Archive | guest post

Guest Post: What Actors Need in a Day Job

3 Mar

One of the biggest struggles for actors is finding a day job. In a perfect world, acting work alone would be enough to pay the bills. Unfortunately, very few actors ever get to that point, and even if we do, we still have to endure the waiting period beforehand, that limbo of ‘when-will-my-big-break-come?’ and ‘will-this-all-pay-off-in-the-end-or-won’t-it?’ which, quite simply, is purgatory. Thus we are forced into that storied crevice between a rock and a hard place. We want to support our art, while being able to support ourselves at the same time.

Thus was born the day job. A survival job to keep us going, literally surviving, alive, eating and with a roof over our heads, so that we may continue to seek out acting work that furthers our artistic careers. But that doesn’t take away from our careers so that we are unable to do this.

So what do you do when you want both a promotion and to play Hamlet?

Here’s what actors need in a day job:

• Flexibility. The life of an actor is one with erratic demands. You never know when the next audition appointment will be or touring show will come. Your job needs to be able to mold to these demands, whether that means allowing you to change your hours, or make up work later, or work from home some days.

• Adequate Pay. This is seemingly a no-brainer, but shockingly difficult to find. Art may feed our soul, but we need to feed our bodies as well (and therefore feed our wallets)! It’s difficult to think about the nuances of your monologue if you don’t have enough money to pay your rent or buy food.

• Peace. You don’t need to love your job. Sadly, most people don’t. But you also shouldn’t hate it either. Your job is something you have to do for most of the hours of your life. Hating your job can create and fuel negativity in your life, which can carry over into and affect your acting. Ideally, you should be at peace with your day job.

• Enrichment. The best day job is one that enriches you as a person, and thus as an artist as well. As artists, we draw inspiration from our lives. Any work that draws upon our creative skills and abilities (writing, design, teaching), keeps our creativity constantly engaged, making it easier to access when the time comes to draw upon it. Similarly, work that entails a lot of social interaction can be great for studying people, something which actors always have to do. However, this can admittedly be a catch-22. If you fall into the category who’s not quite at peace with your job, think of it this way: it can be great motivation to get to where you want to be in your career.

• Honesty. One last thing: perhaps the most important thing you need in a day job is the freedom to be honest. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to pursuing dual careers. Full transparency with your employer about what you can offer them (a fantastic employee) but what you also need from them (primarily flexibility and understanding, but a supportive fan wouldn’t hurt either!).

For my day job, I manage the blog for Washington University in St. Louis’s online Master of Laws program. I didn’t enter college thinking I’d someday end up writing about law; I barely even knew what an LLM was! But it just so happened that the combination of my student job at my university’s law school and my writing experience led me to this path. My work is flexible, in that I can study craft at The Barrow Group, an off-off-Broadway theatre company, or quickly run out to get headshots taken, and come to work after. It pays the bills and allows me to use skills like writing, editing, and web strategy that feed both my creativity and my non-acting resume. While it’s not playing Cleopatra, it’s a pretty good gig in the meantime.

Piyali Syam is an actress and writer currently living in New York City.

Guest Post: How a Career in Radio Can Help Launch an Acting Career

2 Apr

How often do you hear people say they want to grow up to be a radio personality? It happens, but not nearly as often as the dream of becoming an actor is discussed. It is usually much more difficult to become a highly paid actor than people expect. Students graduate from high school or college and make their way to their favorite acting capital only to find many more qualified applicants than jobs. Some will become background extras while others will work in the service industry while they audition for the perfect role. A lucky few will fall into a radio gig and realize it is the perfect stepping stone from which to launch an acting career.

Occupational Outlook

There is good news and bad news about future acting prospects. First, the good news; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the overall job growth is expected to be about eleven percent, about average. Additionally, it is possible that opportunities will be greater than anticipated due to surging demand for movies and the abundance of new television networks. Now, the bad news; competition is going to be fierce. Additionally, the hours are really long, the work is exhausting, and the pay really isn’t very good at first. Now for a little more silver lining! Most people drop out of the competition early, so by simply sticking with it your odds of success increase.

Radio Opportunities

What many people don’t realize is that most on-air radio positions require a high level of acting ability. Inflection, tone, enunciation, expression and speed of delivery are all very important for a medium that does not allow for any visual cues. Indeed, it can be more challenging to make a connection with an audience using vocal talents alone. While it can be as difficult to become a popular radio personality as it is to become a moderately well-known actor, there are several other ways radio can help launch an acting career. One way to reach a wide audience and quickly build a vocal portfolio is through radio commercials. These can show your range and flexibility and can help actors land other vocal projects such as book and video narrations and voiceovers for animated characters. Establishing yourself as a vocal actor can help build your reputation and open doors for future acting endeavors.

Professional Association

Once you are working in the radio industry it is time to become a member of some very important associations. Belonging to these associations can help you find better projects, meet influential people in the industry, and offer career advice. One of the best options for those using their vocal talents in radio is the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. They can help you translate your work in radio into the broader voiceover market including audio books, promo announcement, videogames, and animation.

You are an actor! Do not limit yourself by saying you must be on the stage or in a film. While these types of positions typically offer more public recognition they do not define one as an actor. If you have the ability to invoke whatever reaction you want in an audience with your words, a glance, or a shrug you are already an actor. Open your mind to different forms of acting that will allow you to express yourself and reach your audience. You may find the radio roles you pursue as stepping stones become a satisfying way to fulfill your heart’s desire.

Sarah Stockton is an Outreach Coordinator for, a site connects businesses with professional voice talents. She enjoys helping potential voice talent find their start in the voice industry.

Guest Post on LA Stage Blog: PianoFight Secures Its Position in LA Theater

4 Oct

When I first joined PianoFight in San Francisco three and a half years ago I never knew it would grow to the point where it is now. I never knew my involvement in a quirky original little play would grow into a position where I’m spearheading the company’s SoCal expansion.

Come to think of it, why do any of us artists get involved in the projects we do? Is it because we know in X amount of time it will pay us lots of money? Is it because it will make us famous? Is it because we know it will eventually lead to a position of power or creative control?

Well, maybe sometimes but for the most, no it’s not. Hindsight is 20/20 and in the moment all we have is our burning passion to drive us. And oh the places you can go… (read full post here on LA Stage Blog)

Guest Post on Diversity at NOTE: Diversity in the Neighborhood

6 Sep

I was running from one rehearsal to the next and happened to be in the car at just the right time to here Anthony Byrnes’ weekly “Opening the Curtain” segment on KCRW. His topic this week was on the play, Neighbors, at The Matrix Theatre.  I have not seen it, but according to Byrnes, it is a play that makes you question the racism you witness on the stage- historical relics or modern reality?  The review itself was lukewarm, but the part that caught my attention was Bynes’ point at the end of his segment:

He said, “…one of the pleasures of the play was watching the audience watch themselves, discovering differences and connections as the characters resonated with each of us. That magic requires the same diversity in the seats as on the stage.”

Read full post on Diversity at NOTE