How do you argue with the old “Free Money” line?

So Matthew recommended a great advanced word processing class for me, I signed up and before I was finished he had a word processing job lined up for me at Citibank in Manhattan. Fortunately, I had taken a typing class in high school and between my fingers and my brain, I was suddenly an actor making a reasonable living. My first week’s check paid for the class (and then some) and I was working non-stop and auditioning at will.

Now, I must say, that I personally never met a word processing temp that was not involved in show business in some way. It was a small world and we helped each other out. Just like computing, it was extremely creative and analytical. Actors take acting classes all the time to keep their emotional instrument in tune and word processing required constant exploration of the tools we had in our toolbox in order to be able to respond instantly to whatever problems arose.

While I thought it was common knowledge that all of us temps were in show business, I was wrong. Irene was an artist: she painted on canvas. Did I mention the pictures of her girls? Not all of them were photographs. Many were paintings and they were obviously crafted and framed with love.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch –

I had been called upon more and more to help other temps upgrade their skills. My mother, uncle, and grandmother had been teachers, and my brother was a teacher, so you could say it runs in the family. It went from casual one on one sessions at lunchtime to several people gathered around my desk after work for an hour or so one or two nights a week. When I started making User Guides, it dawned on me that I could be making a fortune. Relatively speaking.

But I was always torn between my love of things that moved or lit up and people that were moving or lit up. Sometimes it was hard to remember that I was doing this as a means to an end. When I was cast in my first commercial, clarity had its moment.

In subtle ways, my overall rep started to change. People knew that I was doing this because I enjoyed it (and I did), not because I had to do it. Even the lessons that I was giving enjoyed a little more respect and attention. In the world of TV commercials, once you start to appear on the tube, agents and casting directors recognize you at auditions and start to think of you in a small way as “the next big thing,” so you’re cast again. Think about it. How many times have you seen an actor or actress in a cute commercial and then suddenly you start seeing them in more and more commercials? It’s the safety factor of recognition. No one wants to take a chance on an unknown actor when millions of dollars are at stake.  But someone who’s been paid by another company to advertise their product? “That actor is a Star so I’ll hire them and they’ll make MY product shine!”

Not really. Commercial actors and soap opera actors simply have more exposure to the entire country. Some may reek of talent and either shortly or eventually go on to “stardom” because eventually their talent will be given a chance to truly shine.