Beyond Typical Film and Television

By: Kyle Dean

Many new actors often think that the business is all about booking work for typical film and television (by ‘typical’, I’m referring to live-action movies and primetime television shows). The common misconception here is that these types of programs is where all the money is, and what all actors need to shoot for in order to make it in this industry. Although it is true (to some extent) that much notoriety can be found in these arenas, there is much lucrative work to be found in other sectors of the industry. Here are some great acting specialties that should NOT be overlooked if you are looking to be a successful actor.


They may not be the deepest roles to flex your acting muscles, but commercials are quick and easy ways to make a lot of money. The commercial audition process tends to be significantly different from tv/film/theatre and usually consist of large, open call auditions with a fast callback turnaround. Commercials will then tend to start work almost immediately after the auditions, making it all fly by quickly. The actual number of work days vary on the project, but are usually just a few days. However, despite the brevity of work days, commercials will typically pay quite well. Scale wages (assuming that you are union) are more than reasonable, and will typically include some kind of buyout contract and or residuals. Residuals are great, and if your commercial happens to be a national spot that is aired frequently, you can expect sizeable checks in your mailbox periodically.

Commercials can also be a great way to get seen by millions of people across the world, and there have been a handful of people that have achieved quite a bit of notoriety from this – just look at the fairly recent ‘Old Spice Guy’ commercials and you will get my drift.


Theatre is also an often-overlooked aspect of the acting world, especially here in Los Angeles, where everyone is focused on film and television. It’s a fact that the Los Angeles theatre scene isn’t huge, and the pay for these projects isn’t any better. Money aside, theatre is always a solid choice for actors that like performing in front of live audiences, while also keeping their skills fresh. Even busy TV and film actors will often do short theatre stints in their down time, typically if they are on hiatus from a TV series. The only caveat here is to always be aware of the run dates for any theatre projects. Theatre runs typically last for several weeks, and can have a rigorous rehearsal schedule, meaning less time for you to audition for other projects. Summer is a great time for theatre projects because the TV/film side of the industry slows down significantly, so be aware!


Similar to commercials, voiceover work can be an actor’s goldmine. Voiceover work overlaps in pretty much every sector of the acting world – commercials, TV, films, and interactive projects to name a few. Voiceover projects (both the auditioning and work process) also tend to be fairly flexible (more so than live-action work), making them all the more easier to fit into any actor’s busy schedule. Voiceover auditions are great because, for the most part, they will require you to submit a self-recording of the audition material. These recordings can typically be done at the convenience of your own home (assuming you have the necessary equipment) or at your agency – especially if your agency has a voiceover department. One of the most ideal situations is to land a regular/recurring role on an animated series. Here, on top of receiving a steady paycheck (any actor’s dream), the flexible recording schedules that come with animated series often afford plenty of time to pursue and work on other projects. Look at actress Mila Kunis – she’s a main character on Fox’s Family Guy, yet she is still able go out and work on feature films – the best of both worlds.

Interactive Projects

“Interactive projects” here refers to the more digital/technological aspects of the entertainment industry, i.e. video games. With games becoming more and more realistic and cinematic, relying on Hollywood talent has become the norm. If you look at the majority of popular video game franchises, most of their voiceover and motion capture work is done using recognizable actors. A lot of these video games primarily use actors for their voiceover roles, however, having these same actors perform motion capture for these projects is becoming more and more common. For all you non-geeks out there, motion capture work (MoCap for short) in video games is when the actor has sensors attached to their body to digitally track and record their movements, thus making their video game counterparts more realistic. Some video games will even render their characters in the likeness of the actors – what better way to be immortalized than by being in a video game! Similar to standard voiceover work, these types of projects are also fairly flexible when it comes to their work schedules, making them quite ideal for the right person.

The above-mentioned types of projects are just a sampling of what is out there for actors. Don’t get stuck in the mindset that you have to be on a popular live-action show or movie in order to be successful. There are plenty of outlets available to not only flex your acting muscles, but to also make a lot of money, and expose yourself to unique and growing sectors of the entertainment industry.


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