By Julie Lasheski
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
With a part-time job as an office coordinator at Towson University, local artist Lisa Davidson is also an actress in the production That Way Madness Lies at the Church & Co. building on Falls Road in Baltimore.
Davidson graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2011 with a degree in theater, film and media studies with a minor in music. As a local artist in Baltimore with a nine-to-five desk job, she is a prime example of how attending school for one thing does not guarantee a job in that field post-graduation.
“If it didn’t come down to money, the kind of job I’d have right now would be different,” the 25-year-old Baltimore City resident said. “The arts don’t pay.”
It is next to impossible to get a well paying acting job, Davidson said. Davidson says that the most she has ever received from acting in a play, which is about a two-month endeavor, was $300. She normally performs for even less than that or volunteers.
“There’s what you do to make ends meet and then there’s what you love to do,” Davidson said. “Acting is what I love to do and obviously I do it despite the pay.”
After graduating, Davidson looked for jobs in the drama field even if it was not necessarily an acting job. Most people with a degree like Davidson will pursue a related career, like stage managing or theater directing.
“I do love my job as an office coordinator even though it was never my dream to have a desk job,” Davidson said. “I like it mostly because of its nine-to-five flow. It leaves my weekends and evenings free for me to pursue more side acting jobs.”
Davidson’s performance in That Way Madness Lies is her 10th show post-graduation and she already has two more lined up as well. Along with picking up small acting gigs, Davidson has also done work in directing and production.
“Only one of my friends I graduated with has a full-time job in acting,” Davidson said. “Even she has a part-time job as a professor to make more money.”
The theater department at St. Mary’s College of Maryland is small and a majority of the graduates stay in the area. Davidson believes that location definitely plays a huge roll in finding a job in the arts.
“Location is key to pursuing acting,” Davidson said. “If I lived somewhere else, like Columbia, with an easy commute to D.C. and Baltimore, I would have more acting jobs available for sure.”
Out of Davidson’s five other cast mates, three of them work at Center Stage downtown, one works as a drama teacher at Delaunay High School, and one works for an educational theatre program as a tutor. All of these jobs involve the arts, but are not acting careers.
“People in the arts aren’t the only ones who struggle to find careers in their field after they graduate,” said Erin Dorsey, 20, a co-worker of Davidson. “I know right now, luckily, the computer science field is not competitive. The education department, for example, is a different story.”