Survival (Job) of The Fittest

What’s the hardest thing about being an up and coming performer in New York? Is it getting up at the crack of dawn to sign up for EPAs? Keeping the faith in an industry awash with talented hopefuls? Pounding through auditions to get that dream job?

In my experience, it’s finding the perfect survival job. Let’s face it, only 1% of us become successful enough to survive on acting income alone. So how to find that job that allows you to live in the most expensive city in the U.S., have enough flexibility to audition and perform, and create enough capital to fund your small business (acting)?

This has been my greatest challenge in my 10+ years living in NYC, and I’m happy to report that I’ve finally found the solution! Boy, do I wish someone had told me this when I arrived here the day after graduation…

Unless you’re fortunate enough to have family connections in the business or have another means of jumpstarting and bankrolling your career, most performers I know face this same question. Many of us solve it by working in the service industry-waiters, hosts, bartenders, etc. But the physical toll of the work on your body plus the late hours (2AM closing, anyone?) has derailed many a performer’s career.

Now imagine a survival job that’s extremely flexible, fun, and provides enough income to live and fund your acting career. It’s a portable skill with more than enough opportunities for everyone. You can work as much or as little as you like, and it’s easy to find competent coverage when you’re on set or in rehearsal.

Sound too good to be true?

It’s not. I am a certified yoga instructor, and my acting career is flourishing as a result! Teaching yoga keeps me in great shape, gives me a healthy place to be of service to others, provides an amazing, supportive community, and oh yeah-easily pays my living expenses while I audition and perform.

Crystal Williamson, an inspiring life coach and actress, interviewed me for her radio show on March 26th about the perfect marriage of yoga and acting. Crystal is the owner of Coaching with Crystal, and I was honored to be chosen as one of the female entrepreneurs she interviewed for Women’s History Month. If you’d like to hear more about how teaching changed my life, check out the interview here:

CLICK HERE

Now, what about you? You’ll need a 200 Hour Yoga Alliance certification in order to start your teaching career. I’d suggest doing some online research to find the yoga certification program in Manhattan that suits you best.

If you’d like a $500 scholarship for NYC Yoga Alliance certification, email me at amberpaulyoga@gmail.com and I’ll tell you how to apply. There are several scholarships available! You can also email me if you’d like my personal recommendations for solid, performer-friendly yoga certification programs. Good luck, and happy teaching!

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From Type A to Ahhhhhhh…

If you had told me 5 years ago that I’d be a yoga teacher, I would have laughed. HARD. Truth is, I’ve practiced meditation since childhood and had a steady yoga practice throughout my adult life.

However, I am also the ultimate Type A personality: driven, ambitious, persevering, outspoken, and direct. My biggest fans also call me rigid, ballsy, and intimidating. So, how to reconcile all this fire and drive with the image of a relaxed and trippy yoga instructor?

I now teach yoga full-time (in addition to my indie feature forays), and it is without question THE BEST DECISION I EVER MADE! So just how does the Ultimate Type A find herself in the warm, relaxing embrace of the yoga community? Read on….

This time 5 years ago, I was in a bad mood. A REALLY bad mood. My acting career in LA had just come to a screeching halt in a tangle of metal, glass, and the engine block of my car. Strangely enough, my airbag didn’t inflate.

I was back in New York, trying to get the left side of my body to coordinate with the right and embarking on a year and a half of physical therapy. Having overcome childhood trauma, I know how to recover from physical challenges. I felt grateful, but my Type A former bookkeeper’s mind was struggling with another challenge: MEDICAL BILLS.

Many performers cycle in and out of health insurance, and I had my car accident 2 weeks before my insurance started through a new job. I kept getting bills in the mail marked “Advanced Life Support, ” which helped me fully understand my body’s reaction to impact with an SUV.

So I did what any self-respecting New York actor would do: I got a job waiting tables. I called the LA hospital, set up a payment plan, and started the long crawl towards the abundance mindset I now currently OWN (thank you, Emiliya Z).

I landed at one of those iconic, fast-paced, high stress pre-theatre Upper West Side restaurants. I worked doubles, 18-day stretches, and closed many nights in order to recover my normally balanced budget. Three years from today, I will finally be free of the financial lessons learned via my accident. Whew.

I was stressed out, feisty, and likely to blow a fuse at the drop of a linen napkin. I was famous for telling grown men to stop complaining and eat their damn dinner. One night I tripped on some lasagna and fell down the stairs, buying myself 5 days on my back with a sprained ankle. As I lay there cursing my luck and wondering how I would make my payments, I remembered my retirement fantasy. I’ve always wanted to retire to an island and teach yoga. Well, I live on Manhattan island now and sure as hell was ready to retire from the restaurant business!

I made a beeline to Sonic Yoga, which at the time was owned by author and blogger extraordinaire Jonathan Fields. I peppered him with my questions, which he answered with the savvy of a former Type A. The warm welcome by office manager/ goddess and now close friend Shelley Adelle sealed the deal.

Now, thanks to yoga, I live a relaxed and miraculous life. When I walk in to teach, happy, glowing faces greet me at the door. People are grateful for what I have to offer instead of throwing brunch bread baskets at my head. I’m fortunate to teach in 5 Midtown locations and to work with private clients who open my heart, mind, and soul.

Casting directors and actors alike ask me what I’m on that allows me to be so blissed out during auditions. I always reply YOGA and now love the entire process of acting from the audition to the Q &A at the film festivals where most of my projects are screened.

I’m even grateful for the crash that led to the high stress job that pointed the way towards my beautiful new life of helping others and enjoying the community spirit of indie film sets.