July 21, 2024

You’ve heard it before…

I had a chat with a newly graduated young actor recently and he told me he was going to go ‘full out’ next year to see what would eventuate. It took me back to being a fresh graduate of a year long screen course in Sydney and also to being a fresh grad in LA after a full time 3 year program. 

As you can imagine – both were similar experiences but also vastly different. 

Firstly, It is virtually impossible to be a full time actor. Period. Now you may be thinking – Nell that is simply not true. What about such and such (insert A list celebrity) and yes there may be a handful of select A listers, B listers etc who are making enough income to sustain themselves as an actor. But statistically – those people my have had family within the business, a leg up by having a lot of good connections, wealthy family, the list goes on. Or the other likely probability is they were close to poverty when they booked their huge gig, or they may end up with no job for a period of years etc. And if you are like I was – so stubborn to find out how things work the hard way… by all means be my guest. Be a bar-tender until your big break comes along. I HOPE that is the way it goes for you.  

However… if you want to be smart and potentially a little cautious. Read on. 

When you make the decision to go for it, sometimes what you say to yourself is “I’ll give it my all next year and see what happens”. This can be a great thing but I often see people get disheartened after a set period of time or worse – people spend quite a lot of hard earned dollars to get themselves set up so to speak. For example hundreds or thousands of dollars on new equipment, or headshots, or a studio space or fill in the blank.

I’ve heard it so many times over the years and it really is true if you have your heart set on being an artist. It is indeed a marathon and not a sprint. 

I like this term of currency mindset. What it means is that instead of paying for things you want – instead think of what could you trade? 

Could you lend your time or skills to someone and they could do the same in return? It took me ages to get this concept and to use it often. 

For example: Instead of paying for brand new swanky headshots when you are still new to the business – could you get your gifted friend to test out some looks on an iphone and in exchange you could spend time helping her fix her website? Or instead of taking on a lease for a studio to work in could you do some research and offer a few hours a week to do a studio’s admin in exchange for access to their equipment. Or instead of paying for classes – can you instead work for the studio in return for free or discounted class? 

What I’m saying is get creative with how you spend money on your craft early on. Don’t take the first offer – do your research and figure out if you can actually get something for less or cheaper. I want to encourage you to start thinking about your talent like a business – money out money in. 

Yes of course you’re thinking ‘Well Nell I have to spend money to make money right?’ and yes that can be true to a degree. And if you’re looking to spend money – trust me you will. This industry is full of ways to spend money on your career. 

It can be very tempting to dosh out a lot of money that can sustain you to get yourself set up so to speak when what could be smarter is to spend as little as you can until money starts to trickle in and then you can reinvest that money into your talent. Otherwise it’s just an expensive hobby. 

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