Career series: Actors/actresses are contractual employees


I’m starting a career series on this blog to explore different career fields and their pros and cons. Not that I’m making a career jump anytime soon.  Haha.  I just want to open young millenials’ eyes to the different career options out there. Choosing a career is important because it is a life-long decision. Touch move and you’re stuck with a college degree and career path FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Moreover, your career or job will be your main source of income for the first few years of your life. If you have a career story to share (anonymous or otherwise), please don’t hesitate to email me at

I’m watching local TV and the kid it-boy of the season is on. He’s a performer / actor in a local noontime show. He can’t be more than 7 years old but the audience loves him. He is a chubby little boy with fair skin (the Filipino ideal unfortunately). He’s gotten so popular that he is featured in the local weekday news. This just goes to show the declining quality of Philippine local news.

But I digress. What is it with people and the desire to become an actor / model / host / singer / performer? Okay, I totally understand if any of those fields are your passion and you want to pursue them in order to attain self-actualization. However, most people pursue these fields in order to make money and help their usually poor family.

Actors, models and the like are contractual employees

Most people join shows like American Idol, Starstruck, and big brother to get their start in the showbiz industry. They labor under the belief that this industry will allow them to make waay more money than they ever will in their current job. They can skip college or an elementary, high school or higher education and immediately help their family.

But did you know about the precarious nature of this job of being in the limelight? True, showbiz jobs pay a lot of money for seemingly* minimal effort and time. A friend once told me that she made over PhP 10,000.00 for a single photo shoot that took an hour to do. Others make several hundred thousands just for the same job. It depends on your popularity really.

Actors/actresses are independent contractors. They control their own method of doing their job. They are paid by the contract – i.e. one contract for one show, or movie or TV show. Once the project is done, the contract ends. The termination of the contract validly ends any contractual tie between the employer and the talent. There is no obligation for the network or production company to retain such actor again. In short, there is no security of tenure.

Once your contract ends, there is no guarantee where your next paycheck will come from. You will have to survive on the money you made from the last paycheck.

Occupational hazzards of being famous

Normally this would be easy to handle. You can choose to live frugally during the months when you have no projects. You can do this by taking the bus or the train or jeepney. You can eat at cheaper restaurants. You can skip on the clubbing. If four months later or after such time that your emergency funds run out, you can sell some stuff to get by.

But can you imagine your fave celebrities doing this? Gossip shows will usually shred your reputation if they got wind of such lifestyle changes. You may be deemed a has-been and end up losing your popularity, and consequently, the projects end up drying up.

Being famous requires a lot of lifestyle inflation. You’re required to carry the latest it-bag, wear expensive clothes, look good and constantly maintain your looks with surgery or by gym exercise. By the time several months go by without any contracts and you lose your source of income, it becomes difficult to bring your lifestyle back down to earth.

These are occupational hazzards I guess. A fact that most people appear ignorant of or don’t seem to care about.

Would you want to be an actor/actress?
20 something lawyer

*With all due respect to performers, the efforts appear minimal but actually require a lot of work.  Acting is a difficult job and requires a lot of internal preparation. 


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