How Do You Go From Play to Pay?

So you’re ready to get paid for your acting but you’re the only who knows it? Not to worry. The problem is the solution here. Making this transition can be a powerful way to step up in your career.

Check out this week’s Acting Business Bite to find out a graceful and seamless way to let your collaborators know you are looking to be paid for your work – whatever pay means to you.

What was your first paying gig and how did you make that transition?


16 Responses to “How Do You Go From Play to Pay?”

  1. Brandi says:

    Awesome question, awesome answer! I am in process of ‘up-leveling’ too. So hard here in the South. More of a ‘barter system’ here.

    My first paying gig? I was a featured dancer in a ‘Banana Splits’ music video in NYC, many years ago.

    • Dallas says:

      Brandi, A Banana Splits Video sounds like the perfect first paying gig!

      Just know your value and trust that the right people will know it too and reward you accordingly.

  2. The summer I was 14 or so, I was a participant in the Teen Age Performing Arts Workshop in NYC, and sang and danced in a production of the oratorio “Elijah”. We rehearsed from 9am-1pm every day, and got paid minimum wage. Respect! Government funding for the arts!

  3. Kenn says:

    First non-union job: A year after grad school, I was dancing in a summer stock production of Li’l Abner (but it took almost a year of calling them before they paid me, even after they became union and started paying their professionals!), after studying for about 4-5 years and auditioning for several summers without getting hired. First union job: Less than a year later, I was hired to do the Aggie Specialty in Best Little Whorehouse, after friends repeatedly insisted I audition for the show in my home town.

  4. Sumiko Braun says:

    Sweet video! I’m also in the process of ‘up-leveling’ so this is super helpful. Thanks!

    Ahh, my first paying gig was over a decade ago: a music video for the band Three Doors Down. In my second bout with acting (years later), my first paying gig was a music video for British Sea Power. Fun stuff!

  5. Velina Brown says:

    Great advice Dallas. So clear.

  6. Great question and great answer! This is such a tricky challenge for actors, including myself who want to maintain beautiful relationships. Dallas, you always remind us the problem is the solution, such great advice, it keeps me honest and humble. I am grateful for all your advice!

    • Dallas says:

      Thanks Christina. I like to define “pay” in three ways: If a job feeds your artistic soul, gives you access to a solid relationship, or puts money in your bank account.

  7. Clara says:

    Thanks so much for answering my question Dallas!

    You’re answers are always so thorough, and I deeply appreciate how you manage to craft the perfect script for every situation! Always golden. Always priceless.
    I’m definitely reminded to look deeper at events and figure out how “the problem becomes the solution.”

    I’m so glad you addressed that pay does come in different forms, as I knew this was part of the equation, but wasn’t sure how to fit it in.
    As I am currently expanding into the world of writing and directing, knowing when to to accept vs. when to turn down work is further complicated as I recognize I will soon be in the filmmakers shoes, and may be asking them for help!
    The specificity of your note that it’s pay “if a job feeds your artistic soul, gives you access to a solid relationship, or puts money in your bank account, ” will definitely help to navigate which projects to invest in in the future.

    Big, big, big whomping THANK YOU!


  8. Mary Lahti says:

    Hi Dallas, perfect! I find that I’m getting stronger about my commitment in that respect but it did help to understand that “pay” isn’t always in the form of money. I do consider exposure, opportunity/experience and in some cases help for someone who perhaps helped me and that’s the least I could do (unless of course it’s a union gig ). I try not to be wishy washy about it so people take me seriously. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Sean Deblat says:

    Hey Dallas!
    Thanks so much. I’ve been struggling with this since I decided to take my acting career to the next level and only accept paying jobs. And I have been feeling awkward telling the students/indie filmmakers that I’ve worked with over the past few years that I can no longer work for free. I’ve actually been doing what you’re suggesting in this video. However, I haven’t been doing it with complete confidence in my decision. But hearing this just put my whole situation into perspective and made me absolutely certain that I’m doing what is necessary to move my acting career forward. For the most part, everyone has been very understanding. And I’m maintaining the relationships too. Thanks for another awesome “Business Bite,” Dallas!
    All Good Things,

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