Dolla Billz: 10 Things to Invest in that Will Boost Your Acting Career

5265826Don’t let anyone ever tell you that acting isn’t expensive. It. Is. But as many of you can probably know all too well, especially in the beginning, disposable funds can be hard to come by. When you have to choose between headshots, lessons, and about a million other wonderful but pricey opportunities, it can be hard to know where to invest your $50 stipend from that non-Equity theatre gig you did in a desperate attempt get seen, get experience, or get by until your next artistic fix. So, in a shameless capitulation to the power of capitalism, here are some things you should start invest in that actually will help you run the business side of an acting career.

  1. Unfortunately, yeah, this is one you actually have to invest in. And good headshots will probably put a dent in the bank account. But don’t give up if you simply don’t have the budget to shell out top dollar immediately. Do your research and shoot for the top of your budget.
  2. A Camera. iPhone-recorded auditions might be all the rage, but when it comes to self-taping auditions, a good camera comes in very handy and will provide a quality look. Plus, if you are serious enough about creating a home studio, it can save you a lot of money on taping services.
  3. A Tripod. For the camera. Self-explanatory.
  4. Two Studio Lights. Good lighting makes a big difference in the quality of look on a self tape. Go for soft box or umbrella studio lights to make it look profesh. These can be super affordable.
  5. Curtain or Painted Wall. Backdrops count. Have a stretch of wall you’ve never known what to do with? Paint it blue. Boom. Home studio. If you don’t have a wall, invest in some nice heavy curtains you can use as a backdrop.
  6. A Gym Membership. We live in a shallow, shallow world, chickens. Keeping in shape is not a frivolous expense when it comes to acting. Plus, the more athletic you are, the more special skills you can put in that lovely little section at the bottom of your resume. (This note is all body-types inclusive. Acting takes stamina).
  7. Gotta keep your skills in shape too! It’s important to be a lifelong student of your craft. If you’ve been out getting practical experience for a couple years, great! But maybe it’s time to make sure your technique isn’t rusting.
  8. Workshops are a great way to get seen and build specialized skills. Workshops with casting directors and agents will keep you connected, master classes in things like firearms and working on set will make sure you stay well-rounded. Depending on what city you’re in, you may pay more, less or not at all for some of these, but it’s good to have stash of cash for the one-off educational experience.
  9. Breakdown Services Subscriptions. Luckily, you can be a member of Cast It Talent for freeeeeeeee! (Thus saving a lot on submitting)! But if you’re in it for the long haul and have the budget, consider upgrading to Cast It Talent Pro and maybe getting an Actor’s Access or other breakdown service subscription to boot. They pay for themselves pretty quickly.
  10. I don’t mean every day is Treat Yo Self day. But remember that we’re in a business that makes use of who you are as a person. So make sure you’re doing things and having experiences outside of acting that enrich you, excite you, and keep you inspired as an artist and a person.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. You have a long road ahead of you and can sprinkle these purchases in along the way. Prioritize based on where you are in your career right now. Feeling like you’re not technically ready to submit to agencies? Take some classes before anything else. If you have easy access to a cheap taping service, hold off for a month on building your home studio. Create a budget for your business. The sooner you start thinking of these things the more efficiently you’ll manage your career.


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Rachel Rachel Frawley is an actor living in Atlanta. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University (with cognates in Music and Professional Writing) and is an Apprentice Company graduate from the Atlanta Shakespeare Co. She also works as an education artist for local theatres, which have included the Shakespeare Tavern and Aurora Theatre. For more information, visit her website at

One Comment

  1. Qiana M Davis
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    Hello fellow Spartan! Go State! Great tips. I’m an actress who is still in the early stages of my career despite having landed the lead in an independent feature film. I’m currently revamping my acting action plan as we speak. If you haven’t already perhaps you can do a series about income streams for actors to pay for all these pricey expenses. Gonna share this in my group on Facebook called Detroit Actors Networking. If you’re on Facebook please join us. My members can benefit from your tips

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