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New Yorkers dreaming of stardom pick up extra jobs while working towards fame

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HARLEM, Manhattan — You may recognize Hisham Tawfiq from your primetime television watching. He appears on "The Blacklist," a crime drama series on NBC.  By day, however, he’s playing a different role and living a double life.

Hisham Tawfiq appears on the crime series "The Blacklist" on NBC.

Hisham Tawfiq appears on the crime series "The Blacklist" on NBC.

“They kind of didn't understand why I was doing both.  They're like retire already.  You're on this hit show. Just retire.  But at the same time they do have a tremendous amount of respect for the line of work I do and my commitment to it,” explained Tawfiq when PIX11 asked what his actor friends thought of him working two tough jobs.

For 20 years, Tawfiq, a born and raised New Yorker, has been a proud member of the FDNY.  The humble actor with roots in Harlem said with his hit show Blacklist gearing up for Season 3,  he is ready for retirement from his firefighter duties.

Tawfiq was a former Marine, even a corrections officer at Sing Sing before becoming a Firefighter with the FDNY- all the while pursuing his passion – acting.  And he isn’t alone.

Alexander Sokovikov, who appeared on the ever so popular Netflix series, House of Cards isn’t just an actor either.  He also happens to drive a New York City yellow cab.

Struggling actors are all over New York City- many just waiting for that big break.  Laura Costagliola is also among them.

She quit her jewelry designing business in the early 90s to pursue the craft of acting.  She’s currently working Off Broadway, but has worked as an extra on a number of television shows.

“You have to pay the bills.  That's why I'm going back into the wholesale business because I need to supplement my income and you need that extra money and the only way you're gonig to get it is normal jobs,” said Costagliola.

New York City psychologist, Dr. J. Buzz Von Ornsteiner said  these actors are doing life the right way and setting long term goals that others may view as a fantasy.

“They're doing what they have to do to have emotional stability so they can pursue their dreams,” said Dr. Buzz.

For Hisham Tawfiq,  those years of chasing the dreams appears to be paying off.   Blacklist promoted him recently to a series regular.

“It's just a humbling experience living in both worlds and constantly reminded when I'm on set that that's not real.  That I do have something else that I'm doing at the time that kind of reminds me this is what life is,” said Tawfiq.