Young Actor: Skills for the self-employed

September 20th, 2013 by Sit up a Tree

The first part in our Personal Development Tips and Skills for the Young Actor series.



Today: Self-employment Skills


As an actor and young person beginning in the creative industries, one of the phrases I hear more than any other is “And what’s your back-up plan? You know… In case the acting doesn’t work out.” This phrase is one which, for many, sparks fierce defensiveness. I hate this question as it immediately assumes my failure. BUT, there is something to take from the idea of a back-up. If you flip the term “back-up” and view it as a kind of “supporting role” to help keep you afloat WHILE you do your job, it seems a lot better.



I have maintained that I would work as a waitress if it meant supporting my dream job. I do use the term waitress metaphorically to say that I will do a job that doesn’t give me as much satisfaction if it means I can support MY job. The thing for you to do is to find what your “supporting role job” will be – and preferably make it something you can do with a smile on your face.


For me, I work in a number of areas to keep myself with a positive bank balance (and make the extra odd buck). I’m a television extra, I work in admin and I write articles, such as this, to keep the money coming in. No job is as fulfilling as acting, but I can enjoy any of these jobs and they mean that I can support my long-term goal of being able to live purely off earnings from acting.


When in doubt about what I am doing, I keep in mind something I learnt while I was at drama school:


“When the hero gets to their destination, the story ends, that tells us that we need to appreciate our own journeys as much as when the battle is won.”


It is often difficult to enjoy being on the road, it is hard work and we are never truly sure if we’re ever going to make it to our goal, but trying to make the best is an invaluable skill.


So many young actors, filmmakers or creatives stick to an “I’m only ever going to do this. I don’t care if I starve, I’m not doing another job.” Idea, for fear it will waste their time or consume their whole lives away. The trick is to try and find supporting jobs which are understanding of your primary focus or are easy to leave quickly. A good area that I have been told to aim for time and time again is bar work, but I prefer the easier method of freelance jobs that allow me to work from home rather then get doused in beer.


Do not be afraid to do other jobs to support your dreams, otherwise they may stay just dreams because you have been too proud to use other means to stay afloat.



     It isn’t failure unless you are no longer trying.


Please feel free to leave your replies to this article and let us know if this piece has helped you on your path to success! Good luck!


This entry was posted on Friday, September 20th, 2013 at 12:05 am and is filed under Personal Development, Productivity, Work, Young Actor. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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