To many, the Hollywood lifestyle still seems like a glamorous dream. The actors we idolize seem impervious to the pitfalls of average Americans. However, even the entertainment industry has been affected by the current economic crisis. Just like every other industry, fewer jobs are available now than in recent years, and the competition for the jobs that are open is even more cutthroat.
Christine Lakin has been acting since her teenage years, when she appeared as a series regular on the 90s sitcom Step by Step. She has also been featured in more than two dozen series and 17 movies. However, like most of the country, she has seen her career and life change dramatically over the past few years. Now, instead of a constant slew of various auditions and offers, she is adjusting to creatively expanding her search and working in different parts of the industry.
Lakin echoes sentiments being uttered in nearly every industry in the country. “In the past five or six years, studios are not doing as many films. And that means that you have more movie stars going into television — not just to star in series, but also to do three-or-four-episode guest roles,” she states. “And that trickles down to people like me, and pushes a lot of us into the category where we’re just trying to make a living.”
At the busiest point in her career, Lakin says she “would have three or four appointments a day for the better part of two or three months. That meant changing in the car and running from one side of town to another for auditions and callbacks every day.” A few years ago things began to slow down, but she still averaged auditions or callbacks for four or five pilots a week. This year, however, she believes she only went on about four auditions in total. “Number one, studios just weren’t making as many [pilots]. And number two, they know that if they’re going to spend money on a show, they need to do whatever they can to make sure that viewers will notice that show right away. If you get a movie star in the show, that makes it that much easier to sell.”
Now, just like everybody else, Lakin finds herself hunting for and creating opportunities for herself. “If I just waited by the phone for the kind of offers I used to get to come in, I’d never work,” said Lakin, who also serves as a member of the Hollywood Screen Actors Guild board. “What I’m doing now isn’t what I ever imagined myself doing, but you have to use the skill set you have if you want to work.” In addition to continuing to audition, Lakin has worked as a choreographer, a voiceover artist, and producer for shows in small theaters. In addition, she is currently closing a deal with Hulu for a web series she created and wrote. In the series, called “Lovin’ Lakin,” she plays a onetime television actress trying to make a comeback, a sentiment Lakin can obviously relate to.
This kind of drive and versatility is necessary for modern actors. In Lakin’s words, “You may not want to do a web series or take a below-the-line job — but the last few years have been so unpredictable and so slow that most of the actors I know just aren’t making the kind of living they were five years ago… I’m being honest here — if you want to make a living, it’s definitely a hustle.”
Written by Jillian Sara Santella