Many of us aspire to be a “professional”, but you really need to ask yourself if you’re willing to do the work, hours upon hours of work rehearsing, taking classes, getting mentorship, researching, costuming, networking, writing emails, applying to festivals, contributing to community, attending shows, etc. This is also a big investment of money. If you don’t invest the funds and/or the investment of time-it is a hard reality that you will most likely stay at a non-professional level. For many professionals, this is a challenging, yet rewarding life. We aren’t doing it for the money, since over-saturation has made it progressively harder and harder to fill our local and international schedule. We do it because there’s no other option for us. This is what we do. We’re entertainers to the core. This is a full-time job for many of us (and some even working more than one job), making ends meet by teaching, costuming, hustling, modeling, performing-because this is all we know how to do.
Those who don’t operate at the professional level are a bit different. You might do many of the things above, but you have a full-time job, and it’s easy for you to put performing on the backburner. Perhaps this is something that simply keeps you entertained, and you’re not interested in performing on giant stages for 1,200 people-knowing that every second its up to you to keep a person entertained. Maybe you just like dressing up and going to shows and occasionally performing for your friends in shows that you all produce together-that’s great! There’s space for both of these sides of the community, sides of the same coin.
Also note that just because you want to be a successful pro doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen for you. Every artist isn’t successful-but they still do it because they love it, just at a different level.