Surviving in Hollywood by Selling Your Soul

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The lack of money is the root of all-evil. ~Mark Twain

Unless you are incredibly fortunate, choosing to pursue your dream in the dramatic arts, no matter in what capacity, is going to be a long, arduous road.

So then, let’s talk about making a living while you are busy designing your life.

The survival job.

Waiting tables, slinging drinks, retail, dog walking… one can literally search, “survival jobs in the entertainment industry” on the internet and thousands upon thousands of listings will pop up for the “would be celebrity or Hollywood power player” waiting for their big break.

But living in Hollywood is ultra expensive, not to mention, headshots, demo reels, promotional materials, workshops and all the tools needed to raise your chances in this cut throat field. Most of these “thrival jobs” are nothing more than minimum wage — if you are lucky, plus tips.

What to do?

Scattered industry professionals linger at a backyard barbecue in West Hollywood, California. Aspiring actors, actresses, models, writers, directors — everyone eager to network at the social event; hoping for the ever-elusive “connection” that could possibly lead to a real role in something, legitimate representation, financing – anything to lend a boost to achieve the seemingly impossible….

Skimming the surface of a kidney shaped pool, blood red manicured toes generate rolling ripples on the water.

Nursing a beer straight from the bottle, a lithesome, 20-something, red head glances back at the party of Hollywood hopefuls… uninterested in the possible networking opportunities; she finishes off her beer and continues to play with the water.

Fresh off of the Greyhound bus from somewhere deep in the Bible belt, this young woman is under the distinct impression that this event is beneath her. You see, in the three weeks that she’s been in Hollywood, this “would-be” starlet has already done the seemingly impossible for most young, unconnected aspiring thespians.

  • Secured a rent-free room to live in, in an upscale neighborhood in Beverly Hills.
  • Headshots taken by a premiere photographer
  • Landed a reputable, mid-level agent who signed her across the board. (‘across the board’ meaning for theatrical and commercial representation)
  • Had a professional demo reel made showcasing her acting skills
  • Is actively auditioning for commercials and film and television

How could this be?

She must be a brilliant and gifted actress? Shows potential, but more like untrained and very green.

She must be stunningly gorgeous? Well… a little on the trashy side, but definitely attractive.

So what is it then?

Anyone who has been in this town for even a short amount of time would acknowledge that these are not easy tasks to accomplish even given several years time, let alone three weeks! Let’s start with the “free” room and go from there…

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Nothing in life is free. This young woman may not be paying cash money for a place to live, but she’s paying. Enter the much older “creepazoid” and creator of such an ad.

Fifty-something, wealthy and “connected” in the Hollywood game, this self proclaimed “mentor” finds nothing wrong with this sort of exchange. In his eyes, it’s an even exchange of services with the added bonus of a little boost with your career in Hollywood if that is what you are seeking.

But, who cares about this so-called man, let’s get back to our ingénue.

Stars in her eyes, she came to Hollywood seeking to “get rich and famous.” Was this her first mistake?

Limos, bling and designer clothes… the jet set lifestyle looks very attractive when watching it on television from your couch. But is this dream ever attainable for the average, impressionable young person?

Is the media sending the wrong message to our youth by glamorizing the idea of becoming “rich and famous” via a scandalous sex tape? Or by degrading oneself on a demoralizing reality TV show?

There was a time when pursuing a career in show business meant studying your craft, unpaid internships on sets – partaking in ‘the grind’ in order to be at the top of your game and ready for your big break if and when it ever comes.

To be fair, there are many up-and-comers doing these things Hollywood. There are also a growing number of fly-by-night wannabe stars hoping to slide right into A-list status by selling their souls.

So then, is it fair when a young woman such as this, rolls into town and seemingly has everything dropped in her lap?

Life isn’t fair.

One might like to think that someone like this is taking the easy way out, but remember, she has to fuck this creep and that can’t be easy. Perhaps this is her own version of the grind? But will it work for her?

Will her dream of riches and superstardom ever become a reality or will she wake up at 35, washed up, used up and even more mentally screwed up?

The entertainment business is a business. When hiring someone for an important job, we like to believe that the most qualified candidate will be the one to land the job. Of course, there is always that one person that slips through the cracks via nepotism or “a favor,” however; in general, it really doesn’t work this way.

When making the decision to come to Hollywood in pursuit of your dream, love what you do. Let it be your passion. Let it be what you live and breath. Anything less than that will undoubtedly lead to disappointment.

People forget that the women who have become famous for virtually “nothing/sex tapes” came from highly connected, incredibly wealthy Los Angeles based families. They were not the average person off the street.

Does that mean it can’t happen to you?

Who knows? Maybe. But why would you want it to?

Time for feedback…

  1. Scandalous, screwed up little girl?
  2. Genius, she’s gonna make it!
Robin Bain

About Robin Bain

Writer, director and producer, ROBIN BAIN holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theater from the University of Southern California. Bain began her career behind the camera in commercial production working as a freelance production coordinator for multi-million dollar TV commercials. Bain went on to direct and produce music videos, most notably for members of the winners of NBC’s “AMERICA’S NEXT BAND,” SON’S OF SYLVIA and for the lead singer of heavy metal band, IN THIS MOMENT. Robin Bain has written, directed and produced five short films that have screened at film festivals worldwide. Her short film, PAPER DOLL received nominations for BEST DIRECTOR, BEST ACTRESS and a win for BEST SHORT at the SMMASH FILM FESTIVAL. In 2013, Bain was credited as a writer on the feature film, POP STAR, which premiered on the LIFETIME MOVIE NETWORK. Bain wrote, directed and produced her first feature film NOWHERELAND in 2015.

  • darrendarren

    Come to think of it, if you’re already well to do to begin with, there’s an extremely high chance you won’t be successful in Hollywood. Most successful stars came from nothing, and went through the grind. It’s a rite of passage.

    I’m sure if there’s one thing Hollwood does well, is to eject those who could afford it when they started. The bias can be unfair. Sure, a few got through the cracks, but it’s probably less than 1% of successful Tinseltowners.