Unless you’re Megan Draper…
Chances are you’ll have to work menial and, sometimes, ridiculous, minimum wage jobs until you make it as an actor. Before they became famous, Matthew McConaughey worked as a waiter and James Franco worked at McDonald’s to pay the bills. As any struggling actor would know, the competition to become the next Hollywood star is fierce, and the ability to swallow your ego to work an unglamorous service job is absolutely necessary. So, before you make the spontaneous move to Los Angeles to follow your acting dream, be prepared for a reality check. Here are the five most common jobs you’ll likely work:
1. Uber driver
Actors and comedians are known for driving cabs around Los Angeles. Many of them still do it even after working in Hollywood for 30 years. But don’t let this scare you. All the potentially interesting conversations you’ll have with passengers could be the inspiration for your future Oscar-winning screenplay.
Step into any LA restaurant and your waiter is sure to be an actor on the side, as in the case of The Sherminator. Waiting tables is by far the most popular struggling actor gig, for two good reasons: 1. it’s the easiest job to get and 2. it helps you hone your acting skills. Serving high maintenance patrons, and possibly assholes, will test your ability to manage your emotions and facial expressions. Put on your best face at ALL times.
“Are we having fun yet?” Similar to waitressing but much more stressful, catering is another humble job that make you more adept at acting. If you’ve ever watched Party Down, the funny-albeit-cancelled TV series about a group of struggling actors (or failed actors in the case of Adam Scott’s character, Henry Pollard) who work in catering, then you know this would be one of the worst jobs you’ll work as a struggling actor. On the plus side, there’s free food, and possibly even caviar.
4. Miscellaneous: Disney character; game show participant
Whether it’s dressing up as Snow White or going on a game show a la Jon Hamm on The Big Date game show, you’ll find yourself doing jobs that other people think are really fun, but are otherwise incredibly underpaid and make you feel like a fool. Imagine what Jon Hamm thinks anytime someone mentions his ’90s hairstyle. Now imagine what Don Draper would think.
5. Tending Bar
This one is the most obvious and the most conducive to networking. Sure, feeding people’s alcoholic tendencies isn’t the most meaningful work but, like the Uber driver job, involves a ton of interaction, which is sure to fuel your creative mind with stories and character archetypes if you ever plan to write or direct. There’s also the possibility that you’ll be serving celebrities, directors, and other Hollywood insiders who can hook you up with a job (kissing up may be required).