Generally, when one thinks of Los Angeles, one thinks of actors, models, and writers struggling along until they finally obtain fame. What kind of jobs would a ‘starving artist’ have to take to survive until that goal is achieved? As a struggling voiceover actor and writer, I can give you the inside deets on that.
I’ve held a wide range of jobs since I started pursuing my dream five years ago. It’s been hard at times finding steady jobs that would work with my voice over studio times and with my mostly disabled legs (I was hit by a drunk driver a decade ago, another story for another time), but here’s a list of most of those jobs I’ve held, in no particular order.
Promo Modeling/Brand Ambassador
I’m starting with one of my favorite random gigs. I would do more of these if my legs would allow it. Unfortunately, standing for 8 hours at a time makes my titanium laden legs start a quaking. I love working the majority of these gigs; they’ve allowed me to work with brands ranging from Gatorade to Affresh to my friend’s armory booth at a Renaissance Faire.
Every day is different, and generally the people you work and interact with are genuinely kind. To be honest though, I have encountered some terrible people through these gigs as well. I was doing a promo once during the Bart strike up in San Francisco, and if it weren’t for a random stranger, I would have probably been pushed (by another rando) onto the tracks. Another time, a crazy lady in the Bart station punched me in the back of the head and then ran off to the next Bart screaming about aliens and the apocalypse.
You’re going to encounter some weird people, but overall, this isn’t a bad gig. And if you’re not the Bionic Woman, like me, this could be a rad, good paying full-time job. But be warned, paychecks take anywhere from two weeks to four months after completing the job to get to you.
One of my least favorite survival jobs was data entry. The work was monotonous, repetitive, and soul crushing. I held this job for two years (longest ‘job’ I’ve consistently held) and as soon as I was on the outside looking in, I realized how miserable the job had made me. I miss the $15 an hour, but definitely not the job.
Various Improv Game Groups
Over the past several years I’ve worked a lot with various troupes for random improv gigs. It harkens back to my early days as a theater actress. In Go Game, company members would go on scavenger type hunts and I would be a plant to further their game. This meant I dressed up as a pirate, drunk bar patron, and the one I got kicked out of 3rd Street Promenade for, a taco.
Dinner Detective consisted of a dinner party where some of the guests were plants and might ‘die’ or ‘kill’ another patron during the course of the dinner. I usually played a victim who interacted with the patrons before being offed. I also got to play my hand at being the original victim as well as the killer. I do love a dramatic death scene.
An interesting improv group I took part in was the Princess Parties. Pretty much everyone has heard of the Disney princesses. And as someone who was raised in the 90s (and has five siblings and therefore a very busy Mom and Dad), I have long aspired to become Ariel. Or at least the idealized princess part of her that I saw in Disney films. And I got to play that character, Sleeping Beauty, Merida (Scottish accent a la Shrek), and even Rapunzel. I rock a wig quite well. I enjoyed the various ways I got to bring joy to others without having an ordinary same ol’ same ol’ job, but I still really wish I had been accepted as a faerie performer.
Audience Gigs/Background Acting
Audience gigs are freaking rough. I’m not sure how most people get through more than one of these a month without first eating a special brownie (not that I’ve ever done anything of the sort before a gig). These jobs are definitely a last resort, but when I need to pay my phone bill like, yesterday, they’re a quick and easy way to make $50.
The job is skull deadening boredom. Even if it is kinda cool to be sitting 20 feet from where Kathy Bates is performing or Eva Longoria is running a competition. Background acting has a lot of the same qualities of audience gigs (I literally sat on a beach for 4 hours for a Matt LeBlanc movie, which apart from being in a pretty funny movie with Joey, is a lot less fun than it sounds). It has the same kind of thrill quality with the celebs, but it’s very sporadic, and not very well paid work.
This job was… interesting. I only tried it out a handful of times though, since after the first cuddle sesh, the guys always asked for my number. Stupidly, at my first gig, I did give it away when asked for it (we had a good convo about Deadpool, give me a break!). These guys are literally paying someone to cuddle with them; they are very lonely. Which means they can also get quite mean if their advances are turned down. And, although the $60 an hour was nice, there just wasn’t enough wannabe cuddlers to make it even a part time gig.
Foot Fetish Modeling
And I’m not talking about rocking shoes for a Payless ad. I’m talking guys sucking my toes and me mashing their face with my feet – while telling them how worthless they are. I mean, I do have pretty freaking cute little feet (not to brag, I’m just used to interviews where literally all I do is try and talk about myself positively. Argh!). There are ways to earn extra money with this gig, but I’m not going to rub some guy’s ding a ling with my feet for an extra $100. That’s not worth what little dignity I have left.
As you can see, I have many sordid gigs in my past, some more on the risqué side than others. The main thing I’ve discovered while looking for (and frequently booking) these random gigs is that everyone has a line they won’t cross. Mine happens to be giving out foot jobs.
Brittany Morgan Williams is a 27-year-old voice actress, writer, and book editor. Originally from Redding, California, she graduated from Humboldt State University with degrees in Theater, Film, and Dance as well as English and has been able to utilize skills learned there in her chosen careers. She’s lived in Los Angeles for three years pursuing her career goals. Brittany has produced 6 audiobooks with Dana Burkey and edited 16 books with her.
Currently, Brittany is book editor for Dana Burkey and Tom Monson. She is currently writing a young adult apocalyptic book as well as a dramatic play. She also writes content for Exsplore.com and Candid Chronicle.
Voice over wise, Brittany just completed 2 video games, ‘Tales’ and ‘Planet Explorers.’ She is currently in the animated series ‘VonnWorld’ with director Christopher Ellis. In 2017, you can hear Brittany in the animated film ‘The Windwater Pack,’ in the podcast ‘Talisman of Hoshruba,’ the audiobook ‘Melin,’ and the audiobook ‘The Archimage Wars.’
She’s actively auditioning and always open to new voice over, editing, and writing gigs!