There’s a lot of talk out there about taking whatever work you can get because it’s about getting your name out there. This is tricky because sometimes it’s the best thing you can do and other times it’s the worst choice possible. But how do you know? Well there are some simple guidelines to help you know for sure, so you can keep moving your acting career forward instead of halting it to a stop.
First of all, check to see where you are. Are you just starting out? If you’re still at the beginning and getting to know your style, interest and talent, then yes, work for free. Volunteer for student projects, art films and independent work. Put your name out there. Let people know you’re willing and available. But commit to short stints. Allow this for a year and see what you’ve learned from it and also check to see how you’re progressing. If you haven’t progressed, it’s likely time for acting classes or hiring a personal coach - otherwise you’ll be stuck donating your time for years to come.
If you’ve been acting for a longer period of time, with more experience under your belt, then you need to look at the financial side. People will still want you to work for free. But here’s the general rule: only work for free when it’s for a group or company that’s connected, that you know will open big doors for you or let you connect with a big director, performer or writer. That’s the only time you work for free once you’ve proved your talented and are ready to be more professional. At this stage, you don’t work for free for anyone else, especially your friends. This compromises your own professionalism as well as the financial bar for your industry. When actors at the mid to upper level range act for free without proper reason, they lower the bar and thus make it easier for actors to not get paid or be significantly underpaid.
You don’t have to be a starving artist just because you haven’t made it to the red carpet. Do yourself and your peers a favor and demand professionalism. This adds to your value, honor and integrity of talent and reputation.Your acting career is waiting to be taken to the next level. Call us at the New York Acting School for Film and Television to see our classes and specials!