Finding the Gig: Acting Jobs
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!
My WGU Experience
I spent several years considering my options to become a teacher. Some things that concerned me were making sure I still had time for my family, being sure we were in a good place financially (since you cannot hold a full-time position while student teaching), getting the knowledge and experience that would make me a great educator, and making sure I would be able to pay for this new adventure.
Western Governor's University was something that I had researched as a licensure path for a long time. Their courses are self-paced and when you pay for a term, you can complete as many classes as you want in that six month period. Their pricing is also very reasonable and there are no textbooks to buy. I was even able to apply for a TEACH Grant for my course of study. They also make sure that graduates of their program will be eligible for a teaching license in their state. This can be a little tricky because WGU is based in Utah, but the make absolutely sure that you will able to get a license. Due to this fact, they only offer certain licensures for each state, so do your research.
I earned two Master's with WGU. The first earned me an initial license in teaching Life Science for grades seven through twelve. With observation and student teaching requirement, this took me three terms. The second, let me add Integrated Mathematics for the same grade band. Student teaching experience is greatly abbreviated for already licensed teachers and I was able to complete my second degree in only six months, or one term.
Is WGU right for everyone? Absolutely not. WGU wants you to succeed and assigns a mentor to help keep you accountable. There are also course instructors that reach out to help. Student success resources have a wide range, but if you are not self-motivated, it is easy to not answer calls and emails and let that six months that you are paying for tick away with no progress. You have to want it and be willing to put in the work. This could mean asking for help watching a little one so you can get a test completed, working late after work, or sneaking studies in during breaks. It is doable, but you have to make the commitment to yourself that you will get it done. Again, you are not alone. Your mentor will help you come up with short and long term goals and instructors will support you academically, but you must do the work.
To get through your courses, there are two types of evaluations, or tasks, you may have to complete: objective assessments, performance assessments, or a combination of the two. Objective assessments are like a traditional multiple choice test. Something I love about these assessments is that each has a pretest that you can take and it will help you find what specific areas you need to study. I always liked to take this once, go over questions and areas I missed, then retake the practice test before taking on the real thing. Don't forget, this is a virtual program, so when you are ready to take your assessment, just schedule with the online proctor service, set up your webcam, and complete your assessment in the comfort of your own home. Another great aspect of this program is that these "tests" are graded immediately, no waiting to find out if you passed.
Performance assessments, on the other hand, can encompass a wide variety of written work. You could be submitting observation hours, writing reflection essays, creating lesson plans, or answering a variety of questions. These are completely open book, just be sure to properly cite any sources you use. These do take a little longer to receive feedback because an evaluator will go over the rubric that you are provided when you read the assignment and they will give personalized feedback on the task. Currently, WGU's goal is to get these back to you in 72 hours. If there are any parts that you did not pass right away, you can just fix that area and resubmit the assignment. Questions on why you missed something? This is a great time to reach out to your course instructor for assistance.
This is just a brief synopsis about some of WGU's benefits and how completing a course really works. If you are interested in furthering your education in a variety of subjects (information technology, nursing, business, education, or more), check out wgu.edu. Make sure you get the $65 off application voucher, so you can apply for free. Have your questions ready, because they will contact you ASAP to try to get you all the info you need to find the program that fits your needs. Happy learning!
My Least Favorite Position
As you can see, I've had a little experience in many different fields. There are reasons that I have not continued in many. Sometimes the position was no longer a viable option because I chose to have a family. This was the case with touring for both theatrical and promotional purposes. There were times that I loved my positions, but the contracts ended. Again this is a problem with working long term promotions, theatrical work, and even some educational positions. If the position is discontinued, you will just have to find another. Other times I moved on for other reasons. I left banking to pursue my education in education as well as spend more time at home with my then nursing baby. The position I had working at Target ended because I returned to college for my senior year.
There is one position that I walked away from and never looked back. What was it? Telemarketing.
That's right for one and one-half days I trained and worked making calls for a charity to businesses. It was for a good cause and it was kind of like acting. I mean there was a script, right? It just was not for me. To be perfectly frank, during my calls on my second morning, a gentlemen started yelling at me for calling and asking how I had gotten his number and I had to be rescued by the floor supervisor. I was in tears. They asked if I wanted to take the rest of the day off and I did.
The next day, I called and formally quit the position. I don't like to give up on things and I definitely don't recommend quitting anything, but I knew no amount of money was worth continuing in a position that would make me miserable. You know what? It all worked out. A few days later, I was offered a completely different position. It was one that had some benefits, I excelled in, learned a lot doing, and, most importantly, I enjoyed.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is know when your happiness and your sanity is worth more than a position. Know what you are worth. Happy job hunting!
Direct Sales Drama
Direct sales opportunities get personified as the worst of all pyramid schemes. They were designed to distract unsuspecting homemakers from their honorable duties. They must be stealing time and money from all the vulnerable people out there... But what are they really? There are so many out there. It would be hard for someone to not name a few friends that are involved with one company or another. As always, I have had experiences with several of these companies, but I cannot speak for all companies or all people that work with them.
So when I say several companies.... Let me start by saying I like things that I like and if I like them, of course, I want to share them with others. There are things about every company that I have worked with that I truly enjoyed. That being said, I have been a representative for Pure Romance, Dove Chocolate Discoveries, It Works, Damsels in Defense, Java Mammas, and RevitalU. I still am a rep and still utilize products from RevitalU at this time (revival.com/rayna).
While there were opportunities for the people who recruited me to make extra money because they recruited me, I never thought it took away from what I was doing and I never thought it was undue. If you can sell a sales gig, you deserve a percentage. That is kind of what sales is about.
I was very lucky to appreciate all of the products that I worked with. Very important: Don't sell something that you don't believe in. I can attest to this because I still have my Damsel in Defense stun gun, a few It Works wraps, some Java Mamma coffee, and some...special souvenirs from Pure Romance ;). I love the companies I have worked with and no one should be bullied out of this lifestyle.
Some people don't realize that these "party" platforms are a lifestyle. They give representatives a drive to go out and spend time building connections and making new friends. In this TikTok world, real-life connections are desperately needed. These positions also encourage presentation and communication skills that can be used in any avenue of life. Finally, this opportunity is built on teamwork. I have gained some great friendships by joining a company and working with a team to learn about product and how best to present services.
And never underestimate the importance of...FUN!!!
Most of these companies offer great opportunities for rewards trips, meetups, leadership seminars, and more! Who doesn't need a reason to get up and go somewhere and listen to a few empowering speeches? Even better, who doesn't have time to get some free swag?!?! I mean really! What is a conference without a free sample here, a prize there, a complementary drink, even a nice dinner out?
Most importantly, can the average person make money with any of these companies? Absolutely! I can't say that I have gotten rich off of any single company and I will say that I am currently not working with several that I had a relationship with. I have, however, made money, bought Christmas presents, and gotten through my year because of these opportunities. I do enjoy all these products and if sales, parties, and chatting with new friends is your forte, then, this may be for you.
Go out and explore. If you find something great, why not introduce your friends and family to it? Experience the lifestyle. Don't forget to support your friends doing the same. Join a group, like a post, purchase a stocking stuffer, and feel great that you are supporting a friend!
Banking: Pros & Cons
Have you ever heard of working banker's hours? What does that mean anyway? Let's take a look at available positions that you may find at your local banking branch and some pros and cons that come with the work. Each financial institution is a little different, but they follow government established guidelines. I speak to my experience working in this industry.
When you think of banking, the most common position that comes to mind is usually teller, but there are a multitude of positions. These opportunities have an enormous range and could require no previous training or advanced degrees in finance. More common positions include teller, banker, branch manager, wealth consultant, or loan officer. Other positions within the corporation could include Human Resources experts, call center representative, web design or app developer, marketing and promotional workers, loss prevention, and even training and education specialists. Some of these positions do require you to move to a city where the bank you are working with has a hub, which is something to consider depending on the career pathway that you choose.
I found one of the most difficult parts of banking was that most consumers do not understand how banks work. For instance, banks keep limited amounts of cash on hand to help mitigate losses in the event of a robbery. If you ever want to withdraw a large amount, you should call ahead so the bank can order it in for you.
Another issue was that people don't understand why all bank accounts aren't free. They forget that banks are businesses and they make money based on their services. There are opportunities to waive most bank fees if you have a certain amount on deposit or if you have monthly direct deposits. Banks make money on offering different services, however, since they are able to use funds on deposit to earn interest they are often able to reimburse certain monthly charges. They base their models on making this money on the backend not necessarily on small fees that occur, this is why if you ever have an overdraw charge or a late fee if you call and ask for a customer courtesy waiver, they will often (Not, always, so don't "bank" on it.) refund your charge if the issue was immediately addressed. It never hurts to ask.
Does finance sound like fun? Check out your local banks for openings.
The Best job ever!
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!
There are plenty of college comedies that poke fun at the floor R.A. They are portrayed as always ruining the fun and perhaps even being a bit of a tattletale. If this is true, why would anyone ever do it? Let's explore what an R.A., or a Resident Assistant, does and why it might be a great opportunity.
What is an R.A.?
In college residence halls, an R.A. is an upperclass student that lives on the floor and has a variety of responsibilities. While some may view this position as an annoyance, their goal is really to create a safe community on the floor. This can be done through a variety of ways some of which may be required by your school. As always, I know that each school is a little different and job requirements may fluctuate, however, I will speak about my experience in this position.
In my role, we had specific weekly, monthly, and yearly requirements. Every year, we would assist in opening and closing of the building for the school year and all breaks. We would also provide door tags for each resident at the beginning of the year. Monthly, we were required to put up at least one bulletin board and conduct at least one program. We also would attend a full staff inservice. Weekly, we would be assigned duty nights where we would do rounds in the build every couple hours to make sure rules were being followed and everyone was being safe and we had a few office hours scheduled during the day to help with visibility and administrative tasks. We also had one-on-one and staff meetings with our supervisor each week.
One of the most important parts of this position is to be available to assist your students. Those living in the halls can have any variety of concerns and you are a frontline resource to help them find the best way to get their answers. Just like the title says, you are there to assist everyone in having a great year!
Why should you consider becoming an R.A.?
First, R.A. looks great on a resume. It shows that not only did you complete your own college courses, but you were able to assisted others. You have a track record of being a responsible mentor. You have probably also mediated your fair share of roommate conflicts and developed excellent communication skills.
Next, the position can be quite lucrative. Compensation for this work varies from school to school. During my time working as an R.A., I received a double room to myself and a small monthly stipend. Just the savings on the room alone can be worth the work. Having that room to yourself is a great added bonus!
Finally, I really enjoyed the aspects of being an R.A. Creating fun and educational programs for the residents of my floor to enjoy was one of my favorite pastimes. I loved to plan the events and create invitations and marketing for them. It was always exciting to see my students building bonds and friendships throughout the year. Some of my residents were even inspired to become R.A.s themselves. I was able to head up the committee to recruit new R.A.s each year. I loved the quiet time in the buildings during openings and closings. The best part, however, was bonding with fellow staff members.
Are you attending college and looking for a great experience? Reach out to your R.A. to find out more!
Taking on Teaching
Are you thinking of teaching full-time? Many individuals find this to be a rewarding position and spend their entire working lives in this field. Schools are everywhere, even online, so there are an abundance of opportunities. There are several key points to consider, however, before pursuing this career path. For the best information, check out your state's Department of Education website. I will discuss my experience which may not be the same for all individuals.
Who do you want to teach?
Depending on the licensure that you are seeking, most are divided by grade level, content, or both. There is a huge range of licenses available and each has a different preparation process and a different amount of available opportunities. It is especially important to consider which positions are in high demand if you are committed to a certain geographical region. For instance, I qualify for a supplemental licensure in teaching drama, but, sadly, there are no positions that require that license in my area.
Are you ready to put in the hours?
Many take one look at teaching and only see the "summers off." Rarely do people account for all the hours that teachers actually put in. Day to day hours also include lesson planning, grading, and administrative duties in addition to actual teaching time. Educators are also asked to take on tasks like after-school detention, lunch duties, or other supervisory assignments. They could also be supporting students through extracurricular activities; including, sports, arts, class advisors, or any number of other clubs. Finally, just because you have your teaching license doesn't mean that you are done learning. Teachers must constantly be taking classes and earning continuing education credits to be able to keep their license current.
What is the best way to earn your license?
In my state, there are several options to earn your teaching license depending on if you are approaching the field as a first career or changing fields. If you are just starting out, most four year colleges offer an education degree. You do need to check to see which specific licenses they support. This can change over time. When I was in college getting my bachelor's, my school offered a program for those who were pursuing a license to teach drama or theatre. Now, that university no longer supports that licensure path, though they still help students get licenses in early education or those who hope to teach certain subjects in high school. This is another reason that it is important to decide what and who you want to teach. Not every school offers every license.
There are a few different opportunities for those changing careers to earn a teaching license. Going back to get an education bachelors is always an option. If you already have a B.A. or B.S. or B.F.A, you may be able to apply for alternative licensure or gain licensure through a post-bachelor or masters program.
The alternative program is offered through the state and is a relatively low cost option to learn the educational theories needed to teach specific subjects. These may include, but are not limited to: high school math, social studies, language arts, or science. All of this is based on what credits you have earned with your initial degree. Post-bach and master's programs are also excellent options and can help you start out at an increased salary, depending on your school district's contract.
Remember, no matter what path you take there will be a student teaching component. This is several weeks of full-time teaching. It is time-consuming and includes having your teaching evaluated and often a large written component submitted. Know that if you are working another job, you will probably not be able to continue it at this time.
Be sure to explore all your options before deciding the best route for you. Certain grants or loan forgiveness opportunities are also available for those who are licensed in a field of high need and work in a low income district. Beware, the schools on this list fluctuate from year to year (https://studentaid.gov/tcli/). Do your research.
My path, as you may have noticed, is a little different from most. I had B.A.s in Theatre and Interdepartmental Science and a decade of varied work experience when I decided to pursue teaching. At that time, I thought the best option was to go through Western Governors University's M.A. Teaching, Science Education (Secondary) program. (Check out my graduation speech!) This allowed me an initial licensure in Life Science for grades 7-12. I, then, took a few classes with the University of Findlay to add Integrated Science to my license. Finally, when the pandemic hit, I took the time to make myself as marketable as possible by completing a second masters with WGU. This time I added Integrated Mathematics to my credentials.
There are a multitude of opportunities out there! Good luck learners!
Baby A: Part 4
As we approached the time to make the announcement, the world seemed in need of a little good news. On Christmas Eve, we lost my great-aunt, who was the sister to my grandfather who we had lost in January 2020. It was this grandfather whose birthday was the twins' due date. Upon hearing the news, I texted my cousin, my great-aunt's daughter, and let here know I was expecting. I was hoping maybe the joy of two new souls as we lost two would be comforting.
Christmas morning, however, still wasn't quite as joyful as I hoped. Getting up with big sister and discovering overflowing stockings and gifts from Santa was thrilling for all, but when we were getting ready to head to my mom's for festivities, I went to set down some gifts that we were taking and...Ouch! I pulled something in my back. Now, I had had back issues before and I know it's a matter of time, Tylenol, heat, and Bengay, it was just a disappointing event. Luckily, mom picked up big sister and brought back Christmas dinner.
A few days later, I was still having pain and on top of the exhaustion of this pregnancy I wasn't sure what to do. I attended the viewing for my great-aunt and felt like I could barely breathe sitting through it. The next morning, New Year's Eve, as we were prepping lunch before the funeral, I decided to call the doctor.
I called in and explained what had happened. I added that the pain had seemed to extend to my left side. I also noted that I had been tracking my weight gain and wrist circumference and both had increase dramatically in the last week. The nurse on the phone just laughed and said that most people didn't keep track of things so well. I informed the nurse that I was at 24 weeks with twins and wasn't sure if all this was a normal growth spurt or if I should come in to get checked out. She asked when my next appointment was (four days later) and how I would rate my pain (Who knows? What is just before tears? Maybe a 7.). She said oh well we close at noon today, so if your pain reaches an 8 go to the emergency room...
I though, perhaps I am just being a wimp, but I am not sure how the next four months are going to go. Needing some cheering, I posted my pregnancy announcement for the world to see, or at least my Facebook friends, I hunkered down, tried to relax, and asked my boss if I could work from home the morning of the appointment until I could get some answers. Thankfully, he was agreeable. Part of me wondered if the doctor would put me on bedrest.
Meanwhile, my husband, who pre-pandemic had traveled extensively for work, was preparing to leave for a meeting in Chicago the day before the appointment. We have had lots of experience being apart and usually it is not a concern, but this time with both expressed unease as his absence. It was a little disappointing because this would be the first baby appointment that he had missed. Not to skip work unnecessarily, I arranged for my father to take me to my appointment, told my husband not to worry, and asked my grandmother to come watch big sister.
How I Started Touring
Or as my mother would call it, How I Ran Away with the Circus.
I have had the opportunity to tour under a couple different job titles. I had a theatre background, but I got my first touring job through a marketing company. I had been working in promotions consistently for about a year when I got an interview for a performing position. A marketing company was looking through their pool of promotional models for those with acting experience to help a company do some internal training. I applied and was thrill to be the youngest selected to be one of four touring trios. This was a short term position, but helped me to put "touring experience" on my resume.
It all happened very fast. I got the official call and the next morning, I was on a plane to Duluth to learn a new position and join the tour. I was able to be a "plush cart operator" for the remainder of the tour, so I sold toys and lights to little kids. In my downtime, I would try to watch the show load in and learn from the technicians. I made a little money and a lot of friends and headed home five months later with a greatly enhanced resume and a focus on spending as much time learning in local theatre as I could.
Never underestimate the power of networking, flexibility, and a drive to learn.
Rayna Moore -
© 2021 by Rayna Moore