Lessons From Your Survival Job

Marci Phillips - Being YourselfOne of the great things about being an actor is that everything that happens in your life can help to serve your craft. It’s my belief that virtually anything that is executed with intelligence, creativity, ethics, care and love can be considered an Art.

Some people believe that you can’t call yourself an Artist if you’re not actively producing any tangible “Art”. I think it’s important to open up this concept and put some of the same care, thought, inspiration and heart into everything you do on a daily basis as you would for an acting job. If you’re presently in a “survival job” and feel that your creativity can only be nurtured when you’re acting, you might want to take another look at that limiting belief. One of the Dictionary definitions of the word Artist is simply “a person whose work exhibits exceptional skill”. So it stands to reason that, if performed with exceptional skill, whatever you’re doing at the moment can be considered an Art. You just need to stop thinking that it has no relevance to what you really want to be doing.

What can you do?

To truly succeed in acting in New York City, one of the most important skills you want to hone as an actor is your ability to relate and communicate. Can you honestly say that you can’t work on those skills in ANY situation you find yourself in that involves other people? Most jobs require at least some interaction with others, and right there you have an opportunity to grow.

If you find yourself working in the Service Industry to make ends meet, can you use your unique personality to win over your customers? Is there much difference between that and winning over an agent or a casting director in a meeting? Waiters and waitresses sometimes have to deal with rude customers. Can you handle this situation with a certain amount of grace and dignity? That might be a great lesson in how to finesse a dismissive agent or casting director!

So – if you’re experiencing a somewhat negative attitude about having to be a Waiter, Bartender, Personal Trainer, Temp or anything else that’s not in “the Arts” at the moment, see if you can reexamine that. I could list examples for every conceivable survival job that an actor might have, but the basic principles are the same. These jobs allow you to observe life and interact with people in all their quirky wonder. The things you experience in these jobs today can be accessed and used in your acting tomorrow.

Think about how you can challenge yourself with this survival-job-time and turn it into a creative gymnasium that will work for you instead of against you.

Marci Phillips is the Executive Director of ABC Casting. The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to Marci Phillips and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of ABC, Disney or any of its subsidiaries. Marci is the author of “The Present Actor – A Practical and Spiritual Guideline to Help You Enjoy the Ride” available on Amazon.com.