• Lifestyle

8 celebrities with unusual side gigs

Source: SCOTT GRIES — Scott Gries/Animal Planet

It’s rare to meet a freelancer who isn’t some kind of ‘hybrid’: a photographer/graphic designer, an actor/writer, a filmmaker/editor. Having a dual career path is increasingly common, especially for creative types.

When you think about it, most celebrities are very very successful freelancers in the entertainment business – jumping from gig to gig, forging their own career path. Is it surprising, then, that some of these stars dabble in side gigs?

Celebrities! They’re just like us – freelance-style.*

Gwyneth Paltrow and Blake Lively

Perhaps the most-pilloried group, actor/lifestyle webpreneurs include GOOP creator Gwyneth Paltrow and Blake Lively (who recently launched the much-mocked Preserve). Both women are seeking to become tastemakers ala Oprah Winfrey, but are having… mixed success, thus far.

We’ll leave the endless snark on those sites to other people, as we’re not really equipped to judge them – we’re rarely in the market for $400 organic school supplies, and the like. We do feel endless sympathy for the sites’ copywriters, who must somehow communicate the urgent need for $20 jars of artisanally-crafted pickles while striving to strike an effortless Everywoman chord.

Amy Sedaris

Source: SCOTT GRIES — Scott Gries/Animal Planet

Q: Is there anything not to love about Amy Sedaris?

A: No, there is not. She is a treasure and a shining light of goodness and cheer.

Amy Sedaris is best-known for the Comedy Central series Strangers with Candy; if you’ve never seen it, go and watch it right now. Seriously, right now. I’ll wait.

…back? Good. In addition to her (awesome) comic stylings, Amy has written several plays, a long-running advice column, and a book on entertaining. For a time, she also ran a cupcake and cheese ball business… out of her own kitchen. Basically, she sounds like a dream guest at parties. We would say that “cheese ball maker” is one of the strangest side gig titles we’ve seen, but then we come to:

Daniel Day-Lewis

Source: Miramax

Is there anything Sir Daniel Day-Lewis can’t do? Three Academy Awards (and going strong), four BAFTA awards, three SAG Awards… and he can probably make you a mean pair of loafers.

In 1996, DDL (that’s what I call him in my head, where we are besties) took a five-year hiatus from acting, pursuing woodworking. During that time, he became interested in shoe-making, and eventually apprenticed as a shoemaker in Italy. Somewhere, I hope some intrepid screenwriter is taking advantage of this opportunity to craft a film featuring a very handsome, talented maker of shoes…

2 Chainz


Confession: to the derision of Freelancers Union colleagues, I was not very familiar with 2 Chainz before writing this post (I am, admittedly, unspeakably lame). But after reading bits of his new, celebrated cookbook, the hilariously-named #MEALTIME, I think I’m officially a fan. 2 Chainz offers tasty-looking recipes with hip-hop superstar preparation tips that indicate the healthiest level of humor and irony imaginable. Some of my favorite examples:

  • "Call Fergie, invite her to watch a movie on Netflix. Once she accepts, start making green beans."
  • "Position yourself in a room surrounded by a handful of TVs playing 'Sports Center' with the sound off."
  • "If wearing a four-finger ring, carefully place it on a side table before starting to cook."

C’mon. That is just poetry.

Nick Offerman

Nick Offerman is best-known as the mustachioed Ron Swanson on the inimitable Parks and Recreation, a show which I am unashamed to say I have watched every single episode of. As Parks and Rec viewers know, Offerman’s character is a woodworking enthusiast – a trait which show writers must have built off the actor, who previously built sets for theatres in Chicago and is now an expert woodworker/maker. In fact, he heads a woodworker’s collective in Los Angeles, which he describes as “kick-ass.”

Kevin Costner

Remember when almost every movie had Kevin Costner in it – building fields, swimming in dystopian waterparks, delivering mail after the Apocalypse?

In addition to raising Superman as his Adopted Earth Dad in Man of Steel, Costner is determined to save the world is more concrete ways; namely, via an oil-water separation machine he bought the patent for in 1995, after describing himself as ‘appalled’ after the infamous Exxon-Valdez spill. His company’s machines were used in the attempted cleanup of the BP spill in the Gulf in 2010, leading to this rather breathless headline in BusinessWeek: BP Seriously Just Purchased 32 Oil Cleanup Machines from Kevin Costner.

James Franco

James Franco is so many hybrids, he doesn’t need slashes. He is one. He is all. He is the Alpha and Omega. He is simply: James Franco. How many grad school programs is he even enrolled in right now? Fifteen?

Look at James Franco’s Wikipedia page. He paints! He writes! He directs! He falls asleep in class! I can’t blame him; I’m tired just looking at this stuff. He is the ultimate dabbler; he’ll be gunning for your job next, friend.

**Most of these side gig-exploring celebrities should serve as an example to the rest of us – don’t let yourself be defined by one rigid career path. **Pursue what intrigues you, and let others worry about the boundaries of your capabilities. At the very least, you’ll become a more well-rounded individual (and if you’re Daniel Day-Lewis, you’ll never need a cobbler again).

* And here you thought we were too high-minded to revert to “Celebrities: they’re just like us.”