.
9. Waiting Staff
Waiting tables is the classic acting between job. If you land a good employer and generous colleagues willing to swap shifts it can be ideal, though it is often a stressful environment and can be inflexible at times.
10. Bar Work
Students are big fans of bar work as it allows them to focus on their studies in the day. In the same way actors are free to attend auditions and take acting jobs in the day. This work can also be quite flexible if your colleagues are willing to swap shifts or you work on a part-time basis.