My friend Donald just landed a role in the Disney Channel movie “Girl Vs. Monster”. It’s his first big break and his question to me was, “what should I do with the money?”.
He is in his twenties, lives at home and is still going to school. Since we have both been too busy to get together, I thought I would write to him here. Maybe other actors would be interested in my advice. After all that was the idea behind this site. Actors helping actors.
First let me tell you how envious I am of you. Not because you are booking acting work. I have seen how hard you work in class and you deserve your success. I am envious because if I had had someone mentor me in personal finance when I was your age, I would probably be able to retire by now.
Troy over-acting at the Actor's Foundry
One of the things I always ask myself before I invest in anything is whether the rate of return I am receiving is superior or inferior to inflation. To me there is no point investing in an ING DIRECT account offering a 1.5% rate of return (before tax) if the inflation rate in Canada is 3%. Hard to get excited about only losing 1.5% of my money instead of 3% every year!
Well did you know that this same rule applies when you are acting?
One of the things I really enjoy about training at the Actor’s Foundry in Vancouver, is that you never know who will be hanging around the school. I was fortunate enough to be there when producer/director/writer and all around good guy Michael Nankin decided to sit in on our class.
He taught me an important lesson that I use in all my acting work today.
I spent the weekend doing the comedy intensive at the Actor’s Foundry here in Vancouver. It was a great learning experience and reminded me just how skilled one needs to be to do comedy scripts well.
We study many video clips of different performers, but ended the weekend with this clip and I wanted to share it with you.
The hardest part about being an actor is hanging in there and believing that all your hard work will pay off one day and you will be earning a good living doing what you love.
The same is true for investing. You set up an investment account of some kind, you deposit money into it, but you still feel broke all the time. It feels like all that discipline isn’t getting you ahead in life.
For me this month, it finally started to work.
I received three types of income this month, but only one of them required me to do any work!
- Residual income. I did a Milk commercial in 2009 and they have decided to re-run it on the internet. (I’m the guy smiling at the office party in the commercial above).
- Dividend income. On Jan. 10th and 27th I received payments from stocks I own. One dividend was automatically reinvested the other I will spend as I please.
- Earned income. I worked several days as a stand-in on Man of Steel.
Having other sources of income is great because it puts more cash in your pocket, but the real benefit is the freedom it buys you.
Last week I had an audition for the TV show Supernatural. Yesterday I audited a class at the Actor’s Foundry. This weekend I am doing a 2 day comedy intensive workshop.
I consider all of these activities part of my job although I don’t get paid to do them.
The only way I can afford to work and not get paid, is if I also get paid not to work.
I used to enjoy watching the cable show Entourage. Incase you have never seen it, it was produced by Mark Wahlberg and was roughly based on his real life experience when he moved from New York to L.A. when he was struck by instant fame.
I always enjoyed the show, because it was the first series I had ever seen that realistically dealt with the business side of show business. The main character, Vincent Chase, had an agent, manager, publicist and a business manager. I learned what all these different jobs were and how to deal with these different employees (your agent works for you by the way!) by watching the show.
There was one episode where the movie star, Vince, fires his agent and goes out seeking new representation. He goes to several meetings at different agencies only to find out they all want to talk about the same thing. His brand.
This scene is supposed to be comical, but it’s really pretty cool when you think about it. When was the last time you had an agent sit you down and tell you they planned to make your brand as recognizable as Apple Computers?
My agent told me at the beginning of 2011 that she was going to make me as popular as Research In Motion, but that’s another story…
Branding is one of the most important things an actor should focus on. I just started learning how to do it properly this year and am gearing up for a major publicity campaign when the new season starts in January.
To learn more about how to put the power of branding to work for you, I have included two articles.