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 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!
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!
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.
Gig Life: Promo Style
Need something flexible. either full or part-time? Promotional marketing may be for you. Never heard of promotional marketing? Have no marketing background? Have never seen anyone in this position? Actually, you don't need any training and you've seen people in these positions all over the place.
Ever gotten a sample of a new product at a fair, gotten to try a new liquor from branded representatives at a bar or club, or visited a booth to enter for a prize? The people working these events likely have no affiliation with the brand they are representing. They are simply hired for the shift of for the length of the event.
Promotional or event marketing companies hire people to work on a short term basis to represent a product or service. There are many different job titles out there that have slightly different job descriptions, but fall under the promo gig umbrella. The basic position entails wearing a specific uniform, learning brand information to share with consumers, and often helping the the set up and teardown of the event. Here are just a few brands that I have worked with and titles I have had.
Promo Gig F.A.Q.s
How much should I make?
This depends on the position. If you are working a single event, you could make between $16 and $40 per hour. Depending on the client and location, you may also be reimbursed for parking, receive gas money or drive time, or be provided with lodging. It all depends on the client. Make sure to read all the details before accepting a position.
On a long term position as a tour manager? Expect to make $800-$1200 a week on average. These positions often come with added benefits and of course, travel!
What types of brands are hiring?
Did you see my list? All of them!!!
How do I get hired for these positions?
Seek out staffing companies and start creating profiles with each of them. You can also look for these types of positions on job boards or even in Facebook groups. I found my first one on Craigslist (yes, really.). Make sure you have a great, recent, natural headshot and full-body shot to submit to clients.
What will get me fired or blacklisted?
Not following instructions, taking unschedule breaks, smoking in uniform, discussing pay, and bad attitude can all be factors in not asking you to return. Most importantly, always show up. The best way to get ousted from the promo business is to miss a scheduled event and not let your contact know. This is known as a "no call/no show."
How often can I work?
This is totally up to you. These positions are available year-round all over the country, so the amount you work is up to you. Be courteous, work hard, and follow directions and local managers will be more likely to refer you for future work. Just make sure you are organized. Keep an accurate calendar of your work and the sky is the limit.
Rayna Moore -
© 2021 by Rayna Moore