Nothing prepares you for the life of an actor, no matter how much you train or how long you have been on the stage, rehearsing or preparing monologues, nothing sets you up for the torment of not having any work. This is the reality for most actors; in such a competitive industry the only way to survive is to have a second job, a way of paying the bills whilst you try to achieve your dreams.
I have tried so many temp jobs, from bar work to call centres. Lots of actors go down the route of bar work and while it is fantastic for your cocktail making skills, the hours can be unsocial and the pay can be poor. Call centres also have their downside, as they can be soul destroying especially if you end up trying to sell rubbish to people who neither want nor need it, always hitting targets with little to no benefits. I remember giving free sunflower seeds to an older lady once on a call because she had seen an advert for it on the television; I then had to try and up-sell her on an accompanying book. She asked me flat out, “do I really need this?” I couldn’t lie and told her no. Well you can imagine how that went down with my supervisors listening in on the call.
Doing temp work however has allowed me to live and work in London, it has freed me to pay my way and after a long time the flexibility of the work has allowed me to start my own Repertory Theatre Company. I have worked many, many temp jobs since coming to London from reception work, to archiving, stock rooms and data entry in basements, filing mouldy paper work to squeezing the juice out of fruit, watching adverts from the 1940’s and 50’s to entering medical information into a database. I have worked for some of the world’s biggest brands like Nike and Ralph Lauren and met some amazing people. Don’t get me wrong there have been some negatives too like the overzealous supervisor whose attitude towards temps is that we must all be blithering idiots and micro managed so much he attempted to teach me how to use scissors to cut cello tape.
This line of work is not what we want to do or plan to do, but it gets us by and the best part about it is that it is flexible enough to allow us to make time for the work we are passionate about. Flexy’s app allows you to keep track of your temp work, from clocking in to submitting timesheets, from getting the job to getting paid for the work. It teaches you to be business savvy, to keep your records up to date and be professional but most importantly it does what it says on the tin, it is flexible. Actors must always be flexible, we play so many different roles in our careers, and the Flexy App has so many different ones to choose from.
Simon Stewart – Actor, Director, Producer, Temp.
Simon is an actor, director and producer and founded All or Nothing Repertory Theatre Company.