For anyone who’s really serious about starting an acting career, one of the first things which comes to mind is that initial financing can be quite a dilemma if you don’t have a generous benefactor (parents or relatives with a decent financial situation, mostly). Acting school fees, especially for the best ones, will require quite an investment; and while there is the possibility of recovering it in time, it’s not a given.
Many aspiring actors choose to take student loans from either certain associations or banks; the problem with loans is that you’ll have to pay back the vast majority of them to avoid getting into future problems. That, in turn, requires a hefty monthly rate which can make quite a dent into more limited budgets.
Unfortunately, taking a job to offset those costs will have the effect of severely limiting the time you dedicate either towards acting or yourself. Practice makes perfect isn’t just an old saying when it comes to acting – there is just so much theory you can learn, and without being able to exercise it properly you might end up as a C-rate actor specialized in the wrong techniques.
Also, try to settle a part time or even full time working shift with the required rehearsal hours and you’re not only going to lose any time you might have for yourself – which, from a psychological standpoint, should never happen. You’re also going to overtire yourself to the point in which you probably won’t be able to do both at full capacity.
So is high-quality acting only reserved for those can afford it? Of course not. Some people might be stubborn and strong-willed enough to carry over both job and career without even giving a hint of being tired. These are the rare cases though – and aren’t even the most desirable ones. The best solution to this problem is finding a job within the theater or film industries themselves.
After all, this is what you’re actually studying up to become; besides your passion for acting and desire for fame, you’re struggling to also make it pay off. But most aspiring actors don’t actually realize that they could start doing this early. Of course, you won’t feature in Hollywood blockbusters, Disney animations or anything that could skyrocket you to fame; and you might even have to settle for jobs related to the movies and theaters that don’t involve acting.
However, working in the domain – even if it doesn’t necessarily involve acting – is still the best compromise you might find. It will keep you connected to the world you’ll eventually want to make a name for yourself in and also show you the different facades of your eventual job. Work in a movie theater to see how your work on the main screen actually gets transmitted to the audience; or as a sound editor/camera operator for some movies to get the outside perspective on acting. Without further ado, here are some of the acting jobs that could make your expensive NYC acting school tuition more affordable.
Of course, the most ideal scenario would have you sustain your acting classes with… acting. Don’t think about being the main cast even in a low-budget indie movie just yet (well, if it isn’t directed by someone you know that is). There are a variety of acting jobs available for unknown actors who master the basics: commercials are probably the most common. Don’t expect to evolve your acting skill too much and instead armor yourself with patience – 30 second commercials may take a whole day to shoot and whole load of takes before they are completed, as even if you may be a decent actor, nobody guarantees that the people you’re going to work with are.
Commercials also won’t get you too much of a paycheck, and they are paid either daily or per hour, depending on the production company. The best way to go about this would usually be through a casting company – although some do require you to pay upfront for the possibility being included into their talent sheets. The good part is that once you start nabbing some commercial roles, either by acting or plainly doing voice overs, you’ll be more and more likely to be cast into other – the advertising industry works inside a circle of its own, the exception being really powerful brands which can get renown actors to feature into their own works.
The next step is a little more complicated and exquisite, but might get you some happier paydays. Music video casting depends on both the artist and record company themselves – plus either the production company or director they hire to make them. Labels invest quite a lot into music videos these days, as the music industry now is as much about music as it is about the image associated with it.
Last but not least, television jobs are still a thing. Even with cable networks become less influential due to the rise of the internet, there is still demand for entertainment segments, documentaries or even television movies. The upside of television work is the fact that in some cases it might get you a regular paycheck – especially in long running segments. However, the demand isn’t as constant as it once was, and it might end up occupying more time than you’d want; some might even get frustrated with the obnoxiously low standards of quality some of these productions have.
The worst thing about getting an acting job early on is that the pay is sketchy, to say the least. Taking the commercial and music video examples, the payout depends on how many such roles you can land – and even then it isn’t brilliant. It’s kind of hard to get the amount of income which could offset the costs of your acting school every year – or at least the cost of living in its campus, if you’ve got it covered somehow.
Statistics pertaining to the U.S. Bureau of Labor show that actors receive a median hourly wage of almost $42 – but don’t expect anywhere near that, at least in the beginning. Acting pays are some of the most disparate in any profession; the medium is wage is dragged up by a low percentage of high-tier actors who receive magnanimous paychecks. The vast majority of actors, especially those starting their career, receive moderate to low pays for their effort.
However, if you play it smartly, then you might be able to add a nice income which will help with the high expenses. Getting into an actor’s union might also help with that – even if they require monthly fees, you will get higher paid acting jobs as you take advantage of the collective bargaining policies they present you with.