How to support a family on minimum Equity wage
I am speaking from experience here and can only draw on my own findings.
The first thing to do as an actor is to keep an open mind regarding potential jobs. Apply for all the jobs that you fit the criteria for and if the fee is high enough, travel the distance and pay for travelling to the audition. There is a danger that an actor will stick to the same type of role that they are comfortable or successful with. However, it has happened to me more than once, that someone will see another skill or talent oozing from you that you hadn't really considered. I remember being told I would be good as a double up act for stand up comedy. I never imagined my amusing facial expressions would stretch so far! Thus, consider all opportunities. Diversify into other areas - have you considered 'Voice Over' work, Workshops or Modeling?
Secondly, it is important to keep a regular income coming in whilst resting or auditioning to pay the rent. A flexible job is invaluable especially if it comes with an understanding Manager. This will allow you to run to those last minute castings at the drop of a hat and take time off for those well-earned roles. Some of the wonderful jobs I have heard about along the way include part-time Teaching, Call Centre work, Restaurant/Bar Work and an Actor’s Co-operative. Food for thought maybe?
Whilst on the subject of 'resting', it’s so important to keep up your skills set. A lull between roles can be depressing and you need to keep motivated and working in other ways. If funds allow, keep looking out for training courses that will enhance your skills and experience. However, a word of warning – try not to succumb to ALL the training courses/casting websites that catch your eye. You will end up spending more than you are earning. Keep it realistic and only invest in the courses that will actually benefit you in the long run. Regular acting classes are great for maintaining your confidence and making those useful contacts. Also, don't dismiss working for free, it will keep you busy in the short term, gain you a 'credit' and add to your contacts list for future possible paid work. Take advantage of ways to earn 'free membership' on casting website by sharing your experiences with other actors writing ‘informative’ articles.....
And so onto networking. Don't underestimate the importance of this. Make sure you are networking face to face (through paid or unpaid work) or via social media (Linked in, Twitter, Facebook). Ensure your credits and websites are updated on a regular basis and invest in excellent quality photographs, show reels and voice reels. Contact your agent (daily if necessary) and build a good rapport. The more your agent knows 'you' the better they describe you to potential employers. Make a good impression on all the jobs you are employed on. Word of mouth Director recommendations do come along even years later.
Keep a spreadsheet and receipts of all the expenses you have incurred whilst going to auditions and castings (car parking, mileage, travel). Make sure that you detail your allowable expenses to the Inland Revenue at the end of your tax year.
For the roles you have worked so hard to secure make sure you receive the payment you are owed. If you have created a clear spreadsheet and keep a good diary, keeping track of these should be easier. Chase your agent or the production companies for any unpaid fees.
I’m sure I have missed out on quite a few hints and tips here but to sum it up, the job of an Actor is not an easy one. There will be seasonal highs and lows and above all - you need to be flexible an