Skills to Fall Back On

It's important to have a way to earn a living while you're waiting for your big break or in between jobs. It's something that those new to the industry don't think enough about, because everyone wants to believe that once you land your first job—that's it—you're on your way. It works that way for some people, but not for all. It's also easy to ignore the necessity of a back-up plan when you're young, don't have too many expenses, can live with roommates and share costs and you're anticipating the career you've imagined for yourself. But as you'll see and as you've been told, it's an insecure and unstable industry, so as you get older, want to buy a house, get married, start a family (you get the picture), financial security becomes more of an issue. I don't mean to come off as the voice of doom and gloom here, but I've seen this happen to so many people who counted on working more steadily, on being more successful or on being able to sustain their success. It's not always enough to save money while you're working to get you through the lean times. Sometimes you need a back-up plan to see you through. And the best time to figure that out is when you're young and just getting started.

What other skills do you have? When I was just starting out, I typed scripts between projects, and when my husband, Ron, wasn't on a show, he was building furniture. I know people who design websites, cater parties and write articles for magazines. One friend in the business works as a computer consultant when not on a show, and someone else makes and sells jewelry. If you don't have other skills, you can always take a class or two and learn one. I know someone who has his contractor's license to fall back on, another obtained a commercial license to drive big rig trucks and still another went to bartender school. Keep in mind, however, that you want something that's going to give you some amount of flexibility. You're still going to need time to pursue your career and be available for meetings and interviews. You'll also need to be able to replace yourself should a new show or job come along.

Having skills you can fall back on will keep you busy, keep your mind active and some money coming in. It'll save you from the agony of waiting for the phone to ring and from going nuts during dry spells. You'll also feel more secure. I don't know about you, but when things don't go as planned or finances get tight, I always ask myself, "What's the worst that can happen?" If you have a Plan B, the worst never seems so bad. Check out more about Plan B jobs in Chapter 17, Show Biz Survival Techniques.

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