Photo Source: Ali McGhee
Welcome to another weekly edition of Side Hustle Spotlight where I interview actors and filmmakers at different levels of their career who have used their other passions to capitalize on a fulfilling side hustle. These folks no longer or have never had to do serving work that drained their energy and made them miserable. Be sure to check out the original article for inspiration on discovering your side hustle.
This week’s actor proves that you can be qualified for that stable full-time job with your current range of talents, common sense, and a good attitude.
Name: Ali McGhee
Side hustle: Office manager (full-time)
Years filmmaking: Two years filmmaking, six years acting and improvising
Favorite filmmaking credits/opportunities: Writing, producing, and acting in a slew of videos. A couple favorites? “Joint” and “Dads are Hot.” I also love acting monthly in the New York sketch collective BoogieManja.
What do you do when a shoot comes up?
I produce a lot of my own work so fortunately, I can schedule to my availability. I always have the weekends available and I almost always leave work right at 5:30 pm, so the weeknights are fully available to shoot as well. I find that most of my friends have a similar schedule to mine so when I’m asked to work on their projects, it’s also within that time frame.
But since that’s not always the case, I use my vacation very wisely throughout the year for situations where a shoot or a rehearsal can’t fit my regular schedule. In the case of auditions, like anyone would step out for a cup of coffee, I’ll step out for an audition. It does not hurt that my office is centrally located to a lot of audition studios.
Have you ever felt like your side hustle was in jeopardy because of filmmaking? How long did it take you to feel like you had security at this side hustle, even if you took time off for a project?
So much! When I was hired, I had just come off unemployment. I had been an office manager at a startup and was laid off for budget reasons and then was a temporary office manager covering someone on maternity leave. There wasn’t a lot of consistency in my life at the time but it was a huge kick in the ass for me to hustle my passion for acting and writing.
While this was great, I needed a steady 9-5 to keep me sane and financially afloat. It wasn’t new to me but it was a huge readjustment coming back from my funemployment. I felt secure right away because I worked my ass off but I felt actually good at my job probably a year in.
What skills or talents did you need for this side hustle? How long did it take you to qualify or complete training for your side hustle?Patience, flexibility, and extreme diligence. I came to New York after college and was trying to find anything. I eventually signed up with a temp agency and hopped from company to company fulfilling admin duties. I would recommend this to anyone who needs to get work fast. Basically, if you can use a phone, they’ll place you. I got a lot of client service experience this way and was soon hired in my first office manager role.
Six years later, I’m an office manager, but now it incorporates executive assistance, facilities management, and human resources. I have the opportunity to touch on so many responsibilities.
In my experience, training was understanding how the office was intended to run. After that, learning was all on the job.
How does this side hustle fulfill you? Do you feel like you’re helping people/society/humanity in a tangible way?
My job is incredibly fulfilling. I view myself with two career paths: entertainment and human resources. I’ve been with my company for two years and I discovered that I love engaging with the employees’ needs. Whether that be situational support through a project they’re working on or they just need a standing desk. This past January I passed the SHRM-CP test (Society of Human Resource Management-Certified Professional). It was something I really wanted, my company supported, and I spent five months studying for. Most people spend more time in the office than they do at home and I want to be the person who gets them excited. I admire HR professionals—they can champion employees’ success— and as an actor, I’m extra sensitive to feelings.
Has your side hustle made you better at filmmaking or achieving your goals?
Yes. I need a daily routine to be productive in every facet of my life. Having a 9-5 and interacting with non-comedy/non-filmmakers makes my life so much saner. Meeting and working with a wide array of people helps me understand multiple perspectives. My colleagues encourage me to share my creative work which inspires me to make more.
Why did you choose to do this side hustle instead of more stereotypical showbiz side hustles like serving?
I can’t lie: steady income. I admire people who can hustle serving jobs and/or multiple freelance gigs, but ultimately, I’m not apt to do it. When I was hustling temp work, I realized I could do this solidly for one company full-time rather than waking up to a call from the agency telling me where to go that day.
If you produce your own work, do you feel like this current side hustle allows you the freedom/resources to do that?
I don’t know what it says about me or society, but money allows freedom. My side hustle provides a steady stream of income, and if I’m smart, I can easily afford rehearsal space, camera equipment and whatever else I need to get my production up and running.
Do you have any advice for filmmakers that aren’t sure what path to take while they are waiting for their passion to pay all the bills?
You probably don’t realize it, but your talents are transferable to other industries or careers. No, you probably can’t be a surgeon but if you’re unhappy with your current situation, there are a ton of jobs out there. Stop thinking about what you don’t have now. Focus on your health, be proactive, reach out to recruiters, and try to get eight hours of sleep every night.
Linnea Sage is an award-winning actor, voiceover artist, writer, and producer in NYC and LA. She is the creator of the animated series, “Brainless Agenda” (@BrainlessAgenda on Instagram). She starred in the comedy series “WILDCATS” on the Fullscreen Network. She also voices superheroes in the Marvel video game, “Avengers Academy.” Follow her @LinneaSage on Twitter. If you have a fulfilling side hustle and want to be featured in Linnea’s column, Side Hustle Spotlight, please introduce yourself at SageScribble@gmail.com.
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