Finding a Suitable Day Job

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Coming to Hollywood:  How to Find a Suitable Day Job

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The entertainment business is extremely exciting - and Hollywood is truly the center of it all! But before you jump on a flight out here into Tinseltown, California to live in the land of surf and sunshine, there are lots of things to plan for and to think about.  First up:  you’ll need to find a job in order to support yourself.  

You see, my actor friend, the way that Hollywood is projected to the world is quite different from how it is to actually live here.  Though it is certainly true that by living here you will have the opportunity to pursue your dream of being an actor (and you will live in an amazing place), you will also need to survive just like in any other city!  It can be really tough at times – especially financially.  This brings us to the first most important step to take when first moving to Hollywood:  find a “day job.”

A “day job” (or a survival job) is defined by the Macmillan Dictionary as “the main job of someone who is also trying to succeed in some other career such as singing or acting.”  

Let me start off by saying, yes, it is theoretically possible that you'll book a national commercial and sign with CAA immediately after you arrive in Hollywood, and therefore would not need another source of income such as a day job!  But the chances of that happening are rather slim.  Booking work as an actor can take a very long time, and even when you do begin to book acting work consistently, most actors experience periods of time when they are working inconsistently, too.  This means that earning money and having a regular paycheck will likely need to be made outside of the field of acting, at least for a good while.  Finding a day job is important in order to afford basic needs such as food and a place to live.  

Tips on Finding a Day Job

You’re either on your way, or you’re already out here in LA trying to be an actor, and it is understandable to want your acting career to be your priority!  But remember, this career path requires a huge investment of energy, time and money before seeing a return on your investment.  Paying for headshots, acting classes, casting director workshops, and everything else needed for your acting career can add up very quickly.  

So, how do you find a day job that will allow you to have the flexibility to attend auditions as well as permit you to focus on your acting career?  There are lots of options for day jobs, such as working in a restaurant, coffee shop, being a dog-walker, and many more which we will focus on later in this section of my website.  In the meantime, consider the following 3 suggestions to finding a day job that will be a good fit for you.

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1)  Job Flexibility

Job flexibility is important when you're called in for auditions!. ONOKY - Eric Audras / Brand X Pictures / Getty Images

Job Flexibility

Any day job that you take should be flexible.  This sort of job situation is not always easy to find.  Fortunately however, there are many actors and artists here in Hollywood (myself included) who have found day jobs that allow us to pursue our passion in between bookings.  

When seeking employment for a day job, be sure to ask questions regarding the company’s policy on flexibility and scheduling.  Auditions typically occur in the mornings and afternoons (though there are always exceptions).  Working at night or early in the morning hours may be a good option.  Working in a restaurant or at a bar, for example, typically occurs at night, which allows you to keep your days free for auditions.  A good friend who works at a bar in Hollywood often mentions that her co-workers (who are also actors) work together to help cover each other’s shifts in order to attend auditions.  

Before you start at any day job, find out how strict the job is regarding flexibility.  If it appears that you will not be able to take any time off, or if taking time off will jeopardize your employment, look elsewhere.    

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2) Potential to Network

Aim to find a day job that allows you to network with other creative individuals!. Caiaimage/Sam Edwards / OJO+ / Getty Images

Potential to Network

Finding a day job that allows you to network and meet people in the entertainment industry is very helpful.  From my own experience, in order to have a good shot at working in this business, you’ll need to completely immerse yourself in it.  Los Angeles is a big city, but in many respects it is also a very small town.  You will meet people who work in the biz everywhere.  And I mean everywhere!  Meeting people will help you to build friendships and create connections with fellow artists.  

When seeking a day job, aim to find one that will allow you to meet many people. Background work, (while typically not as flexible as some day jobs) is a great way to get onto set and meet many fellow industry professionals as well as learn a tremendous amount about what life is like on set.

(By the way, soap opera background work and commercial background work are fantastic examples of background work!)

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Your Overall Well-Being

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3)  Your Well-Being

Pursuing an acting career is a full-time commitment and requires a tremendous amount of energy.  Add a day job (and life in general!) into the mix, and it can feel like there are just not enough hours in a week to accomplish everything you want to do!  Because of the amount of energy it requires to succeed in this business, your day job (while very important in order to survive) should not jeopardize your overall well-being.  

Feeling happy, healthy and energized is crucial for an actor’s success.  Remember that dealing with rejection and other difficulties in this business can be wearing; therefore keeping your physical, mental and emotional health in top condition is very important.  When seeking a day job (or contemplating leaving one that you may already have), consider how your day job makes you feel.  If a job leaves you feeling physically or emotionally exhausted, your acting career will likely be affected as well.  Don’t let that happen!  

One Day at a Time

While your day job is obviously important, your priority should always be your acting career; which is likely the reason you’re in Hollywood in the first place.  Avoid any day job situation that is going to make your life more difficult than it needs to be.  Your day job will not last forever.  But while you do need to have the consistent income, always keep in mind that your acting career takes precedent!  And keep moving toward your acting career goals, enjoying the journey - one day at a time.