How Actors Make Money and Create Careers, by JoBe Cerny

You know how to act...But do you know how to find acting jobs?

HAMMFrontCover1JoBe Cerny has the answers,

In 2002, a version of this book was released under the title I Could Have Been a Cabdriver . . . But I Became an Actor Instead (A Practical Guide to the Business of Acting). It was a fanciful, artistic title, but actors had trouble remembering the title and finding the book. Eventually, the book found a large group of readers and is now considered to be the best book about the business of acting by working actors. Many professional acting schools, private acting coaches, and a growing number of universities recommend the book. The initial printing of the book is sold out. Hundreds of actors have thanked me for the good advice that launched their careers.

First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is JoBe Cerny, and I am one of the most successful professional actors in SAG/AFTRA and Actor’s Equity. I am vested in all three unions’ pension plans. During my career, I have performed in over 3,000 productions and wrote, directed and produced over 9,000 other productions. I have been a professional business advisor to all three unions in creating new contracts that create more work for professional actors. I have been a professional actor since 1968. I know how successful actors make money and sustain long careers. I’ve had many university students apprentice at my Chicago studios, spending three months writing “A Dream Career Thesis.” The majority of them went on to full-time careers. Because the business of acting is constantly changing, this book is a re-titled and updated version of my first book.

When I went to college, there were no books that explained how actors make money. There was no model business plan for an actor to find work. The books were just basic introductions to getting headshots, writing resumes, finding agents, preparing audition monologues, and introductions to the unions. There was no successful business model for actors to emulate and adjust to their needs. Ten years after I became a full-time working actor, I returned to my Alma Maters, Valparaiso and Northwestern Universities to teach business seminars about the business of acting. In those seminars, I listened to the students’ questions about the business and provided them with answers to their questions. I also started to give lectures at Columbia College in Chicago, and Barbara Robertson, one of Chicago’s finest theater actresses and a very responsible acting coach suggested I turn my lectures into a text book.

This is a business book, but it is fun book to read. If you want an acting career, this book will give you all the answers to create a successful business plan. The acting business is a tough one. Professional actors need to earn money. Agents and managers only represent working actors who earn money. This book will give you a dose of reality about what it takes to become a professional actor. I hope my advice will encourage and inspire you!


My book is used in the following Universities,

Columbia College, Illinois State University, Valporaiso University, Ohio Northern University, Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, University of Wisconsi in Plattville, Indiana University, North Dakota State University





This book is the sole source that encourages young actors to focus their time and energy on having a career as an actor. It is informative, authoritative, humorous, and inspiring.”

Barbara Robertson, Helen Hayes Award, Eight Jefferson Awards
Professor Columbia College


JoBe Cerny is both an artist and a very successful business man. No one explores what actors do as business people as profoundly as Cerny does.”

Jack McLaughlin Gray, Professor of Acting,
Illinois State University


When JoBe Cerny spoke to our drama majors, it was one of those rare days when the students wished class could be a little longer. Thanks to you and Northwestern for providing our students with such an informative and inspiring opportunity!”

Ross Frellick, Lincoln Park High School Drama Major Program.


Written in story format based on forty years of continuous successes, JoBe talks to his readers as if telling stories from his living room surrounded by eager listeners. The advice is challenging yet the tone of the book is nuturing and encouraging.”

Peter Cocuzza, Theater Department Chair,
Southern Illinois University


I’ve represented JoBe Cerny for twenty years. He knows how to find and create acting work. He acts, writes, produces and directs. He’s worked on over 12,000 projects. This book is filled with tried and true ways to find acting work.

Erik Seastrand, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment,
vice president, agent, and attorney.

About the Author

JoBe Cerny is an award-winning actor, producer, director and writer. He grew up in Cicero, Illinois, home of Al Capone and organized crime. His high school reunions are small because many of his classmates are serving fifty to life. Cerny worked his way through college digging holes with a pick and shovel for a Cicero sewer company. Working in the gutters gave him a chance to talk to criminals and develop his lethal sense of humor.