There are hundreds of professions that are difficult to attain and maintain; doctor, teacher, attorney – they tax the intellect and present daily challenges that would bring many a tough guy to his knees. A lot of jobs require intense physical effort, and some demand extremely long hours for relatively low wages. So this is not intended to suggest that showbiz is somehow harder. Most people work hard and struggle with endless obstacles. But for those hoping to enter into a showbiz career, I thought it might be interesting to examine a few of the hurdles that exist within the industry.
You are seriously attractive. Or your friends find you clever. Or your essay won first prize in a local competition. Whatever the case, you feel that you possess certain skills or talents that could propel you toward a career in the entertainment industry. Unfortunately, you have no contacts, no family members who have won an Oscar, you don’t even know anyone who has set foot in Hollywood. No problem – all you have to do is gather your belongings, drive across the US (or fly from another country) and find yourself an apartment where gangs won’t kill you and the rent won’t bankrupt you in two months. There’s a McDonald’s restaurant on Vine Street in Hollywood right next to the Greyhound bus terminal, and it’s constantly full of fresh-faced would-be actors and actresses who have headed West with hope in their hearts.
Your first order of business: find a job. That’s no easy task in a city where the unemployment rate hovers near 12 percent, higher than the national average by at least three points. What few jobs exist are routinely low-paying with long hours. Restaurant wait staff, clerical, a vast array of temp positions – they can help to anchor you in the city but they’ll never provide you with sufficient income.
Plus, you need a job that will allow you to do vital career business in your off-hours, like networking, going to auditions and acting classes, finding an agent, and getting a script written. It means compromising in key areas of your personal life – like sleeping and socializing. But you won’t be alone. Virtually every waiter and waitress you see in almost every restaurant is on their way to a glorious future as an actor. They will be glad to share their charms with you as they take your lunch order.
But say you manage to find a job. You also need a place to live. You may be able to crash on a stranger’s couch but that’s a risky maneuver. You could answer an ad and take a chance on rent-sharing an apartment – there are endless online sites that will hook you up with potential roommates. This comes with its own share of red flags, not the least of which is that, once you sign a contract for the apartment, you’re stuck with the payments regardless of whether or not your new bestie is reliable. Or sane.
In Hollywood, you’ll also need transportation. There are some improvements in public transit, but only marginal. Best to find a car so that you can actually show up for those auditions and meetings you’re working so hard to procure. But you’ll need insurance, and it’s pretty pricey in California. So count on another year of Ramen noodles for your dining pleasure as you shovel all your cash on hand into the insurance industry’s wallet.
Still intent on a career in showbiz? Good for you! Come back next time and we’ll explore the fascinating world of backstabbers, crooks and psychotic manipulators!
- Putting the ‘show’ in showbiz (reviews.cnet.com)
- I don’t need sleep: James Franco (vancouverdesi.com)