Second Shift: What it takes to be an actor living in New York City
We all know living in a city is expensive. How does the average person make it work? Our Second Shift series features people taking on more than one job to make ends meet. This week, meet Jenna, who is trying to make it as an actress while living in one of the country’s most expensive cities. If you want to be featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Jenna Bosco
Home: Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn
Lives with: Four roommates
Number of jobs: 4
You’re trying to make it as an actress. What does that look like on a daily basis?
I like to remind myself that my primary job is being an actress. So every day I wake up, get online and start looking for work. There are websites and databases where you can look at all the different projects and submit yourself by sending a cover letter and résumé. The chances of getting an audition are slim to none, so the chances of actually booking a role are almost impossible.
So you need to work other jobs to make ends meet.
Right. I have four part-time jobs. On Mondays, I teach drama to a bunch of adorable 5- to 9-year-old kids in Park Slope at a place that is part of a nonprofit. Tuesdays through Fridays I’m a server at B.B. King Blues Club near Times Square. There are all sorts of different events there, like comedy shows, musical acts or private parties. I’m usually there 5 to 11 p.m. On Thursdays, I work at Bloomberg Business Week, mailing out issues and writing a summary of their top stories every week. I got it through a temp agency and it’s a very basic job, but it’s nice being in an office once a week. My last part-time job is at Pace University as a standardized patient. Basically, I act as a patient or patient’s mom to nurses or physician’s assistants to help with their interpersonal skills. So, I’ll play a mom whose son got injured in a soccer game, for example.
Are all of these jobs pretty flexible in case you do get an acting gig?
Some are, like my serving job and my Bloomberg job. But my drama teaching job I wouldn’t ask for time off from unless it was for something huge.
How do you deal with being in such a competitive industry without getting down on yourself?
First of all, you have to remember why you’re doing it. I like to remind myself that I made a choice. I chose this. I could go do other things and work a stable, 9-to-5 job, but I didn’t. You also have to believe that you’re confident and talented enough to make it. There are so many parts of casting that are out of your control. I’ve also started using my passion in my own ways, like through the new web series I’m producing.
What is your web series about?
It’s called “New Heights” and it’s a nine-episode Web series loosely based on my experiences living in Crown Heights. I really wanted to write a Web series that was funny and relevant to being a young 20-something who is struggling in their career, especially an artistic career. But I also started looking at things going on in these neighborhoods we were living in; things like gentrification, race, class and privilege.
That’s great that you’re not waiting around to use your passion. You’re just finding your own ways to use it.
Do I think I’ll be a struggling actor when I turn 30? I don’t know yet, but for now it feels right. I like knowing that nothing is definite, and I’m just staying open to possibilities.
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence