The Realities of the Entertainment Industry

Michael Elkins, Guest Writer

Ever see the same person on multiple television shows, commercials or movies yet cannot quite place them? Known as working entertainers, these people consistently and successfully work in the entertainment industry. Many people only deem an actor successful if they appear on the silver screen or a hit comedy show. However, many actors who do not have this type of notoriety remain successful through hard work, determination and the mindset to never give up and follow their dreams. 

Actor, content creator, writer and host Sarah Pribis currently resides in New York City. After graduating from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Pribis has gone from hosting a popular app to appearing in films with Ice-T and Cobie Smulders. 

Notably, Pribis was one of the original hosts of the popular app “HQ Trivia.” She has also appeared in multiple film and television roles including “The Purge,” “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “Dirty John” and “Two Sentence Horror Stories.” As a content creator, Pribis has collaborated with companies including cosmetic line L’Oreal and popular casting website Backstage. 

Pribis frequently posts videos online on her TikTok (@sarahpribis) exploring the complexities of working in the industry. For any actor wishing to enter the business, Pribis gives a proper insight into the realities of the job and shows that it is not always as glamorous as it may appear. 

Unless one has Leonardo DiCaprio-level fame, one cannot make a full-time living as an entertainer. However, hard work and great connections allow Pribis to pursue what she loves every week. 

“I think I just feel super blessed to be able to do something that I love as my job. Truly I think that’s what it comes down to. Yes, I work really hard and there’s a lot of work involved, but because I like what I do, I will just keep working and creating TikToks or working on scripts that I’m writing because I love it so much. I really love the adventure of it and feel grateful to do something that I love so much,” Pribis said. 

Furthermore, an important aspect of the entertainment industry is developing a thick skin — actors face rejection for the majority of the roles they audition for, most times never knowing why. Even the most famous actors around today faced rejection at some point early in their careers. As world-renowned actor Sylvester Stallone once said, “I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.”

Pribis utilizes this mentality as she ventures from audition to audition, but at times, the rejection can take its toll. 

“I think that rejection can be very difficult and the longer you stay in it, the less you take it personally and the more you see that it’s almost like a numbers game. I would actually say I used to care a lot about what other people thought about me and it was quite painful,” Pribis said. “I’ve had a couple of experiences in particular I think that have even made my skin get thick real fast. One of them was hosting HQ Trivia when there was literally that chat every single night where I would see trolls typing in all kinds of nasty stuff about me.” 

Those pursuing an acting career will, at some point, face rejection, it is inevitable. However, developing a strong foundational confidence and believing in oneself can help people move past it and start working on the next project. 

“Having perseverance and patience [is important] because sure you can get lucky, but I think you get lucky with a job. A career is built on longevity,” Pribis said. 

Another important aspect of a working entertainer is networking. Half of the industry is marketing yourself and creating your own opportunities. For Pribis, she has found it remains one’s hustle that defines her opportunities.

 “I will say that I think a lot of actors believe that an agent will solve their problems. And certainly, an agent is a great step in the right direction and they can get you access to things that we definitely don’t have access to on our own. However, an agent isn’t the answer. [While] I can only speak from personal experience, the reason I have the quantity of opportunities that I have right now is because I hustle for them,” Pribis said. “I have multiple agents, so when you see that I’m getting twelve auditions a week, that is because maybe eight have come in from one agent and three have come in from another. Also, some of them have come in from my prior set experience and relationships that I’ve built or from self submissions, because I’m still submitting myself every single day.”

Dry weeks are another common occurrence in Hollywood. Many actors have other occupations to support themselves or side hustles when auditions are not rolling in the door. For Pribis, content creation has been her biggest support. 

“I have been really lucky to have found content creation as my side hustle at this point. And the reason I love it is because it’s all the things that I love about acting and being creative in the first place. I get to storytell, I get to do sketches, I can literally act on TikTok, there’s so much you can do. I feel fortunate that my career has sort of been built the way that it has because it’s taught me how to provide for myself in those times, so that if I ever get to that point when I am working series regular gigs, and there is time in between where I’m not taking the types of jobs that I take now, I still know how to make money,” Pribis said. 

No matter the level of stardom, the entertainment industry leaves its impact on people in many different ways. While many dream of walking the red carpet, staying grounded and separating oneself from their work remains important in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. 

The notorious reputation behind the entertainment industry represents how difficult and dedicated one must be to succeed. Many go years without booking a role. Actress Betty White did not book her first television show until the age of 51. Alan Rickman was 42 when he booked the Harry Potter franchise. Giving up may seem like the easier option, but if you believe in yourself and work hard at your goals, anything you put your mind to is possible. 

“Don’t tie your worth or your identity to your job. I think it’s really taught me to know who I am and what’s important to me and be present for it. I think if we’re so wrapped up in the future, then we have anxiety about it or we worry about the past. We’re not actually in the present moment enjoying what we’ve worked hard for. It’s just sort of that dedication and belief and drive to keep going,” Pribis said.