My name is Jonathan and I’m an actor.
Except when I’m not.
Over the years, since giving up on my salaried muggle job and leaving Belfast in 2009, I have filled the gaps between acting jobs (and plugged the gaping hole between acting earnings and London outgoings) by taking on paid employment of various kinds, with varying levels of financial compensation and, indeed, emotional toll. As anyone who has seen my bio on this site will know, my (imaginary) muggle CV includes, in my 30s alone, multiple entries as barman, waiter, labourer, ‘tugger’ (telephone charity ‘mugger’), removals man, office manager, Costa ‘barista’, boom op, and – the best of all – a golf buggy driver ferrying ‘celebs’ (none of whom I could name) around V-Fest.
What do all of these have in common? Not one of them had anything – zip, zilch, nada – to do with being an actor. They were a means to an end, the end being keeping the landlord, energy and phone companies at bay while simultaneously being able to buy enough cereal, 5-for-99p noodles and strictly-only-ever-from-concentrate orange to stay alive. Living the dream, I believe it’s called.
Like most, it didn’t take many nights serving dodgy pints of Kronenbourg, or horrifically overpriced, barely-defrosted ‘baked cheesecake’ to realise that I needed a longer-term plan. Something that I could do when I wasn’t acting, and maybe even when I was, that would pay well enough to enable the purchase of the odd fresh vegetable, staving off scurvy while possibly even allowing me to use, practice and develop my acting and related skills.
Seven years after the move, my spreadsheet of monthly income (which unlike my muggle CV, actually does exist) has multiple rows that encompass income from a variety of sources, none of which mean that I come home smelling of barbecue ribs and chip fat. When it came down to it, I was tired of being the oldest waiter in the restaurant. I was tired of people thinking I was the manager, or worse, the owner. I was tired. And I knew I didn’t want to be a forty year old bus boy.
So, what’s my ‘other’ job now? For the past year, my *coughs* ‘revenue streams’ – beyond jobs booked through my acting or voiceover agents – have included:
- freelance social media, mainly for for a PR agency which includes looking after strategy for their clients. I have no formal training or qualifications in this, but I seem to get away with it and nobody has complained yet. Long may it continue.
- hosting a weekly pub quiz at a local bar, sometimes covering others as needed, and occasionally doing the same for corporate events. Most recently, I’ve been asked to host a few media events launching new products and services. I have no formal training or qualifications in this, but I seem to get away with it and nobody has complained yet. Long may it continue.
- taking headshots and occasional event photography (although since the podcast, this has really had to take a back seat). I have no formal training or qualifications in this, but I seem to get away with it and nobody has complained yet. Long may it continue.
- (very occasional) voiceovers from home using some the same equipment I use to record the podcast intros. I have no formal training or qualifications in this, but I seem to get away with it and nobody has complained yet. Long may it continue.
And since launching the podcast, I’ve also started writing occasional blogs and articles for others. Most recently. I’ve been asked to ‘edit’ a new, regular section for The Stage (more of which I will reveal below). Given that I did two humanities degrees, a PhD for six years and have published chapters in a few books and journals, this is the only thing from which I make any money for which I can claim to have any sort of relevant training. Including acting. For which I did not train, but I seem to get away with it and nobody has complained yet. Long may it continue
What’s my point? Well, it’s taken me seven years to not quite work out how the hell to (not quite) stay sane and (occasionally) pay the bills between acting jobs. I wish I’d known what I know now when I was fresh off the EasyJet boat in 2009. And I wish I knew how I was going to do the same, only more efficiently and with greater financial reward – when I’m 40, 50, or 60.
I want to conduct short interviews with actors who do ‘other’ jobs that not only enable them to keep their landlords at bay, but which also allow them to use, practice or develop their existing skill set, or which offer them industry-relevant opportunities. The hope is that maybe it will inspire others to leave Cattle Grid once and for all, awkwardly ‘walking out’ mid-shift on a wet January Friday, struggling downstairs carrying their bike and wearing a luminous cycling helmet and accidentally knocking the ketchup off table 11 on the way past. Or, y’know, whatever it is you are currently doing that doesn’t even make you enough money to survive, which you can’t see yourself doing when you’re 40 and which doesn’t use any of that very particular set of skills (trained or untrained).
So, if you have such an ‘other’ job and wouldn’t mind sharing its existence (and how you got into it etc) with the wider acting community, please get in touch by emailing direct to firstname.lastname@example.org, tweeting with the hashtag #myotherjob and tagging @honestactors, or commenting below. I’ll send the questions and we can take it from there.
‘My Other Job’ started going out weekly via the The Stage on Wednesday 3rd February 2016. Here’s an example.
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