Before Wendi McLendon-Covey's acting career took off with the 2011 romantic comedy "Bridesmaids" and ABC's sitcom "The Goldbergs," in which she stars as Beverly Goldberg, she was stuck in a job she hated.
"I was working at a hotel near Disneyland with my best friend and thought, 'This sucks so badly,'" the actress says in an interview with online investing platform Wealthsimple. She and that same friend had been to improv shows at The Groundlings and decided to sign up for comedy classes together.
It quickly became "the highlight of our week," she says. "We just kept going with it and loving it and I thought, 'OK, well, I'm just going to keep going until they tell me to stop. At some point, they'll probably tell me I'm no good at this.' But they never did."
Though McLendon-Covey decided to pursue comedy and acting as a career, she didn't like the idea of being a starving artist: "I never wanted to be one of those desperate actors just waiting for their next gig, who might have to take something that they didn't want to do to pay the rent."
That's why she always had at least a part-time job while auditioning and even after landing roles on "Reno 911!," "Lovespring International," "Rules of Engagement" and "Bridesmaids."
She held onto one side hustle, an editing job at a social work journal, for 12 years. "I'd be in my trailer on set editing things, and on location with my computer and my manuscript editing," she tells Wealthsimple.
"The thing about acting is everybody thinks you make a ton of money," she adds. "And the money is good when you're working. But you can go a long time between jobs."
Her more consistent part-time work "gave me a sense of stability that I had this steady income coming in."
Comedian and TV personality Jay Leno did something similar when he was breaking into comedy: He supplemented the earnings from his gigs with money he made working at a car dealership. Even after taking on "The Tonight Show," which he hosted for 22 years, he still worked at least two jobs simultaneously.
While McLendon-Covey doesn't have her editing job anymore — the social work journal folded in 2012 — the actress now has passive income coming in from real estate. She and her husband maintain four rental properties and "I'm raring to buy some more," she says.
And the 48-year-old doesn't plan on retiring anytime soon — or ever. "I plan on working until I'm 105," says McLendon-Covey. "I don't want to outlive my money. So you've got to keep sowing seeds."
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