10 Reasons Your Day Job Makes You a Better Actor

The other night, this came across my feed:

Actors are so much better at their craft when they work at a shitty diner, coffee shop, or desk job- than making a living just being actors

— Sean Hackett (@shackett) April 11, 2012

Woah. What?! Whoa!

If you don’t know Sean Hackett, let’s get that out of the way first. He’s the award-winning director of the feature film HOMECOMING starring Brea Grant, and you can follow him (and stumble upon conversations like these, on Twitter). Basically, if you’re an unknown actor in Seattle, you pay attention when he says something that goes against conventional assumptions.

Sean wasn’t kidding. He recently met with quite a lot of “professional,” union talent regarding his next feature film SANCTITY, and had not just one but dozens of experiences that led him to this frustrated conclusion.

Here are Sean’s 10 Reasons why Part Time Actors are better than Full Time Actors:

1. Good writers write characters that performers can relate to. They don’t write w/ “She’s like Rachel McAdams in Wedding Crashers”

— Sean Hackett (@shackett) April 11, 2012

2. It’s great that you dress like a hipster but I’ve heard you bitch about UTA not validating your parking for 10 minutes

— Sean Hackett (@shackett) April 11, 2012

3. Telling me that you took classes means nothing. Being treated like shit while working at Starbucks and not quitting does.

— Sean Hackett (@shackett) April 11, 2012

@Da7e @bellawonder 4. Full Time Actress agreed w/ 10 statements I said. I lied about the last 3 to make sure she was full of shit.

— Sean Hackett (@shackett) April 11, 2012

@Da7e @bellawonder 5. Day Job Actress nicely disagreed w/ situation in my script within first 3 minutes

— Sean Hackett (@shackett) April 11, 2012

6. Full Time Actress ended audition wanting to know how I got my manager. Part Time asked to read the script & promised she’d read it 2night

— Sean Hackett (@shackett) April 11, 2012

7.Performance wise you could tell Part Time put in a full night of prepping. Full time asked for sides off my iPad

— Sean Hackett (@shackett) April 11, 2012

8. Part Time had to arrange the meeting latebecause she’s a substitute teacher. Full Time was 10 minutes late w/ Coffee Bean.

— Sean Hackett (@shackett) April 11, 2012

9. PT seemed hungry, but not desperate. It was a relationship built.FT “acted” like she deserved the role bc she was on a TV Show

— Sean Hackett (@shackett) April 11, 2012

10. FT sounded like a PRmachine when we talked about her other gigs-”everyones great”/PT told me she gets nervous at screenings and why.

— Sean Hackett (@shackett) April 11, 2012

There’s a lot of major #AGYST fail here. Unpreparedness. A lack of respect for the material. A sense of entitlement. I think it all boils down to this: Being genuine.

@actresseliza @Da7e @bellawondera lot of actors “act” their way through auditions /ie Politicians gunning for the broad audience to win.

— Sean Hackett (@shackett) April 11, 2012

Let’s be clear: we’re not saying that full time actors aren’t talented, we know they are; maybe even more so than their part time counterparts. But this series of horrible experiences is more than coincidence.

Sean and I talked more about this topic, especially after one of the actresses’ agent tried to light him up over these comments. Here is what Sean had to say.

The great thing about working and living in LA is that you know all 31 flavors of bullshit. I write strong, smart female characters, because I love strong, smart female women. My mother was one. My wife is one. My editor/composer/upm is one.   My first child will likely be one.  They are around me in real life much more than they are portrayed in movies.

This rant came from a frustration that 4-5 women, who have acted in lead or supporting roles in studio features / Network TV/  or major indies, met up with me and they sacrificed their identity to be consciously agreeable or desirable.   And I feel like they trained themselves or were trained to be this way.

I have sympathy for all actresses and actors. Whether they have a full time job or not.  They basically go out and get fired on the first or second day 100-200 times a year. No one ever likes being told that they aren’t good enough and it takes a strong will and honestly some craziness to put yourself into that position.

But, in a high school clique sort of way, a lot of full time actors that I’ve met have little grasp on natural conversation. They talk like agents, producers, managers, and Film/TV characters because those are the people in their village that they not only talk to but really listen to.  The part time jobs, from my own dime-store psychology evaluation, help shape a personality and thus relate to the material I write even more.

Bitch, please. I had a guest role on Vampire Diaries.

From my perspective, I can see how having a day-job makes we PT actors more careful about our projects (since we have to request time off and don’t expect to get rich and famous off one gig), and we are less likely to take these opportunities for granted.

What do you think? Who has their shit together – the actors with the survival jobs, or the actors who “act” like Actors?

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About Wonder Russell

Actress, writer, filmmaker, Falcor guardian, lover of wine and reading in bed

Posted on April 12, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I completely agree. My other job has taught me how to run a successful office and be professional. Even knowing how to answer and talk on a phone is a skill most people don’t have. And I’m not desperate because I know the rent will get paid and that nobody owes me anything.

  2. i love this. thanks.

  3. I went through a similar experience to Sean’s. The PT actors were wonderful to work with. The FT actors, not so much. I didn’t like the fact that the other producers were under the false idea that we had to have marquee talent because frankly that doesn’t matter to me. Acting talent lies in how well you handle the part, name or no name. And yes, I did get the sense that the FT actors, with the exception of one, had a strong sense of entitlement on the set that added drag to the production.

    The PTs were much more careful and methodical, even if they only had a handful of lines to deliver. They’re there to work and because they love the craft. They were also much more approachable.

    It’s like the brochures for mutual funds say: “Past performance is not an indication of future results.”

  4. First off, fabulous stuff Wonder and Sean! =D What a great topic to talk about.

    Like most PT actor peeps I’ve developed a number of very helpful service, business, financial, etc. skills by working with and for other people in many a day job. All of these things have and continue to aide me in my career as an actor. I can’t imagine how frustrated I would be if I didn’t have >20 years of work experience to help me. #afrighteningthought

    The driven individual will work hard to succeed in a job as well as their passion, whether it be acting, skydiving, or volunteering. They want to do well because it’s important to them.

    Then there are the FT actors who volunteer in their local community, are prompt and work hard to impress on and off-set.

    I’ve seen the other side of the coin as well. I love the anecdote but I’m not comfortable generalizing.

    At the moment I’m working with some FT actors on a project and they’re working as hard as everyone who has FT day jobs. It’s incredibly collaborative and respectful on so many levels.

    Without creating a coast war, is this an experience that is common for people on the west coast? My experiences are all based in the north east and the ego issues I’ve seen/heard of have been fairly rare.

  5. Hm. Interesting you posted about this. Having gone between PT and FT I can say one thing for sure. The PT job definitely takes off some of the pressure.

  6. Awesome to hear, I had given up going after the career because I have to be PT and was feeling negatively about my chances against the FT actors. Thanks for the boost in confidence.

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