Fund Your Career with the Actors Fund

by Teresa Reilly on July 1, 2009

A few months ago, I was on a spec commercial set, bemoaning my lack of work.  No, not the acting kind (although, I frequently bemoan the lack of that, too).  I was complaining about the absence of rent-paying jobs.  That’s right, folks, the vital and often annoying Survival Job.  The classic joke is that every waiter in New York and Los Angeles is actually a broke actor (a joke I find to be used in a rather crass way.  Hey, buddy, that broke actor is serving you your dinner in order to support his/her artistic pursuit!  Very noble, if you ask moi.)  The good news about acquiring Survival Jobs to support the oft-expensive acting habit that we’re all addicted to: you get to work in various interesting job markets and develop all kinds of cool skill sets!  (Not only do I know how to market annual subscriptions for a suburban theater company, I also know the technical terminology of candle-making, how to mark up and sell high-end men’s suits, and how to flyer three city blocks at a time with membership coupons for the local gym.)  The bad news: you have to look for a Survival Job almost as much as you have to look for the ultimately important Acting Job.

The best news?  That’s why the Actors Fund exists.  To fill your pocketbook, so you can fill your soul with acting, directing, editing, whatever floats your artistic boat!  That’s what my friend Amy told me that day on set, and I finally hauled my tush over to their office to check out their orientation seminar.  And it was awesome! This is an entire office, a whole “human services organization” that helps “all professionals in performing arts and entertainment.”  You got that?  That means everyone.  You don’t have to be part of SAG or AEA or AFTRA.  All you have to be is a professional performer, and the Actors’ Fund will help if you ever need it!  Their mission states that “the Fund is a safety net, providing programs and services for those who are in need, crisis or transition.”  New to the Big Apple?  Check out the Actors Fund!  Desperately need a doctor?  Call the Actors Fund!  Or, if you’re like me, need a sideline Survival Job?  Go visit the Actors Fund’s great work guide, the Actors’ Work Program…

So here’s what I learned today at the orientation seminar:

-  The Actors’ Work Program facilitates FREE consultations for union professionals to help form a career plan to gain job placement that can support your acting career.  Need flexible scheduling?  Need part-time hours?  The Work Program can help.

-  The Actors’ Work Program not only offers FREE counseling services and seminars in computer programs such as Outlook, Excel, and Powerpoint, they also have weekly workshops focusing on resume building and interview techniques as well as monthly career panels.

-  Come to the Actors’ Fund monthly Networking Breakfasts!  They have great guests to help guide you through proactive strategies for earning money.

-  After attending the orientation and at least one other seminar, you can sign up to be on the weekly comprehensive job listings email blast!

Need health insurance?  (I wrote about this in my last post, and was so excited to find an awesome resource to help all of us make sure we get the proper care we deserve!)  The Actors’ Fund facilitates free medical care several times a month to low income and uninsured residents in the “performing arts and entertainment communities.”  They can even help you get referrals and prescriptions.  For those in LA county, contact Dan Kitowski for complete details at dkitowski@actorsfund.org.

- Broadway star and singing powerhouse Brian Stokes Mitchell is the President of the Actors’ Fund.  Awesome!

- If you are retiring, have/are a minor, need low-income housing, have HIV/AIDS, are a musician, and/or want to go back to school and need info about tuition options, the Actors Fund can help.  I can’t say that enough.  Take advantage of their

I hope, if you are an LA, Chicago, or NYC based performer, you will check out the Actors’ Fund.  Even if you are not, the Actors Fund can actually help performers in ANY state.  It’s a fabulous resource with smart and kind offices, and it again proves the power of artists helping artists succeed.  So, go out there and break a leg!  (And if that ever literally happens…contact the Actors Fund.)

THE ACTORS FUND, FOR EVERYONE IN ENTERTAINMENT

www.actorsfund.org

info@actorsfund.org

800.221.7303

National Headquarters
729 Seventh Avenue, 10th floor
New York, NY  10019
212.221.7300

The Actors Work Program – NY
729 Seventh Avenue, 11th floor
New York, NY  10019
212.354.5480

Midwestern Region
203 N. Wabash, Suite 2104
Chicago, IL  60601
312.372.0989

Western Region and The Actors Work Program – LA
5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 400
Los Angeles, CA  90036
323.933.9244

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