The LeSabre

Can you make a decent living as an actor?

College theatre students are busting their butts to earn their major in the depart of fine arts that they desire. But is there a well-paying job waiting for them on the other end of the tunnel?

photo via Bonnie Brown Bologna under the creative commons license

photo via Bonnie Brown Bologna under the creative commons license

Mackenzie Krueger, Journalist

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“Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.”- Rumi

Actors have been known to be unstable financially, unless they are on Broadway of course, but is this entirely true? Can amateur actors make a decent living while pursuing a career in musical theatre? In the music business, there are bunches of different positions besides the common stage performer. The following include different positions as music majors and their estimated income:


Actor/Performer: $50,400

Musical Director: $51,000

Producer: $56,000

Artistic Director: $49,000

Production Assistant: $29,000

Drama Instructor: $46,000

Choreographer: $34,000

Music Instructor: $42,000


The Wizard of Oz (feat. Mackenzie Krueger)

Although these values are entirely desirable for people wanted to have a family, these incomes are enough to make a decent enough living. But making it to this point isn’t the only battle that an actor has to fight before making it big. First comes an audition, which you have to perfectly nail and in order to nail it, you have to practice and have professional training. This training definitely isn’t free, and it is intense and requires tons of concentration and discipline.

Bonnie Brown Bologna
The King and I (feat. Mackenzie Krueger)

Even after you practice intensely and make sure your audition is perfect, it may not work out and you still could not be cast. A director could be looking for all kinds of different traits in an actor whether it be blonde hair or long legs or even just a very specific height. Although these traits don’t reflect on the talent of the actor, it still weeds out the competition for who is and who isn’t going to get the part. The theatre business is very risky and can be very frustrating at times, especially when there is a long period of time when you are not cast in a show.

Another factor that can really affect the income of an amateur actor or actress is gender. Women are commonly paid less than men for all sorts of reasons, some realistic and some not. The website ScreenRant gives a long list of actresses who were paid less than their male co-stars. Actresses like Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep are included in this list, even though they are the super talents that they are.

Even after pursuing a major in Musical Theatre, many actors might end up dropping out. This obviously won’t create a successful future for them in this business. The drop out rate of theatre majors varies from each school and usually will depend on the intensity of the program of the school. An average drop out rate is around 10%; again this can have a much wider range of percentage based on the specific school. It can also vary on the specific musical theatre major that students are in. There is a BA (Bachelor of Arts) degree which is a more general major and there is a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) degree which is more specific to musical theatre and performance. Now depending on whether a student is truly committed to just musical theatre and performance, they will likely go for a BFA. But others who are unsure on their decision and pursue a BFA are likely to drop out because it is such a specific major.

Taking all these factors into account, it can really depend on the person to whether or not they can make a decent living. If someone is fully committed and puts their heart and soul into Musical Theatre, it is likely that they will become successful and hopefully make a lot more than just a decent income. For those who just enjoy theatre as a hobby, it isn’t likely that they will make the highest income that they possibly can. The performance business is a very risky and frustrating one, and a performer can go a very long time without having a steady job or show that they are performing in that pays. Something that can ensure a steady income for an actor is to earn an Equity card. This card guarantees that you will be paid for every show that you perform while you contain that card.

At the end of the day, if theatre is what you really love and you want to do it for your steady career, pursue it. You only get one life so you might as well spend it doing what you love to do. Never give up, reach for the stars, and remember that money is only temporary.

 

 

 

 

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