A 'Girls' star explains how $10,000 from a loan shark changed his life

“Girls” star Alex Karpovsky knows what it’s like to be a struggling artist.

The actor, who plays Ray on the HBO show lauded for its portrayal of modern New York City millennials, told Wealthsimple that he moved to New York after college to pursue dreams of becoming a filmmaker.

He quickly found that investing his own money — up to $15,000 per film — was the only way to produce his own work, and that consequently, he could barely make ends meet. He’d stay with his parents in upstate New York for months to amass the funds, but found the uncertainty discouraging.

He told Wealthsimple:

“I was 30 years old, and I’d see guys I went to high school with hanging out at the gas station, still living in the small town where we’d all grown up, and I’d think to myself, What’s really separating me from them? Just this delusional dream I’m holding on to? Ultimately, I decided I’d do whatever it took to get back to New York City. And that’s when I borrowed money from the loan shark.”

If debt can be separated into “good” and “bad,” personal loans from anyone you could describe as a “shark” falls into the latter category. That’s largely because of the egregiously high interest rates these lenders charge should you fail to make your payments. But for Karpovsky, the $10,000 he was able to borrow made all the difference.

He told Wealthsimple:

“My mum knows this loan shark in Lowell, Massachusetts, an old Russian woman who will give you money but charges crazy interest, like 20% a year. There are huge penalties if you don’t make your payments, and the interest can rise to 25%, even 30%. But when I was 30, I found myself desperate enough, and I went to her. My mum brokered the deal and got me $10,000, enough to buy me one more new start. In a way, that made the difference in my life.”

He was able to move back to New York and pay the loan back as planned through freelance editing jobs. He then landed a recurring role on “Girls,” a “lucky break” that put him in the black for years. However, he said, he’s always been “aware that the money’s going to run out.” He’s 40 now, and even after years of financial stability, he still keeps the struggling artist mindset: Where will the next paycheck come from?

This isn’t to say that personal loans, especially those from loan sharks, are generally a financially prudent option. If you can’t make your payments, these loans — much like missed credit card payments — can quickly balloon into unmanageable levels of high-interest debt. However, for Karpovsky, that “one new start” made all the difference.

Read the full story on Wealthsimple ยป

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