Actors: We will get through this

As artists, we’re used to the gig life – whether it’s our performing or Survival Job.  

But now, with Broadway, Tour and Regional shows being cancelled, all actors find themselves out of work.

The “traditional” Survival Jobs that we worked between performing gigs – Office Temp, Catering, or Promotional Work – have been disappearing as well.

What’s an actor to do?

  • Tap into your emergency fund
    • An emergency fund is supposed to be 6-8 months of liquid expenses (Online Savings or Money Markets are ideal). Ha – my 25-year-old self would laugh – I could barely pay my bills before everything shut down – now you’re asking if I have 6-8 months of expenses saved? So, this blog post was written with the 25-year-old me with no emergency fund in mind.

The Actor’s Fund

  • The Actors Fund offers a variety of programs and services for artists, and is a crucial resource for many actors right now to offer emergency assistance, or point them in the right direction of another resource they can utilize.

What do to?

This whole situation feels very familiar – like the financial crisis of 2008. We’ve been through something like this before, and we will get through this.

Now that you’re left with time on your hands here’s what you can do.


Self-Care

THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE!

  • Our thoughts influence our reality. If you look at this as a stressful time – you will be stressed. If you look at this as an opportunity to recharge, get some work done and get organized – you will feel productive. It’s up to you. Try to not look at your phone for at least a few hours each day.
  • Give yourself some Grace. None of us have ever been through this before. I know the “traditional” advice is: get up, get ready, eat healthy meals and be productive each day. But if you need to stay in your PJ’s and Netflix and Chill for a day – by all means, do that!!
  • Give yourself some downtime: I’ll be filling my mind with positive & inspirational material. I just watched Frozen II with my family and it was so heartwarming and a nice mental escape for a few hours. The Met just announced nightly Opera live streams. THIS is one of the reasons why the arts are so important – to provide joy and comfort.
  • Clean Your Space!! I’m the most excited about this one. My weekends will be filled with cleaning out rooms and closets that I have only dreamed about getting to “one day”.
  • Do that mask sitting around that you’ve never done (please tell me I’m not the only one with multiple hair-masks sitting in the back of my bathroom cabinet.) See – that cleaning out thing was really helpful!
  • Connect. How can you connect through others? FaceTime and Zoom are a beautiful thing. MelRob over at TheBizOfShow.com has a wonderful and encouraging newsletter that you can sign-up for. She’s doing interviews on Instagram Lives as well – check it out at @TheBizOfShow.

Find other sources of income:

I have a whole Side Hustle section of Survival Jobs for Actors. While a Survival Job is typically a job that when you work 8 hours, you get paid for those 8 hours (catering gig, for example), but with a Side Hustle like writing a book, or creating a product, or online course – you put in work up front and get paid when someone purchases your product. Some great Side Hustles to work on while you’re at home?

  • Freelance – Personally I’ve used Upwork and 99Designs to hire freelancers. There is a ton of opportunity for remote work; data entry, VA (Virtual Assistant) work – check out the sites for more info.
  • Babysitting & Lessons – Take it from a Mom who’s trying to handle two online school schedules with working my survival job from home- having someone homeschool my kids, or give them music lessons while I’m working, would be such a gift! Get in touch with anyone you’ve ever babysat for, or any moms you know, and put the word out that you’re offering Zoom lessons, playdates, or homework help!
  • Create an Online Course – I love this one. Online courses are a great way to share your knowledge with others. Yes, if you Google around a lot I’m sure you could find out how to start your own podcast, but there are many podcasters that have created a stream of income teaching others how to do it. What special knowledge do you have? What do friends always ask you about? Let’s say you knit. You could create an online course on “How to Knit”, sell additional patterns, and offer 1:1 classes with you via Skype.
  • Write a book – Did you know you can self-publish on Amazon with KDP? (Kindle and Paperback)
  • Sell a Physical Product – Jenny Florkowski, who is part of the Wicked cast on Broadway, makes & sells her jewelry on Etsy. She’s in a Broadway show & she has a Side Hustle! It just makes my heart sing! If you have the materials at home and have never gotten around to it – now’s the time!
  • Print On Demand – Did you know I create my own t-shirt designs and sell them on Amazon? What about creating your own merch? I am not a graphic designer by any means, I just use Canva to create a few graphics and upload them. Check out my Acting Successfully collection on Amazon.
  • Affiliate Marketing – Speaking of affiliate marketing ^ that link I just used to my collection of shirts on Amazon is my Amazon Associates link. If you purchase something through that link on Amazon, I get a (small) % of the purchase for referring you. If you’re a photographer, create videos to post on YouTube and Facebook, with your affiliate links to the product that you’re reviewing.
  • Check in with Temp Agents. Let’s be honest, as much as you may not like it, you may need to supplement your income with non-acting work until it comes back. Right now we’re facing record unemployment and who knows when we’ll be able to leave our apartments, let alone when the economy will turn around. So, check-in with those temp agents, so you’re on their radar when things start to pick back up. Full-time employees are more expensive for employers than temps.

Paperwork/Finances

  • It’s tax time! This is usually the time of year I get my paperwork together and do a look-back to see what I’ve spent and identify any frivolous spending habits that have I haven’t identified (I see you app charge that I meant to cancel). I detailed my whole process on a blog post on Michelle Dyer.com – https://michelledyer.com/adulting-for-actors/
  • I can’t tell you how frustrating it is that basic financial concepts are not taught in school. That’s why I created Finances For Actors* – to help share information I’ve learned over the years and how to apply it to an actors’ life. The course is free at least through May 1st, 2020. *Disclaimer: I am NOT a financial advisor, please consult one. Also, this has nothing to do with my Survival Job.

Career Prep

  • Tired of your book? This is a fantastic time to learn new material. Whether you go through your bookshelf of plays and music you always thought you would get around to and never did – now’s the time! Sample clips of shows you’re not familiar with.
  • FaceTime with your teachers – If you are able to keep up with your lessons, do. If funds are an issue – FaceTime with friends and barter services. Does one of your friends teach yoga? She can offer a FaceTime yoga class for your monologue coaching services.
  • Do you have a spreadsheet with roles & audition songs ready? If not, time to start researching those random old-school shows you see in Summer Stock audition notices.

Create

  • Sing, Dance, let it all out. Channel your feelings into art.
  • Can’t find work for someone who’s just your type? Create your own work to star in!

Be good to one another. We’re all in this together. Please, stay inside to protect yourself and others.

Like I said before – we’ve gotten through tough times before – and we will do it again.

Love to you all.

xoxo, Michelle