I absolutely abhor the stigma that comes with being an actor; that we are flaky, irresponsible, and head-in-the-clouds sort of folk. The best actors I know are completely grounded and responsible. We have to be smart about our reputations to thrive in this industry. So why the stigma?
I'm looking for a new place to live, and every place, without fail, asks what you do for a living. They want to know that you have enough money to pay your rent. Breathe one word about being an auditioning actor and you are out the door.
Looking for a new job, the same issue applies. Tell them that you are an actor and want some scheduling flexibility, you are taken out of the running. They want someone more "commitment-worthy," even if it is an entry-level desk job. Actors are even more qualified for working in office situations, we are people-persons and intelligent. We want these jobs so we can survive for our real passion; wouldn't we be more likely to be committed to your company that an average entry-level Joe on the street with no direction?
I hate lying about my profession! I've started telling folks I work in sales, just so I can be put in the same running as everyone else working a job they can't stand. Yes, I am in sales, but for a few hours a week. I am proud as hell about my actor-status that it kills me to define myself otherwise.
As an actor, it can be tricky to prove your income. Its not as easy as saying, I work hourly and I make $X.XX a year. My income is made up of varied sources. Part time jobs, freelancing, and topped off by contractual acting gigs. I'm not a 100% working actor yet, so I am piecing my life together on 1099s.
Why do I constantly have to prove my monetary worth to others?
Jobs, housing, I can understand where they are coming from. But even meeting people day to day, when they find out you are an actor, they inevitably ask,
"So how do you survive?"
I feel like it is no one's business but my own. I'm surviving just fine, thank you. My money and time are just as good as anyone else's; so why do I have to sum up my financial snapshot to everyone I meet?
(photo by Ronnie Nelson)