It may be clichéd to say that all struggling actors and actresses have to pay their dues as servers before making it big, but the stereotype is born of truth: plenty of waiters and waitresses are hoping for their big break, and some of the world’s biggest celebrities once made a living waiting tables, tending bar, or serving fast food.
Working in a bar or restaurant is a good move for actors and actresses for one main reason: It’s not a nine-to-five job. Because the hours are so varied, and because it’s relatively easy to find someone to cover your shift if necessary, there’s still plenty of time to go on auditions. Most of the work is also at night, which means that days are usually left open. Another advantage? When you’ve been on your feet for five hours, haven’t eaten anything, and need to smile and be friendly, no matter what, some acting skills could certainly come in handy.
Some celebrities go on to open their own restaurants later in life as a second career, and while some of those fail miserably, it’s clear that there’s something about the hospitality industry that attracts the same type of go-getters that long for a life in the spotlight. Some performers are actually failed restaurateurs: Before making it big, Harry Belafonte and two friends ran a burger joint in Greenwich Village called The Sage that only lasted for eight months before going belly-up.
Read on to learn about 10 actors and actresses who started out working in bars and restaurants. And if you’re looking for a big break yourself, take heart: everybody had to start somewhere.