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In this week's TFC, Chelsea sits down with Sam of the One Broke Actress podcast to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of making it as an actor in Hollywood when you don't come from wealth or connections.

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Hello, everyone, and welcome back to an all new episode of The Financial Confessions.

It is I, Chelsea Fagan, your host, founder, and CEO of The Financial Diet, and a woman who loves to talk about money. And if you're watching the video version of this podcast, you've probably noticed by now that I am not at the TFD set.

I'm not in our office. I'm not even in New York. I am, as is basically our annual pilgrimage at this point for filming and showing our faces with the clients out here in Los Angeles, I'm in LA.

I'm in Hollywood, actually, of all places. And one of the people that I most wanted to speak to when I came out to LA-- this is our first podcast that we're shooting in LA, so not only is it the first person we reached out to, it's the first person we have scheduled. We literally got in last night.

But it's someone who I think really typifies a version of the Los Angeles experience, and specifically, the creative professional experience that we very rarely see or heard talk about. I actually heard about her because a good friend of mine who is a working actress based in London is a big fan of her podcast, and talked about how much she is one of the only people who is in that space, who is a working actress, who is sort of, quote, "living the LA dream," but who's talking really, really candidly about the finances of it all and what actually happens behind the scenes. Because as you guys can probably imagine in such an image based industry, part of what is very important is projecting an image of success, even if that's not always the reality and is often just being propped up on things like credit card debt and rentals.

Not that we have a problem with rentals. I have a bunch of rented clothes up in my suitcase, but we'll talk about that later. Either way, I wanted to have someone to kick things off in LA to really speak about the truth behind the image of the LA experience.

And I don't think there's a better person to do it than my guest today, podcaster and content creator, and of course actress, Sam Valentine. Hi. Hi.

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No purchase or refi necessary. Void where prohibited. Went a little Midwestern on Valentine. [LAUGHS] I'm like the Target lady.

Did you do my research? Those are my people. That's where I'm from.

I know. Well, so, just to kick things off to sort of contextualize your work for the people who may not be familiar, can you talk a little bit about what you do as an actress, but also your podcast that brought you here. Absolutely.

So I've been an actress in LA for 11 years now. And partway through this journey, I moved here from the Midwest, I got a theater degree, and I was like, let me show them what I got. And I got here and no one wanted to see what I got. [LAUGHS] Many, many, many jobs, some of them acting, most of them not.

Later, I realized there was-- no one was talking about so many sides of this business. Like the cost it takes to continue, the amount of work, the ins and outs of the day to day life, that I can't call my parents and say, hey, this is a cool thing and let me explain to you why it's cool, and so much of the struggle. And so I decided I was going to start talking about it.

And if people chose to listen, cool. And if not, also cool, because I was kind of scared. So I created a platform called One Broke Actress, and it was-- I thought it was a funny name.

And 2 Broke Girls was cool at the time, and you know, it was a time. That was an era. That's a very specific era.

And now, obviously, it's grown to be quite a large community. Did you find that when you first started this podcast that it was more taboo to speak about the finances of the acting industry? For sure, absolutely.

I had people who told me perhaps don't do this. It's going to make you look like-- it's going to show sides of you that you should not be highlighting. It was really-- this was the era of perfect Instagrams and very polished and filtered.

And it was a time when everything was beautiful and lovely. And that was fine. But also, that was a solid 2% of the time.

And the other 98 we were all actors were just getting rooms and be like, hey, is it quiet for you? It's quiet for me. I'm not getting a lot of auditions.

How did you get your agent, because I can't find one? And I was like, why don't we say this out loud? Because there's so much of this that could be helpful to people.

And we all feel alone, because so much of this job is get an audition or you try to get an audition or an agent. Or you do get a job and you have your lines, and you practice them and you go to set and you do them, and then that's the end of your day. And there's the community that could come from that I feel like could have been so much greater.

So I was, like let's talk about it. Let's put the bad stuff on a platter with the good and say, here's all of it. Well, just so leaving the podcast aside, because that's sort of become its-- it's become its own business.

And I know that it's still quite separate from the actual acting work that you do because you are working actress first and foremost. Can you just give us a little bit of context as far as what it really means financially to be a working actor, like what an average income looks like? Is it a regular income?

Is it big spurts throughout the year? Like how does it actually work? And if you can share any kind of ballpark numbers, that's I think really helpful as well.

Yeah, so I teach a class called The Working Actor Workshop, and in it, it was the reason that I did a breakdown of it, because I wanted to showcase that there's this weird thing that we tell actors that you've really made it when you only make your living from acting. And that hurts me, because I don't know-- I don't think anyone's really doing that anymore. And so I broke it down.

And this is like-- it's hard to give a ballpark because you book so differently. It's all about the timing and the project and you and your readiness and all of these things. And so there's no-- there's no consistency.

Your only consistent income is your other jobs. Acting is just a shot in the dark. So for example, a costar, if you get a one-day co-star, which used to be five lines or less.

Now it could be way more than that. It's just how they classified in a contract. Pays about $1,200, $1,300 for the day.

And you get residuals on that, which are random $20, $30 checks that come in if it's a network show. But most jobs now are streaming. So you don't really see a lot coming back from that, if any.

Like Netflix, for example, has its own agreement. It's so confusing on the back end. So that's a costar.

And it can take three, four, or five months of auditioning in order to get that one job. So when you consider if you coach for an audition, which most actors do at this point, the average cost of a coaching is $100 an hour. So if you coached half an hour to an hour for five or ten auditions that you got before you got that audition, you're basically breaking even.

Wow. And that's to say nothing of your actual living expenses. No, no.

Nor the expenses of having your headshots done once every year or two, which can be $500 to $600, plus the cost of posting them on the sites, because it costs about $20 per photo to put it on the actor websites. Wow. So I mean, so you mentioned your agent.

So I also work with an agent for specifically book publishing. And I assume-- also, my agent is at an agency that does film and television as well. So I imagine it's probably a fairly similar structure where, for context, like I have done-- I've been with my agent for like 12 years.

We've done two books. I've never paid him out of pocket anything ever. But he and obviously the agency take a cut every time I sell a book on the advance and royalties.

Is that a pretty similar structure where you don't pay them upfront but you do pay them when you go? Correct. OK, got it.

Yeah, yeah. 10% is the going rate for most agents. Some agents will take 20% for actors who haven't joined the union yet, because they're not going to get any residuals off of that job. And then you also have a manager oftentimes on top of that.

So that's an additional 10. And do you pay the manager upfront? No, also only when you get paid.

What's the difference? It used to be a really easy line to follow, but now they're very similar. Oftentimes, actors have both.

And sometimes actors just have one. It used to be-- my favorite analogy for this is that you're a kid in school. Like the actor is the kid in school, right?

And you have your parents. And you have your teachers. And so your manager is like your parent.

And they're supposed to take care of your home base and hold your hand and help you with your homework. So a manager used to help you get the right headshots or advise on classes, or really proliferate your career over a long period of time. Whereas an agent is like a teacher.

They have one job and their job is to get you auditions. And oftentimes, parents and teachers would have meetings, you know? Or your parents would help you find the right teacher for the, thing so that oftentimes managers will help actors find agents.

But now, oftentimes managers are also getting auditions for their clients. So the line is very blurred. So it's a good thing, in a way, because now you have two people fighting for you to get auditions, which is what you need.

The more people in your corner, the better. But that also means that when you do get a job, you get even more money taken out. Right.

OK, yeah. I mean, it sounds like so you have the manager, the agent, people doing your headshots, your coaches. So even just to kind of get to a place where you can sort of even be in a position to get the role, just to get the audition, which is not a guarantee whatsoever that you're getting the role.

You've already got a lot of people who kind of have their hands out a little bit. Yes. And if you want to get a good paying job as a professional actor and have pension and health care and all of these things, you have to be part of the actors' union, which is an additional expense to just to join.

And then you have to pay yearly sum. And then you pay 1.575% of everything you make, up to $500,000 I believe is the cap. Don't fact check me on this, is back to the union for staff, for all of the things they provide.

And so we were talking before you sat down, or before the camera was on, about so you're obviously dressed quite well-- Thank you. --in a very, well, professional woman look. And you were mentioning that this is an outfit you're wearing specifically for an audition that is aligned with what you're wearing. You obviously are very well styled and all of those things.

That seems like an additional expense and concern on top of all of this, like having to dress the part for an audition. Oh, yeah. Yeah.

And you also can lean into a community on this, right? So I have my friend is a stylist, which is lovely and helpful and I send her pictures all the time. And I'm like, do we like these earrings?

Do we like these boots? And it's so-- that's building out that community of the people you meet in LA is-- in any city is incredible. But yeah, it's expensive to do things like hair and taking care of your nails and your face and having proper makeup and all of these things are not, unlike other jobs, they're not non-negotiables.

And I'm sure, listen, I know, especially as a female presenting person, oftentimes that is a non-negotiable. We just don't say it out loud. But for this job in particular, your makeup needs to look good on camera.

Your hair needs to look good on camera. There'll be jobs where they might fuss it up a little bit and you can play and that's really fun. But for the most part, you need to be able to be camera ready pretty much any time.

Now, emotionally, I got to be honest, the thing that is most just like I'm impressed and sort of blown away by is the capacity of a working actor by necessity to handle rejection and criticism. I feel like my friend that I mentioned who brought me to your podcast, she's a working actress. And she, I think, has been struggling more than anything with just being able to accept a level of unvarnished feedback and rejection that I think is just not normal for 99% of industries, especially as women age, as they become sort of less, I don't know what the word is, almost trendy, I want to say, like that there's a very-- I think it's very difficult for her and for actresses and actors in general to separate out the way they feel about themselves from the way people feel about them or the things that they say to them.

And resisting the pressure, for example, to change your appearance as a result, or to maybe adopt not super healthy eating habits as a result, and things like that. Again, not saying that that's her case, but that it's-- I feel, as a non-actor, as a layperson, that it would be so difficult for me to navigate that aspect of things in a healthy way. And I'm just kind of curious as to how you do.

Yeah. I am OK with talking totally open about this. But it's so hard to separate your validation of yourself from your validation of your career.

And that's true in everyone's job. But it's especially true in this job, because we are the business. So like your name is on the credits because your face, your body, your voice, your appearance created whatever the project is.

It took a hold of the role. Regardless of what the script was, the writers created the circumstances and the director put the pieces together and the editor and all these things, but it's your face and your body. So it is really hard to separate yourself.

Especially the rejection is like-- it's a whole other bag of worms. Because you don't-- I almost wish, I'm curious what it would be like if we did just get a phone call that was like, it's not you, every time. Because what we actually get is nothing.

Oh, no. That's not-- no, no, no, no, no. That I could not tolerate.

That would make me so much more upset. Yeah, it's really hard too. Because like I told you, you coach and you do these things and you put money and time into something.

And then you create what we have to tell ourselves is a beautiful piece of artwork, or else it feels useless, right? We have to-- we create-- now everything is self tape, almost, across the board, hands down. You get your audition and you tape it, oftentimes in whatever space of your house you have, or at a self-tape studio.

And you do all of the work to make it lovely. And a lot of times we're also doing all the tech now with lighting and making sure the sound is good and all these things. And then we turn it in and then, like I said, 98% of the time you don't hear anything back.

Now, it's really nice when you have-- I have a great team on my side and they watch my tapes. So at least my agents and managers get back to me and they're like, this was great, or we loved this moment. And that to me has to be enough.

But most of the time, the casting and all those things, they have so many things we're watching. There's so many pieces. And for TV, it rolls so quickly.

They don't have time to get back to us and call 100 actors and say, it's not you, but you're lovely. So it's just-- and you have to take it and keep moving, which I will say there is a gift in having a lot of auditions, is that you get one and then you're on to the next. And I've already forgotten about anything I did last week because it feels so long ago.

But that's not always the case. And you're not always auditioning that much. And so there is a-- letting go of something is really hard.

And then it's always good research as an actor to go see who booked the role you auditioned for. Oh, God. Which can be a minefield, right?

So what you said about body image and stuff is huge. And there's an old saying that actors don't book so they cut their hair, or they dye it. And there was a period of time where Emma-- Easy A.

Stone? Yes. Every girl in this town dyed her hair red because they were like, that was her in.

We had no hot redheads according to the media at that time. So like she was the in and everyone went for it. And now, and then everyone just had red hair, but they were the same person.

So they were like not even living in their own essence at that point. So it's really hard to decide what is data and evidence versus like what is mental trash. [LAUGHS] Yeah. And it's also like you can't put-- I mean, it's not like you're choosing the title on a video.

Like you're talking about a human being and a body. Like that to me is mind boggling. I will say, though, about the not hearing back.

So in books, it's a very different process, I think, because you're just submitting to so few people relatively. Like you do get no's. Like no one will just not-- I mean, in general, like no one will just not give you an answer one way or the other.

Do they give you a why? Well, here's the thing. So again, I've been working with my agent for over a decade.

And I've done several books. We got some proposals-- whatever, we got some stuff in the hopper. Suffice to say, I've gotten many, many, many rejections in my publishing career, and it's just completely par for the course.

Like you don't sell a book without having passes. So that's normal. But my agent is always very clear that I normally don't like forward the emails, because what the hell is the point of that?

If there's feedback I think is useful for you, I'll share that. But I'm not going to let-- and I'm like, and I was like no. Off the bat, I was like, I want the level of control.

I want to know everything. And so he sent me-- in the past, he sent me some actual. And I was like, I don't need to see this, actually.

Just kidding. Just kidding. You could've softened that.

And now I'm out there googling the person and feeling so angry because it's like you said. You see the person it went to. For me, it's like, what did they end up buying?

And it's so hard not to be like, well, should I have done that instead? And it's like, no, you should have done what you did. Yes, yes.

And can you imagine if you would have turned in your book proposal and they would have been like, no. And then they would have had-- if they got one book of that a year of exactly what you were doing. And then you could see that exact author and their exact-- and see what the similarities and the differences.

Oh my God. Well, luckily for me, most writers are not-- I mean, they're not super present online. I mean, some of them are.

Some of them, I think, now like especially depending on what genre of publishing you're in, you'll have some that are very visible. But some writers don't even write under their actual names. So it's slightly harder, I think, to obsess over individuals, which I think is probably for the best.

Yeah, that sounds great. [LAUGHS] Speaking of individuals, so one of the videos that we did recently, very recently that our audience really responded very strongly to was a video about the phenomenon of nepo babies. I absolutely watched that. Yeah!

Well, listen, I will tell you, when we were doing the research for that video, I was blown away by how many people are nepo babies that I didn't even know are nepo babies. It's wild, right? It's wild.

I literally watched-- OK, I watched a romcom the other day that I really enjoyed. It's a Netflix romcom called Set It Up. Oh, uh-huh.

Yes. So I really enjoyed it. OK, this is so gratuitous of me to say.

Never mind, I'm not going to say this. Suffice to say, so I watched this romcom that I really enjoyed, and then I was like googling the actors because I really like watching them. Turns out the female lead is the daughter of a very famous actress.

Now, does that mean that her performance wasn't fantastic? No, I really enjoyed it. I thought the movie was good.

But it's become increasingly rare, I've found, to watch a movie or a TV show and to not have at least one of the principle actors be either like the daughter of a very well-known Hollywood figure or the president of Goldman Sachs, basically. Which to me, is basically the same thing. And obviously, this does exist in other industries.

But I think Hollywood is probably the most pervasive. And we don't have hard data on it. It's kind of hard to pull.

But it does seem like it's become especially in things like fashion and especially in the age of streaming and things like that, where these are often shows that really rely on having those recognizable names, et cetera, that it's becoming a lot more prevalent. And I'm just curious how you feel about the phenomenon as a working actress. But also, how you avoid sort of, I mean, quite frankly becoming resentful, because I feel like I would be so angry all the time.

Yeah. Yeah. Well, that's hard.

It's hard. So I used to see people talk about the nepotism and all these things. And I would think, oh, whatever, they just have to be so good and then it doesn't matter.

Like as long as the actor is so good, no one cares. But the baseline now for just getting seen in this business is so high that you better be damn good, you know what I mean? Like it is so hard to get seen for more than a few lines.

And to be actually seen. Like casting watches your entire tape, the producers see it, the directors see it. Because that's not just how you get that one audition.

It's how you get your next audition, because people see you and maybe you weren't right for this role. But oh, let's bring in Sam Valentine. She also did this role.

And she did great on this audition. Let's see what she has to do with this. And that's how the game is played long term.

And so if that is the case and you had to be so good to get seen for a few lines, and if you're a nepotism kid, you better be so good. And I think that sometimes they do get a lot of attention for that. I think we hold them to a higher standard.

But I think if the average layperson saw the standard to which we are held for roles that even get cut out of shows, they would feel less for that. And there's nothing I can do about it, or there's nothing-- all I can do is just continue to do my work and be really good. And I have some friends who are involved in these families, who are related to these families.

And some of them have chosen to go the entirely opposite direction and never bring up the name and never lean on it and never mention it. And sometimes, I'm sad because I'm like, you're so good and you could get that boost and be even better. And I know that they would do good work with that.

And they would do good things. And my thing is just say it. Just say, I had a leg up, because I did this.

Thank you. Just agree to it. And while you're agreeing to it, look around and look at the people who could use a leg up.

And if you are the number one on the call sheet, so like you're the top actor on a show and you came from a family and you had a lot and you meet actors who are struggling to get by and are also incredible at what they do, if you have an opportunity to give someone a leg up, give them a leg up. Right. And I mean, I think that being honest about it thing has become-- it's a very complicated issue I think not just in Hollywood but in a lot of professional industries where obviously we-- even quote unquote "everyday people" for the most part are not exempt from having to have public personas.

Whether that's your LinkedIn page or your basic social media, which will often be a component of hiring decisions and networking and all of these things. Like we're forced to live in a way that is a lot more visible than it's ever been, especially obviously for people whose entire profession is about being a public figure. But because of the sort of social media component, I think there's this incredible emphasis that is being placed on relatability, which was never, I think, a pressure before.

I think if you look at like old Hollywood, for example, those people were like treated like Greek gods. Like it was like the entire concept was they're nothing like us. Like it even was I think in the early 2000s, late '90s, whatever, there was that whole like they're just like us phenomenon, which was at the time regarded as surprising.

Yes, I can see the magazine spread now. They also walk their dogs. They also drink water.

Who would have thought? Also, let's be clear. Tom Cruise, he's not just like me.

No. [LAUGHS] Even Emma Stone, not just like me, I could venture to guess. But I do think that this emphasis on relatability-- and I think it also becomes a class issue as well, because pretending that you didn't have an easier time because your parents are famous. Like obviously, that's not true.

That's demonstrably not true. And you say, and you pretending like it's not the case doesn't benefit anyone. If anything, it's like I was saying in my video, it's a little bit like stop gaslighting us.

Obviously, we know you got the job in small part, at least, because of this. But on a class front, and again, to take it back to the struggle of someone who's not really getting by in this industry. Like to have people who come into an industry with so much wealth, leaving aside the parent like being an actor director, just to come in with such socioeconomic stability is a level of privilege that to deny it and to pretend that it doesn't exist, I think actively makes it harder for people who are financially struggling and who do depend on the job.

Absolutely. And I think of myself sometimes. And it's taken me 11 years to get where I am now.

And it is nowhere near where I planned to go or where I thought I would be in at this point in my career. And that's OK. But even myself, like at the base level, my parents paid for my college.

And I make a big deal of saying that to actors I meet, especially actors who are from like non-classically privileged people. So anybody who is not white, middle class or above, or cisgender, or any of the things that I have tons of privilege with. Like I have to acknowledge it, because I don't want anyone to look at me and say like, well, she just moved to LA and made it happen.

I moved to LA without college debt. And I don't think that I could have even done this if I would have had 40, 50, $60,000 on my back. Because it is so expensive to just get groceries here that I cannot fathom the debt on top of that all.

And a lot of times in this business, you are told that if you won't invest in this class product-- you name it, just all the sales things-- then are you really committed to your art? Are you really committed? And I hate that so much, because it takes so much work just to start to break even on this business, let alone for it to pay you back.

And so like for example, the Sydney Sweeney thing, she got in a bunch of hot water recently because she was like, I can't afford to take a break. But she's not a nepo baby and she did come from-- her family moved here and brought her up, from what I read about her. And I get it.

Because she's also on shows that she might have a hefty contract. But most of-- I don't know what HBO's residuals schedule is. I don't know what that looks like.

I don't know what the streaming residuals are like for that. And it might not be a ton. And so when you take out, like we talked about, the agents and all those things.

And there was just a Hollywood-- I think it was a Hollywood Reporter article that came out yesterday about the cost of being a star, that was about you also have to pay a lawyer and an accountant and an assistant, and you have to pay to be styled. And we think that everything is just given to us for free, and it's not. And so that also comes into play.

And I think-- I forgot where I came to this topic, but I just think the acknowledgment of it is, to me is beautiful. So it just ixnays one more comparison we can take off of people's radar. Right.

Because if you're the person who is in student debt, who's living on credit cards, who's basically 80% to 100% of their income is coming from non-acting jobs, and you're on social media, or you're following some of these other people who are booking jobs, the math isn't mathing. If they're not being honest, it's very easy to get into a spiral of thinking, well, what is wrong with me? Oh, 100%.

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You mentioned the cost of being a star. You know, you mentioned all these people have to hire. And this is assuming none of those people are ripping you off, which often happens.

We hear a lot of stories, again, as laypeople about these massive celebrities who on paper should have endless amounts of wealth who go bankrupt. And I would love your opinion on the mechanics of that in Hollywood specifically. You know, obviously, I think part of it is definitely just having so many people to pay.

But I also think when it comes to the work that they're doing, the shows, even the ads, all of that stuff, that they may not even be paying as much as we would assume that they're paying. Do you mean in terms of branding deals and things like that or-- Or even the shows themselves. Like I think most people assume like if you have a reasonably popular show or movie or what have you that maybe you're not on the poster, but you're a regular cast member, that you're automatically making millions of dollars.

Yeah. Oh, I wish that was true. I really do.

Well, when you sign up for a show, when you go in to test for a show, for example, which means you're one of the top picks. They're going to have you do the audition in front of all of the executives and all the important people. By the way, I haven't even gone in for a network test yet.

So this is just me speaking from other people's stories, is that you sign a contract that says, I will agree for this many years to get paid this much. So even actors who have a show that after one season is just so popular, gangbusters, unless they have a shark of a team that gets the entire production to renegotiate contracts, you're getting paid the same amount. And you'll see it now too where a show will be shooting and they'll renew it for the next season while they're still shooting continually, finishing the season they're at.

And there's budgetary reasons for that. Because they want to get it done and they're already there. So like let's keep everyone working.

And there was actually a big thing recently beyond just actors of the unions-- oh, my god, I'm going to forget it-- the below-the-line union. So everyone who's working on sets and hair and makeup and lighting and the camera crew and all that stuff, they had a big reckoning, asking for higher pay and better hours because when you're on set, you're working 12-hour days as an actor, let alone the crew who sets up before you get there and picks up after you leave. So they're working 16-hour days.

And there's these horrible stories about women who are on these production crews taking UTI medication in advance when they get a new job so that they can get through that job because they don't even have time to use the bathroom. Oh, my god. That is horrifying.

Continue. No, it's terrifying. And that's how long you're on a set for.

So that is like-- that in and of itself is its own issue. But everyone is trying to create more faster and cheaper. And if they're trying to do that, then everyone's going to make less money.

And I think the idea that just because something looks successful is not necessarily equaling a bigger paycheck. And this is why you see actors doing all the other things. Doing collaborations on social media and brand deals and things like that, because that is more guaranteed money for their income.

And when you do scary things like sign a mortgage, which is a crazy thing to do as a glorified gig worker, which is what we are, jumping from job to job, you have to continue to pay that bill even when this project stops paying. So you have to find the money somewhere. And I think we see that rampant.

And I tell actors all the time, especially new actors come to me and they're like, I just want to only make money from acting. And I'm like, you guys, no one's doing that. And the people who see only acting also own property.

Totally. Yeah. Or they also have hefty bank accounts that are turning over money with a high interest rate.

Like they have other ways of making their money and I promise you it's not all coming from sets. So we have to hedge our bets and build our financial bottoms so that we can have a foundation to work on in this gig work. Yeah.

And you know, obviously I'm definitely myself more familiar with it on the writing side. But I do know quite a lot of people who write in film and television. And I know even in the small pool that I know personally, I've known multiple situations where someone will get staffed on a TV show, for example, and they might make a half a million dollars in that calendar year, and then they base a lifestyle on that amount of money.

And you can maybe-- you can get a lease. You can get a mortgage, even. You can do all of these things with the presumption that this is your new income.

And I have known multiple people who've had to move, who've had to sell off cars, who've had to get rid of belongings, who've had to move back in with their parents because they were sort of, even in the best instance, which is that you're getting this incredibly lucrative job on a set, that still could easily just be gone the next calendar year. Oh, 100%. And we see it on all playing fields, right?

We see it in sports players all of the time, for example too. But especially as a working actor who's in the lower ranks, there is so few guarantees. And it's magical, because it could change tomorrow, right?

Like one of the auditions I have later today could change my whole game. You just never know what's going to take off. But also, it could change tomorrow because none of them could work.

Or nothing could work for a long time. And so building a lifestyle around this income is not something I've really come to terms with yet, because I won't do it. Like for example, if I lived-- so I grew up in the Midwest.

And if I was still in the Midwest and I looked at my husband and I's take home pay collectively, I would be like, oh, you guys are doing good. Like oh, that's great. But then living in this expensive city and day to day, we haven't even purchased property yet.

We haven't even bought-- we're considering buying a condo at some point. And we are waiting until we amass a down payment that's big enough to make our mortgage similar to our rent. Because we don't want to change our lifestyle.

We don't want to be house poor. And you see it all the time. And then you have to double down to prove to people that you're not house poor.

And then you see like all of the showcasing of temporary wealth, which is hard to watch, because you can tell it's fake sometimes. But it still it still messes with your brain. Like oh, they got so far with that money.

What did they do? How did they get that? Well, totally, and also, I mean, in such an image driven industry, in such an image driven city, the incentives to appear wealthier and more successful than you are are not just really strong.

In some cases, they can actually be beneficial. Like it is true in some cases that-- and there is sociological data on this for pretty much all industries, but especially in an industry like this, like if you walk into the room sort of looking like you don't need things, people are going to be more likely to take you seriously, to give you these things. And so there can be a benefit to it.

But the sort of diminishing returns between, OK, like let's say, like you for your audition today, you want to go in looking put together and professional and well groomed and all of that stuff. But would it necessarily be more helpful if everything head to toe you were wearing was designer? Probably not.

But I think it would be very easy for people to convince themselves that it is, especially if you have other people around you doing it. Oh, absolutely. Because then you look for people to be your mentor, someone to tell you better.

And they're like, well, no-- what is that saying? Dress for the job you want. And it's like, I would prefer to be paid to be on sweatpants on my couch, but-- [LAUGHS] I want to be one of those TikTok stay-at-home girlfriends that's in lounge-wear all day.

I just started seeing this. I love those girls. But I'm like, girl, what happens-- he's going to leave.

You have no protection. He can throw your ass on the street tomorrow. Trap him in a marriage.

Have a secret kid. Think this through, girls. Oh my god, I get so angry,.

God. We're going to get a pivot soon. No, but in all seriousness.

Like that is something-- and even in LA, like living in New York it's very interesting, because there is a lot of that same dynamic, for sure, and lifestyle inflation is very real, cost of living is extremely high. But one of the interesting dynamics in New York is that you can be living an outwardly flashy lifestyle and living in a studio apartment and nobody knows. Whereas in Los Angeles, everything is out there.

Everything shows in a way-- like the car you pull up in, what your property looks like from the street. So there's very little kind of protection from what is visible to others. Yeah, especially when your job is your face, right?

Oh, my gosh. Even this square matters. Like, I put together this outfit last night because I'm going to be-- we're on camera right now, and it matters.

And this is a piece of media. And let alone, I mean, don't get me started on paying PR people. That, in and of itself, is thousands and thousands of dollars per month.

That [INAUDIBLE] a lot I've thought about. $3,000 to $8,000, I think, is the going rate for PR. OK, listen, girlies and "guyies." I know there some that work in PR. Listen, PR people have their roles.

But a lot of them are really committing highway robbery, I will say that much. Because for the amount I've seen PR firms charge and the amount of actual media that they get for people, like I'm like talk about math not mathing. But I do think what you were saying earlier, and I think part of this is something, again, that filters down to almost all industries, when you can convince yourself that every little bit helps, and when you can convince yourself that the difference between you and the job or the life that you want is like maybe just having one more coach or slightly better pictures or a slightly better social media profile-- Or 10 less pounds.

Or 10 fewer pounds, or a PR team, or any of these things, then there's really no limit to what you can't justify spending on. And there's no limit to what you can beat yourself up about for not having done. Yes.

Yes. Which by the way, our taxes are wild. Talk about the taxes.

I mean, I probably shouldn't, because it is-- it's hard to pin down what is exactly a write off, which a tax person is probably watching this and being like, actually, I could tell you [? that. ?] Right. But you kind of have to get someone on your tax team who's like willing to take a cut or two in a different direction, because we I have to pay x amount of money to get my hair done. Like $400, $500 per time I get it done.

Girl, what? I know. It's so expensive.

Oh, my gosh. Because I dye it, and it's a whole thing. And I do it two to three times a year, max.

But that is a part of my package. And you're not going to tell me that that's not a tax write-off because that's-- but technically speaking, you should have paperwork from a job that tells you you needed that. But [INAUDIBLE],, you're never going to get that.

No. Unless it's a specific job, like an Emma Stone type thing, where they're like, well, she has to go back to a redhead for this particular job. And then they would probably have a person who did it for you.

Yeah. Wow. I mean, that's very easy to get into tax fraud territory I feel like.

Yes. Even unintentionally. Truly.

Totally. And there's a lot of back and forth about whether actors should S Corp or LLC in order to get the proper write offs, because when the tax laws changed in 2017, we were no longer-- there's some nuance to this, but we were no longer supposed to write off the money that we paid out to our agents and managers. So we were writing it on from the net of something instead of the gross.

And so it got a little complicated. Because let's say it's standard math, you have a $1,000 job. You pay $200 to-- $100 to an agent, $100 to a manager.

You're still paying taxes on that $1,000 even though you only made 800? Like what? Yeah, that's not fair.

That's terrible. Yeah. Well, so one of the things that I kind of most wanted to get your opinion on is something that it's a phenomenon that I think New York has felt acutely in this industry, because the vast majority-- I mean, not the vast majority.

There is film and TV production all the time there. But stage acting is such a huge part of the acting ecosystem in New York City, probably more than any other city. And obviously, that was massively impacted by the pandemic in a way that even film and TV wasn't necessarily.

So even I personally know multiple people who left the industry, left the city completely, just were like, I can't do this. Interestingly, a lot of them became real estate brokers. I don't know what the connection there is.

But I guess-- I mean, it makes sort of sense. Like you're very good with people. You're outgoing.

You're charismatic. Like you can-- There's a performance aspect to that. Totally.

Plus I mean, I feel like successful real estate brokers are usually pretty attractive. So there's a whole Selling Sunset energy maybe. But all of that is to say, like I know-- I mean, I can't even imagine the emotional toll that a decision like that takes, especially if, like many of these people, you grew up your whole life feeling that this was your artistic calling and your chosen profession and all of these things.

And to really make what is above all I think for most a financial decision of this is just not realistic for me, this is now coming into conflict with my goals as an adult. And as just someone who wants to be able to build a future that contains more than this can offer me. And I think that this is a fork in the road that many, many, many creatives come to.

I'm just curious on your thoughts as to when it might be healthy, to make that decision, if you've thought about it, and how you've seen other people navigate through it in a way that could maybe be slightly more positive? Yeah. To any actor who had to make that choice during the pandemic, that I just-- it breaks me.

It makes me so sad. Because that's so many peoples whose performances you're never going to see. It's like so many actors, so many artists who you might not-- they could come back.

Like there's no reason that they can't come back. They will be making up for lost time. So it'd be a little bit of a struggle.

But it hurts-- it hurts me so bad, because I just know that that's so much of people we don't get. Because if you think of the people love to watch on screen, imagine the half of them never, never had the time, energy, and money, to borrow a saying from a woman named Audrey, who has a podcast named Audrey Helps Actors, who's very helpful. And that's the thing.

You have to have ample of all of those things to pursue this. And especially people who have families, or who wanted a family, or who wanted a home life, it's hard to convince yourself you can do both. I strongly believe you can do both.

In fact, most women I know especially who've chosen to have kids come back to this industry with so much power, and their performances are so different and more intense. But that being said, with COVID, we lost a lot of good actors. And I don't know if there's a way to soothe that.

I think every actor I know questions whether or not this is their thing. Like typically, like probably at least once a month. Oh my gosh. [LAUGHTER] Because when you look at it, it's like buying lottery tickets is not a good financial choice, you know?

Sure. And we're trying to win the lottery here constantly. And there are ways we can hedge our bets and put things in the right direction.

But it's luck a lot of times. You prepare and then you get lucky. And so for the actors who in the COVID times were like, I can't do this anymore, I get it.

I think there's also a weird stigma around quitting. Like oh, they tried to be an actor. No, they were an actor and they are an actor.

They just might not be doing it on popular media that you will see every day. And so I think that's an important thing to say. And yeah, people think about quitting all the time.

I think about it. Like the thought crosses my mind. I'm like is today-- and I'm like, no, not today.

Not today. Just one more day and let's see what happens. And it's hard.

It's hard to convince yourself that this is something you want to keep doing. But then on the days when it goes right, you're like, oh, I've never wanted anything more. This is the best job in the world.

But you have to find a way to carry that feeling to the days when it doesn't. Which is really difficult. Although I will say something that I've been really trying to get into the past year especially has been doing creative things completely without the financial or professional sort of piece attached.

Because-- Like a hobby. Like a hobby. Now, listen.

I love a hobby. I have many hobbies. But rarely have they ever been-- like I recently wrote for pleasure on a project just for fun, and I hadn't done that in six years, which is bleak.

And that was my profession-- that is my profession in a lot of ways. That's the background I come from. But it had been so, so long that it was like I did it because it was my job to do it.

There was some aspect of it. And let's be honest, like I'm sure it's probably similar for acting. But for writing, if you're making your living as a professional writer and you're not like literally Stephen King, chances are a huge amount of the writing that you're doing for your actual income it ain't the great American novel.

I mean, like you're writing-- you're writing like copy for refrigerators and [BLEEP].. You're not doing the kind of writing that maybe you dreamed of or that really fulfills you in a way. And don't get me wrong.

Being financially stable is so wonderful and gives you that space and freedom to be able to do the things that you like. But I do feel like it's rare when people do something creative as their profession that they really allow themselves, or in some cases, even force themselves to do these things that they love just for the enjoyment of doing them and for pure creative and editorial expression. And so I do feel like I genuinely hope that I work in an industry one day that is not media, in part because I think that it would allow me to do that thing that I love in a way that's just much more purely enjoyable.

Yeah. It comes down to time, a lot of the time, right? Totally.

Because we only have so much to give. And when you've, especially when you do things like content and things like that, there's always something you can be doing, right? There's always a TikTok or there's always an Instagram or there's always a comment or a DM or emails.

God, emails. There's always something you can do. And it's hard to put boundaries on that.

It's something I'm also working on. But that is also like it's nice. And then also sometimes I'm like, should I go do a play?

You should do a play, girl. I should do a play. I know.

It's so-- I'm not invested in the LA theater scene. So there is theater in LA, contrary to popular belief. Oh, I know.

And some of it's really good. But I haven't had-- but it takes time. It takes a lot of time.

And Monday through Friday rehearsals and performance nights. And that would be days that I would need to commit to that and not be available for auditions, and also take the time off of doing the content I do. I also run another business for the podcasting.

So to be able to do all of those things and then also see my husband, walk my dogs, and being an actor. Like I work out a lot and all of these things. It's really hard to find the time to check that creative box and not put any ramifications on it.

So I'm impressed that you've made the push to do this. Well, thank you. Do you have any tips?

I have a four day workweek. So I feel like this is so unfair to compare, because I have-- I'm just like a salaried employee of my company. So I get a paycheck every two weeks.

And I only work four days a week. And I don't have kids. I don't want kids.

So I'm like-- I actually have a ludicrous amount of free time. I'm taking notes. Yeah, I mean, I think something that I really would encourage everyone to do who works for themselves in any capacity is really call into question every single thing that you do for work that you consider as additive to your work.

Like force yourself to work on a reduced schedule just for a week or a month and see what it does. Because we found, and this is very common with four day workweeks, like productivity increased, revenue increased. Because the thing is that a lot of the sort of auxiliary elements of work-- emails, meetings, phone calls, researching things-- like a lot of those things are either extraneous, could be done in a much shorter amount of time, or are just you kind of convincing yourself you're working but you're really just like dicking around on the internet.

For sure. Or whatever the case may be. And so giving yourself a very limited window in which to actually get productive work done forces you to decide, A, what is actually high value in what you're doing and what's actually additive.

But also, B, I think gives your brain just a lot more energy in the times that you are working, a lot more capacity to think creatively, and to kind of go outside of your normal habits with work and all of those things, because you know you have such limited time, and because you know you're going to get a good break after. So I really encourage-- I don't think that need to be in a salaried job to advocate for a four day workweek. In fact, if you're freelance in any capacity, you can impose that on yourself and see what changes.

And one thing to keep in mind is like obviously your audition schedules can fall outside of that. But we sometimes have things-- like we're doing-- like I have some work I'm doing on Friday, so we just really call it the 32 hour workweek. So sometimes, it doesn't fall in the same four days every week.

But I do think a lot of people who work more quote unquote like "white collar" or jobs that are not very-- obviously, if you're working in a hospital, you're probably not doing a ton of extraneous work that could be cut out. Yeah. But if at least part of your job is just you sitting at a computer doing stuff on email or whatever, chances are you're probably dedicating more hours to work that are either unnecessary or where you're not really working at all.

Mm-hmm. That's great advice. Because also like so many actors, we have so many jobs, you know?

Right. Like the actors you see on TV every day, like they probably have-- they have various streams of income, like I like to talk about. But those of us who are actively auditioning in constantly in this lower level working phase, who are leveling up, like I said, I own technically two companies and I have my acting career.

And so to figure that out in terms of giving yourself time to rest your brain. Like that was-- you said that and I was like, oh, that sounds so lovely and important because we're just a mile a minute. And with acting stuff too, like the past two or three weekends, on Friday nights I've gotten auditions.

Which means I have the weekend to work on it and I have to have it on tape by Monday morning. So it does turn into the work stretches into the weekend. But I love the idea of then is there a way that I could take Monday off?

And I'm it. I'm CEO of both these businesses. So like I'm in charge.

Take Monday off. I think there's a world in that. You totally should.

So as a last kind of question, so you mentioned earlier about women who took time off to have children and then came back to acting. Do you have children, out of curiosity? I do not, no.

I'd love to hear to whatever extent you're willing to speak about it, and feel free to pass me and cut this. But have you thought about motherhood through the prism of its impact on your career slash do you feel that women in Hollywood have a lot of really-- have a lot of pressure in regards to not only whether or not to have children but the way in which they have them? For sure.

And this is all speaking from someone who doesn't have kids and isn't interested in having children. So that's-- Another child-free queen in my midst? Hello.

Who would've thought? That's me. And so that's my caveat, is that I know people really want to have kids and can't, and there's so many circumstances.

So I just want to give that some love. But for me, I watch my friends who have kids and they struggle with the idea of doing it because it does-- there is a period of time in which, like there's a point in your pregnancy where you can't hide being pregnant anymore. And you have to either book those roles, or you have to decide to take a step away from the business and have baby and then to have your time as a new mom and all of that stuff, and then decide-- your priorities shift.

That's what I'm watching in all of my friends is their priorities are so different. So which is cool, because they're not taking some of the [BLEEP] anymore. They're really like, no, I'm not doing that.

Yes, I want to do this. Like their decision maker like churns now. Which is really fun to watch.

And once again, I'm taking notes, because it's something we think we should all do. But also, just as a woman, once again, as your body is your business in this business, there's this weird thing in all media where we want women, like we require of women to be mothers. Like how many articles that we had about Jennifer Aniston choosing not to have kids.

Like so many, I'm so bored of them. And then also when people do get pregnant, we're instantly like, and she whipped back into shape, here's how. So it's like we want them to be moms and to showcase their mom-hood, but we also want them to be like little hot sex on a stick and also come back.

Who looks like they've never had a child. Yes, and who functions and like, can she keep up her crazy schedule when she comes back from having kids? And it's like, probably not.

Her life is totally different. So why? It's a weird catch-22 I feel like we put women in in this business to like, everyone should want to have a baby.

And then once you have a baby, you better be willing to work. And it's like why and whose business is this? And can we just let them live?

It's one of my favorite things when I'm looking up an actress and I find out, oh, wow, she has two kids. And it's nice that it's not their center-- it's nice that it's not the only thing we hear about that person. Right.

That they still get to-- I mean, it is a very-- there's a really interesting-- there was an article that went around a couple of days ago that I didn't like-- I didn't super agree with it because it was like, why is Taylor Swift still perceived as a young girl when she's in her 30s and a lot of other women who are similar aged pop stars with like similar trajectories are maybe not? The difference is because she doesn't have kids. I don't think that's totally fair in the case of Taylor Swift, because I do think her branding and marketing is very much in-- it's just very much geared toward young women.

It is a very young woman's brand, which is totally fine. I like a lot of her music. But I think there is an interesting kind of piece in that, which is that-- and I do think there are other-- Ina Garten doesn't have kids.

Is she perceived as a little girl? Right. Methinks not.

But I do think that there is something very true, which is that, as you mentioned, often when women become mothers as a public figure, they're expected I think in a lot of ways to make that the defining element of their identity and how they're presented and the kind of roles that they take and the first question they're asked in all of those things. Yet at the same time, we want that perfect post-baby bod. We want there to be-- we want you to still be very young and sexy and desirable and all of these things.

And I do wonder sometimes if part of that is the social media aspect again making this even more intense. Because now when public figures-- public figures like we want access to their family. We want to see their kids.

We want to see their husband. We want to see their vacation. And I think that probably is part of what makes the identity struggle even more intense, because if the woman's kids are never visible and she's someone who wants to maybe keep them more private, then it's like why are you hiding them.

Are you not proud of being a mom? Are you not-- like is that not a big part of your identity? But I'm curious whether or not you have children with the sort of personal life and relatability and availability being such a big factor of your marketability and such a big factor of what people want from public figures, how do you decide what parts of your identity, mother or not, you make available versus you keep private?

Yeah. I think all-- artistry is a weird thing, because for acting, especially, we want-- and for music artists and things, we want them to be the best of their abilities. But we also have this voyeurist-- like, let's see behind the curtain.

What's your living room look like? And I get it. I watch the Kardashians.

I enjoy it. But also, we wouldn't-- can you imagine artists in the 1800s being like and this is my kitchen. No one would have cared.

Like, Thomas Edison being like, welcome to my studio. My crib, yes, [INAUDIBLE]. Or taking selfies, it's just a weird dichotomy that we put actors in of like we want to see-- or anyone on media these days is like, let's see the behind the scenes.

Let's see what you don't want to show us. And people say things like, oh, well so-and-so doesn't have social media. I'm like, right, but they came up before they had to have social media.

So now they don't have to have it. And for example, I feel as though I do. I do have social media.

And I've made the choice that because of the One Broke Actress platform, I invite people to see my day to day life, to see that, yes, I'm auditioning for things that have big names in them, but I also live in this apartment, and the lighting is not great all the time. And I have dogs and they are messy. And I always have dog hair on my clothes and I make videos.

And here's my husband. He's also a personal trainer and a writer. Like we're not-- I've made the choice to showcase that.

And it was an active choice of what is mine versus what is ours to look at. And I do things like I don't like to get on social media on the weekends and things like that to delineate that side of my life. And I just cannot become the person who's like taking videos every time my friends and I go to dinner, because those are like my moments.

And it just, it's not me. And I think figuring that out for yourself is something every artist has to do, is like what do you want to share versus what do you want to keep as your own. And figuring out a way of doing that so that people of let you live, right?

Right. It's a hard one. And on your own terms.

For sure. So it has been an absolute pleasure. And for those who want to learn more about you or follow your amazing podcast, where should they go?

Yeah. So everything is One Broke Actress. It's

I have a One Broke Actress YouTube I just started. Hey. [CLAPPING] Welcome. The podcast is the One Broke Actress podcast.

Instagram, TikTok. It's literally everywhere but LinkedIn. [BLEEP] LinkedIn. That's my take.

Listen, if you're a creative, isn't the one benefit you don't really have to care about LinkedIn? I do not have-- I don't even think I have a LinkedIn. Hell, yeah.

That place-- I mean, listen, there's some good that happens on LinkedIn. TFD posts on LinkedIn about our four day workweek stuff. But nothing makes me despair for humanity more than the post that will go viral on LinkedIn from men.

You can go viral on LinkedIn? Oh, yeah. It's like nothing but men-- CEO, solopreneurs, whatever, who talk about waking up at 4:00 AM and taking a nice cold shower and-- I'm sad.

Yeah, just how to optimize life by draining every single bit of pleasure and spontaneity out of it, I think, is their general-- that's what does numbers on LinkedIn. Isn't that what Twitter is for? Listen, don't come for my Twitter.

I love Twitter. Twitter's about silly jokes. Someone referred to it as the smoking section of social media, and that's what I feel it is.

Oh, I like that. A lot of [BLEEP] posting happening on Twitter. Anyway, thank you so much, Sam, for being here.

Thank you. And thank you, guys, for tuning in. And we will see you next week on an all new episode of The Financial Confessions.