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Actors, Get a Day Job You Like

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*originally published on 1brokeactress.com

Los Angeles – When you move to LA you will panic. If you’re from here, you will panic less probably. I dunno, I’m not from here.

I totally fucking panicked. Money panic was high on that list. So of course, I did what you do and got on Craig’s List and stared searching for jobs like a mad woman. I wound up as a restaurant hostess at The Restaurant (I know) at the Sunset Marquie Hotel. Did I LOVE it? Fuck. No. But it got me on my feet. I have had various jobs between now and then (I listed a lot of them and what I got out of them here and also more here) and almost all of them were to just get by. Of course I found parts of them to enjoy, that’s like…my thing. But I very rarely looked forward to work or came home “fulfilled”.

Only recently have I truly been experiencing this for the first time. It started back when I began teaching kid’s fitness, well really it was just to one kid, whom I already babysit for, so we just added movement to our day. From there I have gathered a few more kid-fitness clients, and this gave me the guts to get certified as a trainer.

Some people may not need a lot of “guts” to do something like that. But I was never athletic as a kid. I almost always picked the more stagnant activities and never developed much hand-eye coordination. I only started exercising in college because I realized I wanted to move to LA and the expectations would be a hell of a lot higher. That being said, the decision to make myself a “qualified fitness professional” in any capacity was a big about-face from the image of myself I have been carrying around for years. And I am SO glad I did it.

Since that training earlier this year, I have been able to branch out to adult clientele (private fitness coaching), teaching classes at a studio (Set and Flow Yoga if you wanna come visit me!), and have even started food prepping healthy meals for people as a whole other side job.

And everyday I get home pretty exhausted (that hasn’t changed from the restaurant days…) but I am so happy. Not because of some booking or audition (but of course those are awesome too), but because I spent my day doing things I actually like.

Yes, it helps that this makes it easier to create and manage my own flexible schedule and that I set a lot of my own pricing (a blessing and a curse, trust me). But I really believe this inner calm I feel about my day to day is the thing that will make me last the marathon of acting in LA. 

I’m sure you’re heard that Harrison Ford quote, when asked how he “made it” in Hollywood, he responded, and don’t quote me on this, something to the effect of “everyone else kept leaving…”

If you’re not really having a “pilot season,” if you feel soul-crushed by your day job and spend most of your time day dreaming about when it will end, if you live and breathe by your acting work, if longevity is the name of your game (PS: it has to be) find a day job you get something from.

You don’t need this right outta the gate. You will probably work as a waiter, bartender, caterer, assistant, babysitter, valet, etc. and that’s great. But work towards something you enjoy doing too…and please don’t say “I only enjoy acting” because that’s a boring response and actors are typically not boring people. You have other interests! And until your (eventual and slowly forming over years and years of hard quality work) big day comes, then yes acting can be the sole career.

Until then…let’s find livable workable work.

Sam Valentine

About Sam Valentine

Sam is an actress based in LA from all over the midwest. She created and runs 1 Broke Actress, a website and podcast dedicated to the honest truth of the working actor life...basically to kill some free time...but also to help other people in this creative cluster-f*ck of a world feel a little less unstable and alone. She lives in Hollywood with her boyfriend and rescue dogs. Instagram: @samvalentine