If you’re stuck in a cubicle from 9 to 5 or pulling gizzards from a turkey on the assembly line, the actor’s life must look pretty sweet. You work a few hours at night, recite words someone else wrote and pretend you’re someone else. As Dire Straits sang about the music industry, “That ain’t working, that’s the way you do it — get your money for nothin’.”
When actor Jared Oxborough suggested he was thinking of a different career, friends told him: “Dude, you’re crazy; you should be grateful.”
And he was. But just as farmers profess an affinity for what they call “a lifestyle, not a job,” actors also accept the circumstances that define their world.
You get one day a week off (the glamorous Monday). You work nights, weekends and holidays. You miss the social life normal folks enjoy. You spend sleepless nights wondering if you passed the audition — and if you do, you work for six weeks while worrying about where the next job will come from.
The money is a mixed bag. A lead role might get you $1,500 a week at a top regional theater, but you can count on lots of gigs that pay a third of that, or worse. You get into the business to create art, not to get rich. Actors say they get very familiar with the unemployment office for long stretches of time.
So it should not come as a shock that some actors — even successful performers who appear to work continually — decide that the time has come to trade the fame, the adulation, the critics’ barbs, for something more stable and potentially more lucrative.
Here are the stories of four actors who seemed to have it made. They were familiar faces on some of the biggest stages in the Twin Cities. And then they were gone — maybe not forever but certainly not in the same omnipresence. “You never say never,” said Oxborough, who still nurses his fondness for performing even though he’s set his cap for a real estate career.
Jodi Kellogg was so active that she was in 17 shows one year. She exited the stage for the world of risk management assessment for KPMG, one of the big-four global accounting firms.
“I’ve spent decades never having a weekend off — if you’re not performing, you’re rehearsing or auditioning,” Kellogg said. “I don’t miss that. But I miss being an artist.”