No, I have never lived in L.A., New York, or even Chicago.
No, I have never had an agent.
No, I have never been part of an actor's union.
Have I been paid to act? YES!!!
There are many variables that go into performing positions and many people have different end goals. I have had the privilege of performing live, in films, and in commercials. Did they all pay a living wage? No, not all of them, but there are definitely opportunities for people who want them. Now, I write about opportunities and experiences that I have had. Your path may not be the same.
First, you need to decide what an acting position is to you. If you have read my "Best Job Ever" post, you have heard about a position where I was able to perform for a three month contract in relation to a promotional position. I have also had an opportunity to learn a script and perform shows live that most people would label a sales position. Most acting work is one gig at a time whether it is the length of filming a movie or a fun job I had working on a series of commercials. One position I particularly enjoy is working as a standardized patient where I act like I have certain conditions and follow a scenario(improv experience helps here) to help train a variety of students in the medical field. There are also traditional acting positions in stage productions, tv, film, or even web series.
Next, you need to figure out how far you are willing to travel and what compensation you will require. This is totally up to you if you are freelancing and have no union or agent, so decide what you want. You may also want to consider what experience you have. You may be willing to work a few gigs for copy, credit, and concessions if you are working to build a reel.
Then, practice, practice, practice! Acting classes, improv classes, memory work - you need to build up your skills and be prepared to learn quickly and perform. This work can help you expand your abilities. You never know when you will need a British or Irish accent...(Yes, I have performed with both). Any skills that you can add to your resume could help you be cast, and don't be tempted to add things you've never done unless you are prepared to master them quite quickly...(Don't do it!)
Now, it is time to look for positions. I keep profiles on a variety of job sites that help me submit for jobs and get booked. Yes, you need a headshot and a resume for this. Some of these sites include IMDB, Backstage, and even CraigsList. I cannot underestimate the importance of safety here. Make sure you have back up. Make sure people know where you are, ask for portfolios, do your research to make sure you are not put in a dangerous position! Another great place to look for positions, if you are building a reel, if to check out local colleges and look for student film postings. There are also a plethora of acting groups on Facebook that you can check into depending on your region. Most importantly, never underestimate the power or networking! I can't tell you how many positions I was awarded because I knew someone who knew someone.
Finally, be ready! I have had last minute gigs come up, like same day last minute. I have needed to have a monologue in my back pocket. The more flexible you are and the more ready to perform, the more you may have the opportunity to book.
Enjoy your hunt!
There are so many options for positions these days that you can really focus on what you love and where you are appreciated. It is not like our ancestors where they signed on for one position and it seemed like a death march until the end. We really have been presented with the ability to explore. That is just what I have done.
The best job ever...at least that I have gotten so far, was this: I was hired by a promotional marketing company for an acting gig! I was so excited. Even when they booked my plane ticket out, I was a little suspicious. Would this really be a performance position where I actually made money?
Now, something that makes most promotional marketing positions so lucrative is their timeliness. This position was a tour, but it only lasted for the summer(Yup, three months.). One of the amazing caveats was that the fourth of July was in the middle of tour and the staffers were afraid that if we went on break that we wouldn't come back. To keep that from happening they paid us to stay on over the holiday.
So, other than being paid to stick with a company, what made this position so wonderful? Well, being well compensated for one's time always helps. Having great benefits is perk too. While this wasn't a long term position that allowed for insurance benefits, I did receive per diem, a phone allowance, and even a stipend for doing laundry (since we had to clean our own costumes). There were many other great perks. While working this tour, I had access to a rental vehicle. Also, we were traveling, which I love! The program paid our hotel costs and also lent us extras(like breakfasts). We were provided a certain amount of reimbursement for our uniform costs, too.
This tour was one of my favorites because while we had a difficult schedule and had a lot of physical labor to support our goal, we were truly appreciated and got a great deal of joy out of educating our audience and working with our peers. We were able to do what we loved! We were all able to perform. We also taught those around us. With the time on tour, we experienced many diverse events as well. We traversed the St. Louis arch, swam with manatees in Florida, and tasted Phillies at Primate Bros.
If you think these things sound amazing, check out touring options now! Good luck!
Rayna Moore -
© 2021 by Rayna Moore