400 questions that could change your life, part 1Posted: May 17, 2011
When I first moved to NYC, I temped at fashion magazines as my day job. Imagine a small-town girl in a one-piece pansuit walking down the halls of Vogue. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Then I moved my way to the much less fashionable New York Public Library, aka the NYPL. I liked to pronouce it “nipple.” That’s probably a good indication of how I felt about that job. And then, because I was an actress, I decided that I should be a waitress. Considering I lied to get the job and I had never opened a bottle of wine in my life at that point, I’m surprised I lasted a whole two weeks. Maybe temping wasn’t so bad after all…
Even though I moved to NYC for acting, I was spending a lot of time and energy on my day job. Based on the statistics that most actors didn’t make enough money to survive on, I was being realistic. One actor I had met doing a play the summer before I moved here, said he loved getting paid $10/hr to sit at a desk and do nothing all day. This was not for me. What was also not for me: answering phones, opening mail, watering plants, making calendar entries. I just could not be satisfied.
One sparkle of a day job was working at a private investigation agency. It was exciting. Not quite as exciting as you’d probably hope for, but still, I have some good stories. And, for the first time in my short day job existence, it was also pretty engaging work. It soon became clear, though, that I wasn’t interested in a long-term position with a boys club. I also found that by the time I had finished a 40-hour work week, the last thing I had energy for was auditioning and pursuing my art.
Shortly after the PI job, I found a cushy freelance gig and ended up pursuing my yoga teacher certification. The idea of being a yoga teacher had popped up time and time again for me, and I knew it was finally the right time to go for it. I thought that teaching yoga would be my answer to the satisfying and flexible day job–and that I could truly say that I was fulfilled doing something that also paid the rent. It turned out that I still needed a day job to support my yoga day job…which pretty much defeated the purpose.
Back to the drawing board!
In the midst of my five years teaching yoga, I came across a seminar at The Actor’s Fund on “day jobs for actors” and I thought this was a perfect opportunity for me to see what else was out there that I hadn’t thought of. I remember sitting around a large conference table with a lot of other actors, but what struck me was that nearly all of them were working actors. They had been working in the business for 10 or 20 years without having to have a day job. I couldn’t see how this was possible. And now, here they all were, unable to get acting work for whatever reason, and without any real marketable skills for a day job. I suddenly felt grateful that I had amassed quite a number of divergent skills that could afford me any number of jobs.
The biggest takeaway from the seminar was that the woman leading it said that the happiest and most successful actors she knew had two careers. One career being an actor, and another career being something else. And by career, she didn’t mean just a day job. She meant something that was equally fulfilling as acting. And, so, I was off to find that second career…
Stay tuned for part 2!