Friday, May 12, 2006

TV, Stage Stars Working 9-to-5 Jobs to Make Ends Meet

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

will act for food

I was quite surprised by a story in the latest Frederick News-Post, one of Maryland’s small-town newspapers. Apparently, even television actors and actresses are having a hard time paying their bills. Many, like Danielle Di Vecchio, who plays Tony Soprano’s sister on “The Sopranos,” hold 40-hour corporate jobs during the week to help fill in the holes in their income.

A “real” job, like the one Ms. Di Vecchio has at an executive search firm, can be the key to making life more comfortable for the not-quite-famous. But it can also keep actors from pursuing their careers fully, leaving them haunted by the feeling that the occasional skipped audition or turned-down tour could have catapulted them into a Reese Witherspoon-like existence.

While there are countless stories of unknowns trekking out to California with the hope of making it big on TV or cinema only to end up serving drinks their whole lives, it seems that landing even moderately well-known acting roles aren’t guarantees of financial success. Even people serious about breaking into the industry are finding themselves faced with tons of student loan debt to repay after years of acting school that may never even land them a professional acting job.

“If you want to work on stage, most of the work in New York is off-Broadway, meaning they’re earning under $400 a week —barely enough to cover their expenses, let alone paying back loans,” says Victor Pappas, associate chair of the prestigious graduate acting program at New York University, where tuition runs about $35,000 a year plus expenses.

And with more young people getting thoughts of fame crammed into their heads by popular culture, colleges aren’t doing much to steer them towards more practical careers.

In recent years, a growing number of colleges and universities across the country have added acting programs to their liberal arts roster, swiftly multiplying the number of new actors seeking work.

Still, there are some truly talented folks out there who should explore their dreams of acting, and I wish them the best of luck in their journey to realize those dreams.

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