I teach actors they don’t have to be ‘starving artists’ — here are my top 3 tips for financial independence

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Shaun Grant.

  • Shaun Grant is an actor, author and podcaster who teaches financial wellness.
  • He says doing work you love can keep money in an actor’s pockets for auditions and headshots.
  • Grant details how giving with gratitude and changing your money mindset can attract more of it.

I have had the good fortune of acting in over 100 projects in the entertainment industry. 

I combined my love for money consciousness awareness with my love of acting to write a book and start a podcast called “The Money Cure: Healing Your Relationship To Money and Discovering The True Path to Abundance.” 

I was determined to help my fellow actors thrive financially while pursuing their careers, but one of the biggest obstacles for aspiring actors and actresses has been money. 

I’d argue that this was never an issue until it became an accepted truth in society that actors have to be “starving artists” as they pursue their careers. This idea is so widespread now that most people think of actors as people who don’t have any money.

This doesn’t have to be the case. 

Lacking money doesn’t have to be a reality for any aspiring actor or actress

As an experienced acting teacher, it’s staggering to think about how many performers miss out on top notch training because they’re not excelling financially. 

The good news is that financial surplus doesn’t have to come from acting right away.

Here are three steps to creating more than enough money in your life while manifesting your career as an actor.

1. Take jobs where you can do what you love (and no, it’s not a cliché)

This is by far the most important part of actualizing a considerable amount of income. Instead of waiting tables or telemarketing, get involved in something that really matters to you, or contributes to the evolution of your acting career. 

If it feels good inside, that means it’s not only good for you, but it’s also good for the rest of the world — which means it’s providing value, and therefore should earn you money. 

Some examples of jobs that came naturally for me are personal training and freelance writing. Working in fitness gave me the opportunity meet so many people in the entertainment industry. I had access to — and built relationships with — actors, producers, directors, and casting directors when I was working at one of the most popular fitness centers in LA.

When it came to freelancing, writing for my favorite websites kept me creative. Freelancing helps many people generate income — I’ve known people who make $20,000 a month writing for Medium. You may not reach that amount, but it could still be a great side hustle for an actor.

You can find out what your heart is saying to you about what you’d be happiest doing. First — get relaxed; then focus on your breathing, placing a hand on your heart. Now ask yourself, “What is the greatest path for me to realize financial abundance, to support myself and my acting career?”

To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with just getting any job — but the truth is that your job will ultimately become part of you as a performer. Your energy could potentially become intertwined with an occupation that doesn’t help you be the best actor you can be. 

2. Throw the struggle stories out with the trash 

It only takes one person to state something as fact for it to spread like the plague. Unfortunately, people will often state that pursuing a career in acting is supposed to be financially difficult.

It’s only difficult if you accept that as your own personal belief.

Keep in mind, your beliefs will run your life, and you can never progress past your own beliefs. So, in every sense, it’s extremely important to ensure that your beliefs serve you and your goals.

Before I moved to LA from New Orleans, it seemed that everyone in the industry that I talked to had some form of negative advice. I knew that I couldn’t allow myself to be defeated by the beliefs of other people — so I ignored them as much as I could — and each time the negative comments would come in, I’d toss it out and replace it with a positive uplifting thought, like, “I decide my own success. Los Angeles feels right for me. There are enough acting jobs to go around.”

I’ve known actors in the past who have settled for less because of the advice of one well-meaning, yet pessimistic person. It shaped the way their mind saw the world and consequently, their life produced those negative results. 

Never listen to the stories of mandatory struggle, no matter how constructive they may seem. It just doesn’t help. If we commit to being positive, we will always receive exactly what we need.

3. Give what you have

This is so simple that I often kick myself for not doing it earlier in my own life. 

If you desire more money in life, then give more money. If you desire to book acting roles, help a fellow actor or actress book more roles. If you desire more cash flow as an actor, help other actors achieve more cash flow.

Once, I had -$700 in my bank account because projects I was hoping would pay me had fallen through. I was borderline depressed and couldn’t figure out what to do.

I went to a spiritual event one morning that motivated me to turn things around. At the end of it, they asked for donations.

My stomach dropped: I had four quarters in my wallet.

I was so embarassed. I took a deep breath and realized, this opportunity wouldn’t have come up if I didn’t have anything to give — so with all the courage and faith I had, I gave away two of my quarters.

Later that day, I was coming home from the gym, and was drawn to my mailbox on a Sunday. I didn’t check it that often, so I wasn’t expecting anything, so imagine my surprise when I saw a check was in there for $800. It was a gift from a relative for no reason at all, other than to show her appreciation for my having been kind to her.

I kept wondering — how could she have known the near exact amount I needed?

Most would say it was a coincidence. But the interesting thing was that I wasn’t drawn to the mailbox until I gave the two quarters. It turns out the check had been in there since Wednesday. I learned that when I’m willing to give, and give from the heart, I’ll always have exactly what I need.

Having more money is possible while you wait for your big break

Actors shouldn’t have to walk into every audition thinking, “I need to book this to get paid.” There’s no fun in your career doing that.

When you begin to do what you love, sidestep negativity, and give what you have with gratitude, nothing can stop you from getting what you want and being the best that you can be.

Our beliefs about money control our financial lives — when we set these beliefs in line with financial wellness, we can be unstoppable in the pursuit of goals.

Shaun Grant is an acting coach and financial wellness teacher.

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