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  • Writer's pictureHelen Walling-Richards

Full Time Acting Availability!

I am happy to announce that as of today, 13th November 2019, I am completely available as a full time actor.

Like many actors, especially those starting out, I have maintained a part-time job alongside my acting career. It's a job that I've been in for a number of years and it has provided security for covering my bills, and so I have struggled with taking the leap of faith to leave it and focus on what I love. But it gets to a point in life when you realise what your priorities are and that life can be short and is precious, and that it's important to fill your life with what inspires and impassions you.

As much as working part-time allowed me some flexibility to attend auditions, workshops, do self development and many of the other numerous things that we actors do behind the scenes unpaid to build our careers on the days I wasn't at the office - as acting work gets busier, with notification of an audition sometimes being with less than 24 hours notice and the potential to be cast in a production that requires days/weeks/months, unless someone has an alternative job or position that allows that huge amount of flexibility, it gets to the point that you have to prioritise flexible living over anything else. I now understand where the stereotype of actors being bar workers or waiters/waitresses comes from! (Because it is largely true, along with a variety of other jobs we find to fit in around our acting careers.)

I hold a Business Management degree but I had made the decision when I went to Rose Bruford that I was going to make acting my career - which ultimately means walking away from that degree and attempting to further a career in business. I did try establishing my own business in 2018 after I graduated Rose Bruford in order to pay my bills through self-employed work and not be accountable to anyone else when I needed time off for acting work, auditions or development as and when I needed to. As much as I loved strategising my business plan and making it happen, meeting new people and helping my clients, I realised that it's difficult to juggle two self employed jobs, as being an actor is a self employed business which takes a huge amount of time and commitment; as does any self employed work. I found myself spending most of 2018 building my new business (in order to support my acting career) but neglecting myself as an actor; and throughout this year, since I re-prioritised focusing my time and efforts on acting, I've found myself neglecting my other self employed work (all whilst also working in an office part-time).

As much as my intentions for going self employed in other industries were to support my acting, and I did enjoy building my business and seeing the fruits of it, I will likely have to let it go so that I don't risk focusing my time and efforts on that more than on acting; also because I realise that any last minute auditions that come up may mean cancelling clients and letting them down, which I don't like to do. However, I have developed a skill (I'm now a qualified massage therapist) which may be useful for an acting role or in life in general in the future, exercised other skills I enjoy but haven't utilised much previously (such as designing logos, marketing materials, marketing strategies and web design) and met some lovely people. Truly, nothing in life is wasted but enriches and builds us to be better and who we are.

The biggest change is taking the leap of walking into the unknown. Five weeks ago I handed in my notice on my part-time office job. I have signed up for zero hour contract work as I know my bills will still come in even when acting work doesn't, but this will allow me to be completely flexible with anything to do with acting, and being PAYE is less time consuming than self employed work.

I know some actors manage both self employment and acting successfully, or they have extremely flexible work that allows them to take time off as and when required for acting, or they're happy to make acting fit around whatever else is going on in their life. For me, I have spent a few years juggling all this but found I have reached a cap on what it will allow for my acting, and I am no longer happy with that limit; I'm at the point that I need to give my acting profession my undivided attention and effort to build my career further. I'm naturally a planner and a strategiser - giving up the known and walking into the unknown is scary to someone like me. But I'm trusting the Universe, I'm trusting the laws of statistics and tenacity, and I'm trusting myself. People adapt, as will I, and I'm trusting that not only will I adapt, but thrive.

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