How to Balance Acting and a Job

The majority of actors don’t get enough paid acting work to keep a roof over their head, but then struggle to work out how to balance acting and a job which pays the bills. 

It’s a struggle which has got harder, because casting directors now set casting calls for anytime during the week, including weekends and evenings. And since the industry gets ever faster, the gap between selection and casting session gets ever shorter. Plus, they’ll often send pages of script with a demand that you’re auditioning in 24 or 48 hours with books down. 

In London, many of the successful working actors went to private schools. That’s partly because they traditionally had more success getting into a top drama school, but mainly because they had the financial support to see them through the early years of their career in one of the world’s most expensive places to live.

How To Juggle A Day Job With Your Acting Career

YouTube channel Workshop Guru created the video How To Juggle A Day Job With Your Acting Career, presented by actress Ajarae Coleman.

A working actress living in Los Angeles, Ajarae Coleman has appeared in dozens of network TV, film, and commercial productions, while also running her business, Acting Resource Guru.

How To Juggle A Day Job With Your Acting Career: Workshop Guru. Press image to start the video.

Demands of an acting career

In addition to short notice casting calls seven days a week, audition scripts to learn, and acting jobs that last from a few hours to several months, working professional actors also engage in actor training workshops and courses, marketing processes (headshots, showreel, short films etc), and networking events.

That’s just for your acting career! Now you add a day job on top, to pay the rent.

Actor Side Gigs

Ajarae suggests a successful side job for actors should:

  1. Be flexible
  2. Pay the bills AND acting career expenses
  3. Not drain you emotionally
  4. Be a place where you can be honest about your acting aspiration

You need energy and vitality to be a successful actor. Doing too many flexible side gigs or a paid job you truly hate drains you of the energy and enthusiasm to perform well for casting directors.

Being able to attend auditions is crucial to your acting career. So be upfront with your line manager and colleagues. It’s hard for people outside the industry to know how any of this works or appreciate the pressure you are under. But trying to hide your aspirations diverts your energy into maintaining a lie, and causes unnecessary tangles in your relationships and planning.

Acting Resource Guru

In addition to working as an actress, Ajarae Coleman founded and runs Acting Resource Guru. She provides her online community with free tips & anonymous reviews of every acting school, coach, casting workshop, and talent agency/management company in New York City and Los Angeles.

Acting credits

Ajarae Coleman’s screen credits include:

  •  2021 Along Came a Callback (Short) – Malika
  •  2019 Codependent Mindset (TV Series) – Olivia
  •  2018 The Art of Satisfaction (Short) – Ombra
  •  2018 Tournament – Candace
  •  2017 NCIS: New Orleans (TV Series) – Marlene Bell
  •  2017 Opportunity Knocks (Short) – Carli Reynolds
  •  2017 I’m Sorry (TV Series) – Julie
  •  2017 The Catch (TV Series) – Eileen Taggart
  •  2016 Dope Boys (TV Movie) – Angelique
  •  2016 Lilin’s Brood – Patricia
  •  2015 The McCarthys (TV Series)-  Waitress
  •  2015 Revenge (TV Series) – Jail Guard
  •  2015 Why It Would Suck to Date an Avenger (Short) – Captain America’s Damsel
  •  2014 Landing Afoot (Short) – Doctor Fortuna
  •  2014 Hit the Floor (TV Series)
  •  2014/I Dreaming (Short) – Regina
  •  2013 One Night Standoff (Short) – First girl
  •  2013 Second Class Citizens – Nicole
  •  2013 Perception (TV Series)  -Spokeswoman
  •  2012 Broke Girls (TV Series) – Woman
  •  2012 The Mop and Lucky Files (TV Series) – Hot Girl
  •  2012 Scandal (TV Series) – Meryl
  •  2012 Private Practice (TV Series) – Hot Waitress
  •  2011 Who is Billie Mackenzie? (TV Series) – Mrs. Underwood
  •  2011 I Hate L.A. (TV Series) – Rain
  •  2011/II Closure – Zoe 
  •  2010 Days of Our Lives (TV Series) – Female Bank Clerk
  •  2010 Iron Man 2 – Expo Guest (uncredited)
  •  2009 Casting Notice (Short) – Natalie
  •  2009 Naked Sushi (Short) – Jasmine
  •  2008 Tomorrow Never Knows (Short) – Natasha
  •  2008 Keepin’ the Faith: Higher Ground (Video)  – Carla
  •  2008 Don’t Go (Short)  – Lacey

Balancing Acting and a Job

It’s not easy building an acting career, especially when you have to financially support yourself. Learning how to balance acting and a job is complicated. Hopefully the advice given from Ajarae’s experience clarifies what goals you have in mind as you start searching for paid employment to support your acting ambition.

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Thanks to Always Shooting for coin image used under CC By 2.0 licence