How many times have you seen a role listed that really looked promising, only to see one of the following phrases, “deferred”, “big opportunity”, “food and credit”, “student film”, “spec”, etc. Those phrases all translate to… “no pay”.
In my beginning as an actor, I worked several gigs for no financial reward, however, I learned that I did, indeed, receive compensation for my efforts…compensation that may not have been financial, but worth more than just money.
In acting class, you learn through scene study and working with another actor. You pay the coach quite a bit of money for this. In a non-paid gig, you learn the same thing, and have more opportunity to practice. In short, you are getting an acting class for free!
Another reason is that new actors usually need to show some experience in addition to their training. Working a student film or other non-paid gig allows the new actor to add it to their resumé which makes them more appealing to a talent agent.
One of the biggest reasons I had for doing non-paid gigs was the contacts I was able to make in the industry which helped me in future projects.
I no longer accept non-paid work, but I am thankful for the opportunities I had in the past that allowed me to be where I am today in my craft.