The Day Job: What I Chose and Why

Isn’t is fun to daydream that one day you will be discovered as this magnificent talent and swept away into a life of financial security and acting jobs galore? Yes, for most actors this dream is alive and well. In the real world, most working actors do not make their living at it. So, actors have come up with creative ways to supplement their income.

You may have heard of many different types of career choices for actors, often times waiting tables or becoming a bartender is the easiest option; But those careers may not offer the long term solution to your problem-which is- Finding a position that you enjoy, with the flexibility to spend time honing your craft. In fact, many server and bartender positions are nighttime/weekend jobs, which in and of itself is not necessarily conducive to being your  most productive self.  Translation: Being exhausted and not wanting to jump out of bed for those 6:00am call times!

What I want to share with you are details about a job that is not talked about much, something you don’t study in school or necessary plan to work into your life, yet something that could be your secret to success between now and your big break! PROPERTY MANAGEMENT


I stumbled upon my career while living in Los Angeles and struggling to pay rent. I mean, let’s be real, unless you have money to burn, finding affordable housing anywhere in this country right about now is tough. This was my number one dilemma as a new Los Angeles resident, and as you know, location is everything! I wanted to be where the classes were, where the auditions were, where everything was. Today, I have been in property management 8 years and it is one of the best decisions I ever made. Here’s why:

  • I get free housing. Yep, you heard me. A company may give you a housing credit, or rent discount, but for most resident manager positions it works in their benefit to not only have an office on site but house management on site as well. It allows you to be present at all times and all hours for emergencies, tenant disputes and a plethora of other things. Either way, WINNING.
  • I work my own hours and my own schedule. Many companies require you to work 9:00AM-5:00PM, but some don’t. Either way, you are often working alone or unsupervised and you have the ability to sneak away to auditions as needed, and make up the time by staying late or clocking in on a weekend day. Discuss this with your supervising team. Work into your arrangement with the boss that you can come and go as you please and explain to them how they benefit, like not paying you overtime hours when you do make up those hours on an evening/weekend.
  • I meet tons of people! Networking, yay! Every day, I see new faces. Many people who choose to live at my properties are creatives: Writers, directors, actors, grips, technicians, relocation managers, makeup artists, photographers, etc. I have met and engaged with some of the most interesting and dynamic individuals because guess what?! Everyone needs a place to live!
  • Locations! Need a snazzy vacant apartment to film a scene in? Garden courtyard? Hallway? Parking lot? Your new job would give you instant access to all of the locations you manage. I’ve transitioned into commercial spaces as well, and you know what that means? Businesses! Empty doctor’s offices, restaurants and more! Of course, I never encourage filming without alerting property owners and acquiring property insurance, but most of the time everyone is pretty excited to be involved. As an added bonus, I get representatives from larger productions calling me up for properties as well. My apartments and homes have been featured on the TV show Grimm, and the feature film Wild with Reese Witherspoon. Big opportunity there for you to stick around while filming, be seen, make friends, and let everyone know – You are an actor.
  • Transfers. Property management is a job that translates easily across the country. When I moved back home to Oregon, finding a job was easy. Once the skill set is learned, you can apply it to any property management company anywhere. All it takes are some refresher courses to make sure you keep state mandated fair housing practices fresh in your mind. Some states have different laws than others, but for the most part they are very similar: Treat everyone equally, and do not discriminate.
  • Free Cable/Internet/Phone. A position and property that you acquire may offer several other perks that assist you in your dreams of being a working actor; a local landline or cell phone number will instantly up the anti and credit you with the appearance of being a long time residence of your new city. Believe it or not, some casting directors highly prefer seeing actors with local phone numbers. I think this must be changing in the digital age of video submissions and long distance casting correspondences, however it still cuts down on your acting budget! For obvious reasons, free internet and cable will also benefit you. Much of your acting ‘presence’ will be online (,,, personal website, etc), and good internet can cost you upwards of $50 a month! All of the little things add up, especially when you are struggling. A movie collection is great, but it could be dated, and the best way to keep tabs on your fellow actors is to catch shows current TV series, blockbusters, independent films, etc on cable (or Netflix!). Watch your favorite performers, study their work, find out what appeals to you or doesn’t, prep for that upcoming audition by watching a show that you may have never seen before- All are like acting classes, in their own right!

I know these incredible benefits are sounding pretty good to you right about now! Here’s how you get started:


Whenever you begin something new, it can feel a little daunting. Taking the first step and breaking into acting is hard enough, and if you have already done that then you can really push the envelope and reach for the stars! Acting in film or theater takes a special kind of courage, and I solute you. Breaking into a new career in property management is easy, but may take time. Here is how I did it:

  • Donate your time to learn the craft. Chances are, you are looking for an apartment to rent. When I first stumbled into a property management position, I was initially just looking for a place to call home. I went to view a room for rent in a house. The woman who met me was the owner of a very large place in Long Beach, Ca. (Suzanne, Red Peak Properties, 507 Rose Ave {Look for my initials in the cement near the driveway, lol}) and it just so happened that she didn’t want to take on the responsibility of leasing each of the rooms in the home individually. I proposed to take on that responsibility in exchange for one thing: A reference. She understood that I didn’t know much about management, but was willing to work with me. Looking back now, I would have tried to argue for a discounted or free rent as well. Alas, a reference turned out to be all that was needed. I agreed to stay on for one year, manage all of the turns (industry terminology for prepping an apartment before and after new people move in), all of the screening, and all of the financials. If you want to start the way I did, search for private owners on craigslist or call up a property management company and offer to intern for a certain length of time- as long as they send you away with their blessing, you will be free to begin a formal job search in the field of property management!
  • Change your resume. Take a look at your resume. Add in new goals, switch up the verbiage and make it reflect the skills that you obtained while interning on your first property. Most owners or property management companies welcome the opportunity to train a qualified individual. Look for ads like this one that I found online just now in less than a minute:


Ben Leeds Properties ( is currently seeking an on-site manager for our our 44-unit property, located at 1136-1160 El Centro, LA 90027. The unit will be available in mid-January. The manager receives a 2-bedroom/1-bath unit, plus $500 per month, plus additional bonuses.

Ben Leeds Properties manages over 125 apartment buildings in the Los Angeles area and provides managers full administrative and maintenance support.

Manager should have experience in all phases of apartment management including:
• The ability to lease apartments at top dollar, higher than the competition
• Collect Rents/ issue late/eviction notices
• Issue 3-day notices
• Work with Vendors and Repairman
• Must have computer and printer
• Must have reliable transportation for banking purposes
• Managers should have acceptable credit scores
• Understand Fair Housing laws and regulations

We are happy to train qualified applicants.
We look forward to receiving your resume.

In fact, I have worked for the above company and highly recommend them!

  • Pile on the experience. It is commonly known that most job moves are not lateral, meaning that if you start looking for a new position within a new company you will probably take on a better position and better salary the more you move around. The quicker you will rise on the ladder within your chosen line of work. Dedication to one job does look great on your resume, but if you show a few instances where you stayed on for at least a year and then peacefully embarked on a new journey somewhere else, no one will scoff at you. Good references are key here. I recommend that you make these moves for your first few years in management. Not only will you be able to learn a wide array of information on how several different owners like to do business and run their properties, you will make more money and relocate to better apartments each time (hopefully!). If you are fortunate, and find a position that you love, with people that challenge you and support you- then that is the time to stick around. Only move if you feel you are ready to take on more, and your current company cannot provide you with the responsibilities you desire.
  • Learn to manage your stress. Taking care of other people, especially when it comes to their homes, can be stressful. I can think of more than one occasion where I outright broke down and had a panic attack and thought I would just quit the whole thing. I promise, it is so, so worth it if you stick it out. Take a deep breath, remember how far you’ve come, take a break if you need to, and then get your butt back in gear. At the end of the day, this is a customer service industry and if you haven’t learned by now- people can be cruel. You have the potential of facing this in any line of work, so tackle it head on and be fearless, smile and keep on truckin’.
  • Keep a clean record. When going through the application and screening process for your new property management position, be prepared that they will screen you as an on site tenant as well. Their full criminal/credit background check will be conducted, and if they expect you to have transportation than a driving record check will be conducted as well. They will look at everything including blips on your credit report. Keep this in mind. In not only this position, having a clean record will benefit you.
  • Be Honest. Remember when I said you could work your own hours? Sneak away for auditions? Of all of the jobs I have ever held, property management stands out as the line of work that has instilled the most trust in me as an employee. You will be let go quickly if employers find that you are not completing your responsibilities as a manager, and the little things that you may neglect on a property will catch the owner’s eye if they ever stop by unannounced. BE HONEST. It is worth it for the feeling of pride you will have when admiring a job well done!


That’s it!

Finding the right line of work is a rewarding experience. Many people follow the expectations of others and miss out on what might make them happiest in life. Always think long and hard before making any major changes in your career field, but also remember that you are never too old or too young to be brave and try something new! I hope this post enlightens some people to negotiate better terms surrounding their acting dreams, and I hope you give property management a shot.


To culminate my post…

Take a look at this video snapshot of my beautiful home today, a historic converted carriage house with huge doors the size of an entire wall, all compliments of my current job. I love the peace and tranquility that the fresh rain brings right in to my living room: My House.

Some other unique properties I manage today:

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