Navigating the Hustle: Actor Friendly Jobs

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I am the queen of the job hustle. Since I decided to live the life of a performer, I have learned that not every work place is flexible with our ever changing audition schedule. Through extensive research (Me getting hired and fired A LOT in jobs that were not the right fit), I have discovered a few thrival jobs that have stood the test of time during my tenure as an actress. Here are some of my favorite jobs that value you being the incredible performer that you are.

Standardized Patient
For those of you that remember the Seinfeld episode where Kramer plays a standardized patient with a group of med students while smoking, that is one of my freelance gigs minus the cigarette. Unlike the wacky Kramer interpretation of what a SP does, I play a series of patient cases in a variety of programs for several teaching hospitals in New York City. The simple breakdown of what we do is actors are hired to play mock patients to the nursing and medical students preparing them for the real world. I love this job when I get to do it! I get to play a variety of characters ranging from a teenager girl coming in for a physical who needs a good talk about contraception to a 62 year old woman who is a host of every horrible disease you find on WebMD. Actors improvise with these students with a guideline of prompts that are stated in the case you get, so it’s not like the fun and lively improv class at the UCB. You do get to use all that sense memory training when it comes to getting appendicitis.

How to get this job:
Most medical schools that have a simulation program have a person doing the casting for their schools. You will have to do a bit of hunting on their website to find out how to submit. You can also ask a friend who is working as a standardized patient to refer you but it will take awhile to get an interview. Most centers will have a casting at certain times of the year so just ask when making a cold inquiry when is the best time to reach out if they are not hiring at the moment.

Brand Ambassador
Promotional Model. Spokesperson. BA. These are all relatively the same kind of job in the world of Event Promotions. One week you can be hired for a weekend standing outside a flagship store handing out discount coupons, the next you are dressed as a zombie for the latest Walking Dead season premiere scaring the living Christ out of pedestrians as your onsite manager is snapping photos for social media. The best thing about this work is that it is temporary and at most times, fun. Even though you get hired as a performer because of your sparkling personality, most companies won’t tolerate you being late or canceling for auditions. A lot of money has been shelled out for the team you are on and everyone in this world knows each other so word gets around quickly on your reliability for future work. With that said, this can be the dream sideline work you have been looking for and with the right attitude and relationship building you can easily be flown all over the country to be a trade show model. Tre fancy!

How to get this job:
There are plenty of agencies that have you fill out online profiles and you can submit for work right off their website. You can even look for Brand Ambassadors or Promotional Models right off Craigslist. Just know Craigslist listings get over a 100 submissions in the first half hour of it appearing on the site. Promo companies even list castings on Casting Network. Ideally, you want to meet someone face to face and build that same type of positive working relationship with managers and clients as you would with being on a television set. You will always get hired back because people always remember you if you are amazing and easy to work with in any environment.

CPR instructor
I came back to NYC after a tour and needed to get a good flexible job that didn’t break my back. I was bitching about my deep seeded hatred for the service industry to my fellow actor friends and one woman piped up saying “I don’t know if you would be interested in this but I teach CPR and the pay is good”. I immediately said yes and applied right away with a boutique company that liked to hire actors. Any kind of job sounded attractive compared to waiting tables. I was not a happy server and spent many a shift writing down my dreams on bar napkins waiting for the shift to be over. Little did I know that teaching CPR would be one of my favorite side line careers. Now going into my 10th year as an American Heart BLS instructor, I have learned so much from teaching life saving skills in every inch of this city that I secretly apply some techniques in my acting work. I know it was one of the reasons I got booked on Orange Is The New Black as a nurse. Day jobs make for great research!

How to get this job:
Take a class! See if this is a job you would excel in before you apply. If you like it and want to get certified to instruct, you can search companies in your area on the American Heart Association website. I currently work with Training for Life and they have a number of trainers all over the country. Just know you will first go through some training time and a trial period before getting paid for teaching, which could be anywhere from 3 to 6 months.

You can check out the American Heart Association here: http://www.heart.org/

Party entertainer
On weekends, sometimes I work as a children’s party entertainer AKA clown. Yup, I go by the name Giggles and this year opened my own part time business called Welcome to Clowntown here in NYC. Being a clown is certainly not for every performer needing work. I discovered my first clown job back in Tallahassee, Florida when I was a student at Florida State. College kids never have money and I had only the skills of a theater major performing Chekov in scene study, so being a clown seemed to be a great option for beer money!

When I moved to New York, I looked for clown companies in the area by opening the phone book and picking the biggest ad I could find. I was hired trained by one of the top clowns in the city and did that until my life changed course. Many moons later in Los Angeles, I was looking for a job during the recession and an actress in a showcase I was doing announced she was looking for adorable and reliable girls to be clowns for her company. Two years of working all over the Los Angeles area gave me the training and the confidence that I carry with me today! Plus, it makes great cocktail conversation when you tell someone you are a clown.

How to get this job:

This is a Google hunt for sure, but if this sounds like a resounding yes as you read this, I can recommend a few clown companies that are owned and operated by top notch women.

Tegan Ashton Cohan owns Daizy the Clown & Company in the heart of Hollywood, CA. Great quality entertainment where you can be a clown one gig and a beautiful princess the next! If you have a lot of availability, you could be working every weekend all over the area. Make sure you have a good car and know your way around enough that if your cell phone won’t work you can still get to a gig with plenty of time to spare. For hiring inquiries go to http://www.daizyclowns.com

Leslie Hellman owns Ladybug the Clown and Caption Leslie Science parties which operate in the Pasadena, CA. Her performers are all over the Los Angeles area as well and she helms these cool science parties in both schools and home events. To see if she is bringing on entertainers for the new year, you can go to http://www.captainladybug.com

If you are in New York, I will be doing my first official hiring in the Spring just after pilot season. So reach out at the end of March if you are interested in creating a clown and making balloons for the little ones. You can go to www.welcometoclowntown.com for details this Spring.

Whatever floats money into your bank account, just be sure it is something you really like doing.

I love hearing about cool and interesting jobs, so feel free to leave in the comments below what kinds of cool jobs help you in your pursuit of making your acting career happen!

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Tanya Perez

About Tanya Perez

Tanya Perez is an actress, writer & activist currently living in NYC. Notable TV and film credits include Orange Is the New Black, Jessica Jones, Blue Bloods, Madam Secretary & Hal Hartley's Ned Rifle opposite Parker Posey. Her most notable stage appearances were in Seattle Rep's production of Anna in the Tropics, Sonia Flew at both CATF and Laguna Playhouse, and her sold-out solo show at the Downtown Urban Theatre Festival at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Comedy content creation has brought her web series Itty P & DJ Model-T nominations for two StayTuned TV-ITVF awards for Best Comedy and Best Actress in a Comedy, her comedy short, Peep Show, was an official selection at the 2018 Women in Comedy HBO Insider Competition, her short, Veronica, is up for 6 award nominations for the 2018 Story Mode Shorts Festival, winning Best Actress and will be premiering at Cannes 2018. She has received an Audioverse Award nomination in writing in Cocotazo’s CAT festival. Not only that, she is also incredibly talented with balloons, laughs inappropriately during movies, and loves her four-legged roommate Tia Tortilla. Proud member of NYWIF, Brown Girls Doc Mafia, SAGAFTRA & Actors Equity.