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Other Earning Avenues for Actors

This post is mainly aimed at actors, but can also include directors and writers.


Living off just acting jobs, especially in the beginning, is nearly impossible. Adding more strings to your bow will help diversify your earning opportunities.


Voice Acting


I know several actors that make their money through voice acting. The things that really set people apart in this career are having their own equipment and learning about the craft of voice recording. Having a home studio opens them up for more jobs and actually knowing what their equipment does helps them create higher-quality recordings. It takes quite a large investment in the beginning, but it can pay off.


If you don't have the funds to invest in a home studio, put together a voice reel and try to get a voice acting agent. Video games, audiobooks, and dubbing work are all possible jobs and they all require different skills. It would be worth taking a few classes in voice acting. Outside of freelance voice acting work, there is also the possibility to work with companies like BBC Radio making audio dramas. They offer contracts on a permanent or time-limited basis, so you can get more reliable and regular work.


Dungeons


If you live in Edinburgh or London, this can be a good short-term acting gig. They offer 6-month contracts during which you play a plethora of historical characters. You then need to wait another 6 months before you reapply for another round. You are not likely to get one of these jobs if you don't have a natural British accent of some kind. Similarly, there are various tour companies that require actors to run their historic tours.


Tech/Stage Management


This is the route I went down. Learning some technical theatre and stage management skills can allow you to work in your field while pursuing another emphasis. My theatre company, Sweaty Palms Productions, has an entire branch of our operations dedicated to tech work because we all wanted to be able to supplement our productions. There is also a massive shortage of technicians and SMs, so there are jobs everywhere.


If you are interested in learning about tech work, most lighting equipment companies, such as ETC, offer free courses to teach people how to run their boards. Asking a technician or stage manager on a production you are involved in to teach you a few things is also a good option, though be sure to be respectful of their time.


One of our company members is not only a theatre technician but also a lighting technician for film and TV. He uses a lot of his theatre skills, gets paid a lot more, and works short-term contracts between his theatre work. Similarly, another of our company members works as an SM in theatre and a runner for film & TV. Finding jobs that use the same skills in related industries helps them get better-paying jobs that are still flexible enough to plan their theatre work around.


Access positions


With the shift in the industry to become more accessible, there are more roles being created. If you have the time and resources to train as an access officer, BSL interpreter, or intimacy director you can find new opportunities. Most of these jobs are not at the fringe theatre level as most fringe companies do not have the funds for these positions. However, these are incredibly important skills to have in the room and will make you a better collaborator.


Headshots and Reels


If you have the resources to invest in cameras and filming equipment, you can look into offering self-tape, headshots, or reel and production filming services. These can be lucrative options, but they are also skills that must be built via practice. You need to know what makes a good headshot, how to edit film on a professional level, and what casting directors are looking for from a self-tape. If you do master these skills, they will help you in your own aims as an actor as well.


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