There are approximately 160,000 actors in the United States. At any given time, roughly 1% are working. That is less than 2000 actors working. I am usually part of that 1%. In 2019, I worked in conventional union theatre and film in Portland Oregon for 20 weeks. I am also Co-Artistic Director of Original Practice Shakespeare Festival which performs Shakespeare in parks around Portland Oregon in the summer so add 12 weeks to that. And I work as a Standardized Patient (an actor who augments the training for medical, nursing, and other students in case simulations) at a major medical university. Those gigs are generally a day or so long. Added up, probably 10 weeks. I also teach workshops in acting, Shakespeare, auditioning, improvisation, and gender illusion. Call that 2 weeks. Out of 52 weeks last year, I worked as an actor for roughly 44 weeks. I earned about $40,000 for that work. I support my family of four (and Miles the dog & Ginny Weasley the cat) and receive few benefits: sick pay (when I call in on days I am working), free parking and lunch at the Standardized Patient job, comp tickets to shows. No medical, no 401k, no vacation pay. I’m not complaining; I know what I signed up for when I chose to be an actor. When so many of my colleagues don’t work as much as I do, I consider myself lucky. As the song says, who could ask for anything more?
Then COVID-19 hit the world. And in a matter of days, I watched as all my work for the next two months (and likely more) was cancelled. Suddenly, thousands of dollars in income was cancelled. It’s terrifying. Some people have understanding landlords who are cutting their rent in half for the next few months. My landlord is not. I am contacting the utility companies to ask for some leniency so fingers crossed. I have already used our savings for my wife’s unexpected medical costs. It is hard to ask, friends, but I need some financial help.
Whatever you can do, thank you. Your generosity is always greatly appreciated. And there are some premiums available! See, it’s just like a public radio fundraiser except my premiums are personalized! I am a talented writer & actor and I am happy to create a lovely, funny personalized special song for a birthday, anniversary, congratulations, etc. A video will be sent of me performing their special song to the person you are celebrating, continuing the social distancing we are all learning to live with. Happy to literally sing for my supper! If a song is not your speed, I can write a fun personalized poem for them (wacky rhyming is my specialty!) and perform that on a video for them. You don’t even have to know right now. You can hit me up for that video when you are ready; I am flexible.
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Y’all have always been so wonderful to me and other theatre artists and I know many folks are asking. Please keep me in mind as you make your giving decisions during this bizarre period. I thank you. My dog Miles thanks you. And Ginny Wesley the cat thanks you.