Emma Thompson and Shower-Curtains

March 29, 2020 in Blog

Where the money is… and isn’t

Emma Thompson recently came clean when she was asked if her level of fame now means that she can turn down crappy acting roles. “I don’t always say no to rubbish,” she said, “because that’s often the best paid.“ Good for you. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one.

Throughout my career, such as it is, my best work, the things I am most proud of, have invariably been the worst paid. On the other hand, those dreadful gigs that I’d rather not tell you about, can pay very well indeed. So whereas the annual awards dinner for a company that makes shower-curtains could pay for my holiday, being on the telly with a glamorous orchestra might not cover the bus fare home.

But of course, money isn’t everything. In this game, being seen and getting your name out there is what it’s all about. And not just when you’re starting out. Celebrities appear on chat shows for free so they can talk about their latest book, they show up at premieres hoping their photo will appear in Heat magazine and they might even date someone a bit more famous than them, just to give their profile a boost. Imagine that, going out with someone you can’t stand just to get a mention in Heat magazine.

The problem is, when there’s no money and no exposure. There are plenty of dodgy agents who take advantage of performers, desperate to be seen, by having them work for very little on gigs that mean even less. In a business where the supply of talent far, far exceeds the demand, exploitation is par for the course. When an agent tells you, “It’s terrible money but it could be great for your career,” they usually mean it will be great for them.

It’s a tough business but the lure of fame and fortune keeps hungry artistes queuing up to take their chances. My advice to any young performer is to keep their day job for as long as possible. I had a business selling fire extinguishers for years before I dared give it up. I’d spend my nights getting standing ovations in the West End’s Rat Pack and my days folding fire blankets. There’s no shame in earning a living. Having a little extra money allows us to indulge our artistic whims.

To spend time making music is a privilege and worth the sacrifices. Even when I’m singing to shower-curtain salesmen, at least I’m singing. I’m sure Emma Thompson would approve.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}