How to Pursue Your Art WHILE Earning an Income
Coach Jimmy: So I’m here with Kimmy and with Jess and we are in the middle of the Theater District in New York City. So give me a brief synopsis of your history as an artist, as an actor.
Jess: Okay. So me, I started when I was really young. It’s something that I’ve always loved to do, but since my Mom was in the business she actually did soap operas as a hair stylist so it kind of got me really excited about it and then finally started doing more community theatre and eventually got my union card and so I’m just been doing it ever since.
Coach Jimmy: So, always, like you just always and forever?
Jess: Always. Since I was a babes. Yeah.
Coach Jimmy: And you’re a child actress as well.
Kimmy: Yes, yeah. I started when I was five.
Coach Jimmy: I feel so out of place! It’s all the child actresses!
Kimmy: You started when you were young. I know your story.
Coach Jimmy: Yeah, but go ahead.
Kimmy: Yes, I started when I was five in theatre and then TV and film from when I was nine and it was just in my blood. My parents were in the circus, which you’ve known about, and my Dad grew up in theatre and so, yeah, it’s just always kind of been a part of my family.
Coach Jimmy: Now I sang in Elementary School and I did stuff in Church, but my first actual musical, which was Singing in the Rain, wasn’t until my senior year of High School.
Kimmy: Really? That’s still young though.
Coach Jimmy: So that’s what I wanna do…
Kimmy: That’s still young though. You’re acting like….
Coach Jimmy: But I felt like I was so behind, because people started at five, like you.
Kimmy: Well, yeah, but …
Coach Jimmy: So we all realize at a young age, we wanna do this so we’re like…well maybe your parents were different than mine. I’m like, “I wanna be a performer when I grow up,” and my parents gave me one of these like, “Good for you. Make sure you have a…” Did you ever get the back-up plan talk?
Jess and Kimmy: Oh yes, yeah.
Coach Jimmy: Okay. So what was the back-up plan?
Jess: It was, “Make sure you at least have a college degree.” That was it. Didn’t matter what it was. As long as I had a degree in it, then we’re good. So, that’s what I did. I went to Community College and have a degree and that was it.
Coach Jimmy: In when?
Jess: Basically liberal arts.
Coach Jimmy: No, totally! And I feel like…so, I feel like the parents have already said, “Have a Plan B,” because they want to protect us.
Coach Jimmy: Because more people don’t make it here than do. Which I always find it funny that doctors drop out of med school all the time and lawyers don’t make it. Nobody tells them to have a Plan B, but us artists, that’s like, “That’s not a real job. Have a Plan B.”
So, being here in the city, you being bi-coastal. Here sometimes, LA sometimes. What has been the biggest challenge to just pursue your dream? Do you feel like it’s the financial part of that?
Jess: I mean for me, it’s the number one thing because all of a sudden now I have to not just schedule my auditions when I’m scheduling my other job so then I can go to those auditions, so that’s really the biggest thing for me.
Coach Jimmy: Right.
Kimmy: I’m having someone tell me I can’t leave for auditions. That was the killer.
Coach Jimmy: Totally.
Kimmy: It’s like having a boss and be like, “I have this great audition for this thing at Paramount.” Well, unless you wanna get fired. That’s what my options were. Either be in a job that I hated or pursue my dream.
Coach Jimmy: You know, because I waited tables and it was…it never failed. My agent would always call the day before. “You have something tomorrow,” and it was like, “Can I find somebody to pick up my shift?” And half my friends, when I was living here in New York, would come to New York, say “I’m just going to get a temp job.” And then the temp job, they’re a slave to and they never get to go on auditions and they never get to do any of these things.
So, what I love is the fact that as we’ve continue to talk about this ‘artistpreneur’ mentality, cause I feel like the entrepreneur has become sexy. It went from like, it just meant you didn’t have a job, to now it’s like really sexy. It’s like this ‘entrepreneurist’ part.
I feel like what I get frustrated with, with myself from the past and with myself that are artists, is they have this mentality that, “We’re supposed to be broke. Oh, that’s just the way this is. I’m just supposed to be play this kind of victim mentality until the magic fairy comes and discovers me.”
Do y’all find the same thing?
Jess and Kimmy: Yes. Absolutely
Jess: And it’s frustrating too, because it’s you put so much of your time and effort into following your dreams, but at the same time you don’t have the funds or the ways to really continue or maintain that and that’s kind of been my struggling balance through this whole process.
Kimmy: And sometimes people also make you feel stupid for dreaming that big. They always, it’s like the whole thing, “Only a few people make it so you’re not going to win that Academy Award. You’re not going to win that Tony, you should….” And so, there’s that too. It’s like other people around you sometimes. Not allowing you to dream.
Coach Jimmy: Right. And so, what I found is, with this ‘artistpreneur’ movement was just, “Okay, instead of playing the victim, instead of only having the side job…” when I was in New York City, the side jobs, that I…it was hustle to pass out flyers and it was do coffee demonstrations and all these other things, was, “Why not start something part-time that really allows you to grow and make some legitimate money?”
Cause I know when I started this, I didn’t think, “Oh, I’m going to be making thousands and thousands of dollars a week.” It was like, “Let’s do this little thing to try to help,” and I’m assuming – did you all feel the same way when we got started or when you guys got started?
Both: Yeah, absolutely.
Jess: I mean, it was, at the very beginning, I was like counting my pennies and now I feel I can breathe a little bit more I have a chance to really focus on what I need to focus on and I, I just love that flexibility. That’s really the biggest reward for me anyway.
Coach Jimmy: Yeah. Same?
Kimmy: Yeah. Totally agree. Again, not having to ask anyone to do anything. I can work on my own time wherever I want to work from. I’m in New York City right now for five weeks. I didn’t have to ask.
Coach Jimmy: You didn’t have to ask permission?
Kimmy: No. I just got to get on a plane and come here.
Coach Jimmy: What about, like the quality of your work?
So I know that I would walk into auditions ‘white-knuckling’ like, “I have to have this gig to pay the rent this month or to pay my cell phone bill or whatever,” and we all know the people on the other side of the table can just smell the desperation. I…I compare it to dating.
When you walk into the bar already with somebody, why it is that everybody loves you all of a sudden? But those times you had no date, nobody gave you any love or attention? So, I look at it this way. Now, well I have income coming in, because of income I’ve created part-time as an ‘artistpreneur’. Now I walk into this in these auditions going, “Hey, if I get it, great! If I don’t, I’m not going hungry tonight,” but my work is better. You all find that?
Kimmy: Oh, absolutely. And again, people always tell me, “Well, I’m taking the night shift or the grave yard shift so that I can have my days open for whatever,” then they go to their auditions completely exhausted and tired and I don’t have to do that anymore and that’s a cool feeling too.
Jess: And I think it’s also figuring out your priorities, like now I have my priorities straight. I know what I want and if I get it, great, and if I don’t, I just move on. I don’t have that extra burden to think about, “Oh, if I don’t get this, then I have this and this to worry about,” whereas I can just go, “No, this is my dream. This is what I’m going to pursue and it happens, great, and if it doesn’t, just keep moving forward.”
Coach Jimmy: What were your concerns before getting involved with this? Like apprehensions or…because again, I have a lot of my artist friends that I talk about, “Hey, let’s start you something part-time to do this,” and you would think they would all jump at it because they are always talking about how they are broke, but they don’t.
Jess: Honestly, it’s partly the structure of how it’s built. The fact that you are creating your own foundation. I know for me that I always succeed within a sort of formula and the fact that you are kind of creating that, can be really daunting for people.
Coach Jimmy: Which is funny because as an artist, you’re creating your own thing. While you’re hustling in the city doing your own thing in a creative, like, “How am I going to make my niche?” So you would think….
Jess: But also, at the same time, when you deal with money and on that level, I think it feels like, “Oh, I’m not really sure now if that’s something I wanna risk.” You know what I mean? And I feel like, like you’re already doing it with your career anyway, so why not give it a shot?
Coach Jimmy: And I hear stories that you were super-stubborn.
Kimmy: Oh, it took me over a year. I think it’s funny that I thought, “I can’t be a Coach because I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to do this kind of thing or whatever.” But it’s the same skillset as being an artist. If you have passion and you want something and you are driven, you can make anything happen. So I don’t know why I thought they were two separate things that I wasn’t trained enough or I didn’t know enough how to run a business. You know what I mean?
Coach Jimmy: And it doesn’t happen overnight and I look back, visiting here, that I guess I look back over the past five to seven years, which for some people that sounds like a long time, and it’s a blink of an eye because I still have friends that are still here in the city, still auditioning, doing the same thing that they were doing five years ago, not anymore security, still working jobs that they hate, and I’m like, “Well, why not at least give it a shot? Why not at least start something?”
Because I looked at it this way. It’s not going to get any worse and I really feel like you do have more extra time than you think you do. I think people think, “Oh, I don’t have the time,” when they don’t really know that with consistent effort, they can build something legitimate.
Kimmy: Oh, absolutely! It doesn’t take very much. I mean, stop watching an episode of your tv show right? Or whatever. There’s so much time! I hate that excuse.
Jess: You said this in a video the other day, it was about how…did you earn that reward to sit and watch the show? Did you earn that time? And I and I really took it to heart because it really put things into perspective because you’re right. I need to organize my time better to really pursue this and I think that was the key for me to move forward and going, “Okay, if I create my own schedule and build it and say, ‘This is my priority. If I do this, this, and this, then I can have the reward to do that,’ then I’m going to be moving much forward quickly,” and I think it got me more excited of like, “This is just my foundation of finally being born,” and that’s really, really exciting.
Coach Jimmy: The opportunity is there and I think that it’s never been easier to start something part-time. So, now I’m talking to you.
So if you’re an artist and you really are passionate about what you do, you’re a film-maker, you’re a musician, you’re a dancer, you’re a …whatever. You know what you wanna do and its finances are the fact that you…you feel like you’re trapped and you can’t get there, we would love to talk to you.
So just look at the information below this video and reach out and let’s chit chat because we would love to help you create something that lets you do your art more because your art is needed in the world and sometimes you just need a little funding and instead of waiting for the funding magic fairy to come out, you can create it yourself. So, for Jess and fro Kimmy, I’m Coach Jimmy. We’ll talk to you real soon. Take care.