Jon Hamm understands the value of hard work—especially the benefits of toiling as a server or bartender.
“Working in a restaurant is a good life lesson for anybody,” he said in a recent article on Wealthsimple, an investment service. “My friend used to say no one should be able to work in Hollywood if they haven’t worked in a restaurant… you quickly learn what a difference a little bit of kindness and common courtesy can make for people.”
The Mad Men actor, 46, who as a teen worked his way up from busboy and dishwasher to waiter at a Greek restaurant in St. Louis, says he’s actually only just been a working actor as long as he worked in the food business—and thinks the job is simply good for building character.
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“It’s important to know how to treat people, and to learn how to respond when someone you’re working with is having a bad day,” he says. “Understanding other people’s problems is the cornerstone of the service industry, and it’s essential as an actor. Or whatever field you’re in.”
Before becoming one of TV’s hottest leading men, Hamm says he also spent time teaching drama at a high school in St. Louis, where Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Ellie Kemper was once one of his students. (“I was in ninth grade and he taught me the improv section of my theater class, and everyone loved him,” Kemper told a Kimmy Schmidt panel in 2015.)
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“I enjoyed it more than I thought I would,” says Hamm of teaching. “The students were great. The only downside is that teachers in general are pretty under-respected and underpaid. That’s a real drag. Investing in higher teacher salaries is one of the most obvious things we could do to improve life in our society.”