Finding work as an actor has a comparable level of uncertainty to the British weather.  Thousands of highly talented actors and actresses in the UK have a little secret to share with you. Their answer to dealing with ‘rainy days’ is to fill them by supporting kids in schools.

Meet the lovely Michael Parr. Mike is an LSA (Learning Support Assistant) by day, and a trained actor by night.   Find out the reasons why Mike has chosen to work in schools helping children with learning difficulties below.

M PARR

Being an actor is tough; besides all the waiting and rejection, you face the unavoidable fact that the unemployment rate stands at 99%. Those in the early phase of their career are likely to be working on the fringe circuit where you’ll be lucky if you even get your transport paid for.

When I first graduated with my acting degree, I was struggling to pay my rent and knew I needed a job that was flexible enough that if an audition came up I could make it.

I was introduced to Smart Teachers by a friend. I had an interview, was CRB checked and was in a new job after just two weeks.  Prior to this I was working in a bar getting £55 a shift to serve drunk city slickers and was becoming a bit sick and tired of the same mundane routine.

I’m now working in the SEN (Special Educational Needs) department of a sixth form, where everyday something new happens and the pay cheque is much more attractive. Most of my fellow teaching assistants at the school are actors and we have become good friends over time – great for entertaining nights out and decent banter round the work place.

For the first two years after graduating I worked solely on profit share shows where we’d be lucky if we made £100 each for three weeks’ work. Living in London on that kind of money is impossible so I would work through Smart in the daytime and go and perform in the evening.

When it came to auditions and job opportunities Smart understood. If I needed two weeks off to rehearse I would let them know and they would replace me.  As soon as I was finished they would find me new work immediately.

Recently I’ve been getting my face in the odd episode of shows including Hollyoaks, Doctors, and Casualty (all the rites of passage for an actor).  Due to their nature these jobs only last a few days and can be spread out with a few months gap in between.  It’s not enough to afford the rent in Camden so I like to book a few days off for filming every now and again and save my acting money for a rainy day, my showreel, headshots, new clothes, pints, products….

Being an actor isn’t easy and it isn’t cheap so you’re going to need a flexible job that understands your schedule. Smart Teachers tick all the boxes.

Michael Parr
Learning Support Assistant, Smart Teachers
2009 – present

Check out Michael’s showreel here and follow him on Twitter

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