After Two Years of the Pandemic, How Are Our Entertainment Workers Coping?

2020 was a tumultuous time for the entertainment industry. From total closures to managing new guidelines related to COVID, studios, entertainment workers, and actors were required to pivot — some in more ways than one.

While studios were in crisis management mode, the 892,000 entertainment workers across Los Angeles were suddenly without income, and the usual readily available side jobs, such as waiting tables, or brand ambassador gigs, had all but disappeared.

As such, many were required to rethink the ways they could bring in reliable income. Some qualified for unemployment, and some had to move out of LA to find a more affordable living arrangement until the pandemic blew over… but two years on and a number of variants later, they’re still waiting. For those who remain, working circumstances are unstable.

Rigorous set guidelines and mandated closures when an infection is detected still regularly disrupt their working lives, and considering most entertainment workers are contractors, paid time off or sick leave is non-existent. 

As such, many have adopted side hustles to support themselves while also continuing to pursue careers in entertainment. Unfortunately, this comes with its own set of drawbacks.

Many businesses aren’t willing to offer workers more flexible working arrangements so they can go to auditions or work on longer productions. Those that are willing typically offer minimum wage, which isn’t sufficient in covering expenses, as evidenced by the ongoing ‘Great Resignation.’  So how are LA’s entertainment workers surviving?

While some are managing to scrape by, others have innovated and sourced industries where they can work flexibly while also making enough money to have a life. Solar is one such industry that has attracted entertainment workers since the beginning of the pandemic, mainly due to initiatives like DAC-SASH or Federal solar tax credits incentivizing homeowners from all economic backgrounds to install solar power systems.

These reduced financial barriers have increased demand, which means jobs within the solar industry are readily available and don’t require specialized skills – basic interpersonal skills and the ability to use a phone and computer are all that’s required.

Trent Edmond or known as “Downlowd”, an LA-based DJ and music producer, is one such entertainment worker. At the beginning of the pandemic, he answered a job posting for a solar energy sales consultant at Solar Energy Partners, a solar brokerage company.

Although the learning curve was steep, and it took some time to get up to speed, after three months of work he suddenly found his groove — closing to five sales per week. He even managed to make $20,000 one week when he hit a lucky streak of willing buyers, before being promoted to district manager.

Edmond shares, “in a time where things couldn’t have been more unsure, the journey working with SEP provided me with a platform to be able to succeed at simultaneously being able to help people and pursue my dreams. I’ve always had big ideas but lacked the means to execute them. Through the work I do in solar, I can continue working on music with the security I’ve found in the industry. It feels great to see the relief in someone’s eyes when you can save them an entire college tuition or more by switching their power provider to green energy.”

Take Jodi Cahn, North Bay Assistant District Manager at Solar Energy Partners for an example. Before her success as a leader in sales for solar, she worked in the film industry as a writer, director, and producer. Jodi shares, “I believe this experience and overcoming the challenges presented to me has made me a much stronger and well-rounded person and salesperson.”

Many of her skills were transferable to learn more about solar power systems and climate change. Not only has she found success in the business but has massive guidance and training in the solar industry. 

Although commission-based work is dependent on the work an individual puts in, it offers a benefit particularly valuable for those in the entertainment industry – flexibility. Edmonds found this aspect particularly beneficial for him and his colleagues in similar situations due to the pandemic – referring to a colleague who took time off to shoot a movie with Amazon before returning and resuming their role in solar while they waited for their next project to land. 

Despite the languishing nature of the pandemic leaving many of us trudging through the day-to-day, it’s clear that those looking to make it in the entertainment industry are hustling as hard as ever.

Through innovating and finding new opportunities to make money on the side when the traditional options aren’t available, entertainers are not only surviving the pandemic but are making a decent living while they do.

Staff Writer
Staff Writer
The LA Note and our team of talent networkers, writers, social media managers, and management are excited to present you with unique stories of amazing individuals following their dreams.


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