I’ve received a lot of email about the Survival Jobs piece. This week’s Your Turn is a collection of thanks, advice, and perspective contributed by readers, followed by one last question. Enjoy!

First email:

I loved your article on the matter of survival jobs. I’m somewhat proud of the fact that I’ve never had a real sit-down office permanent job. I’ve waited tables for years, done deliveries. Now, I mainly do day-to-day substitute teaching. I never accept long-term assignments because they always lie. They say it’s okay for me to go on auditions and then when I do, it’s suddenly a problem. I sometimes temp but I hate working in an office. I also have my CA real estate license and have made some good money doing referrals for friends and family.

I recently got my notary public license and would like to get more involved with that. It’s a great way to make money and have amazing flexibility without having to give up an entire day of work for one audition. I think waiting tables is fine when you’re just out of college but I think it eventually kills your spirit. I had to eventually find something more independent.

Second email:

For being frugal, I recommend the down-to-earth website ThriftyFun.com. You can even submit tips and win money for them.

Third email:

Boy, this article came at just the right time! My husband is being relocated to LA from KC this summer. I am a working SAG/AFTRA actress/singer from a small market and am VERY much looking forward to this move. With our expenses rising, I’ve been toying with different ideas on how to make it work financially (taking a “real day job,” working flexible part-time, not working, etc.) and your article has been very enlightening. My instincts were dead on: Being available and free to audition is absolutely vital. Thank you so much. Cheers!

Fourth email:

I work a day job in local government. I rarely miss an audition. It’s not a perfect situation, but until I land a regular spot on a hit sitcom, it will have to do.

Fifth email:

I was teaching a workshop in NYC this past weekend, and the subject about survival jobs came up. It was so appropriate to find notice of this column when I got home. I’m sending this to them and thought others would enjoy it as well.

We often have to make difficult choices. I have seen so many hopefuls move here and then get seduced by something else other than acting that they find here. When you have that love in your heart to be an artist, nothing will ultimately take its place.

I echo Bonnie’s opinion: Go for your dream. Find a way to life your life as an actor. All of her points on ways to save money, and the number of hours you can choose to work when you are your own boss are very valid. May we all have at least one “role of our dreams” this year.

Sixth email:

Thank you Bonnie. About two years ago, I had that sort of “epiphany” moment, where I realized I had to let go of “part-time jobs” and trust that acting would pay the bills. And it has.

Seventh email:

I’ve been hoping that you can give me your opinion in respect to a concern I have regarding my primary survival job. A few months ago I met a fellow who once had been a regular on a popular daytime soap. When I was chatting with him he warned me against doing background work, so as to avoid being known as an extra. But it happens to be a great way for me to schedule in appointments for auditions. Do you think that it might help me to go by another name when doing background work? Or do you think it’d be a problem at all? Any advice on this would be most appreciated. The advice I’ve already gained from your books/column have truly proved to be invaluable to me and my own pursuits as a working actor.

If you look at background work as a “survival job,” you should be fine. Remember that almost all productions use different casting directors for principals and extras. So, even if the CDs who cover background know you, you would most likely come across the desk of the CDs who cast principals just the same as anyone else who has no affiliation with the projects. If anything, I would think it could benefit you to build relationships with people on set (as a member of the atmosphere cast) in case a last-minute need for a speaking actor comes along. Your connection with the folks who could “pull you across the line” and upgrade you (assuming they know you to be professional, reliable, and talented) could actually help a great deal!


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!


Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000665.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

(Visited 348 times, 1 visits today)

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.