I won’t lie to you, attempting to write this article I was fresh out of ideas. Normally, my ideas come to me during a conversation with a friend or by some weird event that takes place in my week and sparks interest in my head about what it all means. This week, no bueno, silence, I’m fresh out of inspiration. That might offer some insight into my headspace of late; I’m clearly not feeling especially inspirational. So, I did what anyone would do in times of crisis, I sent dramatic, wordy texts to friends, largely in caps locks. Things like—-
‘SOS! IN CRISIS! SEND HELP! NEED ADVICE FOR ARTICLE/ WHAT AM I GOING TO WRITE ABOUT? CALL ME NOW!!!!!.’
You know, normal things you text your friends.
Given the severity of my text, I then received phone calls. Mostly from friends stuck in thick LA traffic kindly calling me to talk me out of my dark hole. These conversations started off as general chats about our lives but being actors in LA, we discussed acting. We discussed the good and the bad, they told me stories, some funny and some crazy. These five different friends all offered a unique insight into what it is like to move to LA and try to build an acting career in this often strange and wacky city. During these five conversations I learnt something, I don’t need to come up with an idea for my article, I just needed to listen.
The people in my life, in your life, your barista, your uber driver, anyone can give you insight and advice if you just listen, if you are willing to listen and find the magic. In fact, if you really listen (and take notes in your phone because you are desperate for creative inspiration) then you might even be able to compile an entire article out of this wisdom.
So this month my article is ‘Five Things You Should Know About Moving to LA to Act.’ These tips aren’t really mine, although I do agree with them. These tips are words of sound and solid advice from a few of my friends, all actors of different ages and genders from different backgrounds at varying stages in their careers, all living in LA. I won’t take credit for their good ideas, but like I will if I have to you know? As always, I hope this advice helps you and guides you, whether you are considering a move to the city of angels, another big city or are staying exactly where you are. I hope it reminds you to be present, to take risks and to listen to for the magic.
‘Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force.’
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
One of my best friends has found success in social media after she began posting comedy
videos about her life in LA. She quickly gained a significant following and her unique style and business savvy brand skills have allowed her to forge a creative career in LA. Her advice is clear, think outside the box when it comes to your career. What do you have tooffer that no one else does? Or, at the very least, what can you do that no one else is doing? You don’t have to be the best but you do have to DO. The industry is constantly growing and evolving with current trends so showcase what makes you unique. Don’t wait for someone to ask you.
Any time I speak to my best friend Margot and mention any kind of creative block or struggle, she will always say to me, ‘are you in class right now?’ Margot believes that all the usual struggles of pursuing acting aside, fighting for auditions and your agent to call you back, getting the right head shot and the constant uncertainty, none of that really matters unless you are good and constantly working to be better. And damn, she’s not wrong. Taking class in LA provides you the chance to act weekly, to focus and work on your acting but also an opportunity to network and have a community. Actors need other actors; creativity does not exist in isolation. We need each other to create and to support, the friendships and relationships between actors are special and unique and that cannot be undervalued, especially in a town like LA that can often be harsh and unforgiving. No matter your training or on set experience, get yourself into an acting class and commit to the growth process you will undoubtedly have.
DON’T MOVE TO LA
I’m not kidding. My friend Al, a working actor for over 20 years in LA called me and wanted me to write an article to actors advising them against moving to LA.
I argued at first but then he explained further, I realized it is pretty solid advice. A lot of actors I know have left LA and moved to cities like Vancouver and Atlanta because there is a significant amount of acting work there now. Except unlike LA, there are fewer actors, meaning more opportunities and less competition, not to mention a lower cost of living. This has proven to be an excellent decision for so many actors that I personally know, and many actors that my friend Al knows too. Many of these actors struggled for countless years in LA and now have successful careers in other cities. I would never advise anyone against moving to LA however it is worth the consideration when other cities outside of LA are offering significant tax breaks to shoot there and many productions are moving away to save costs.
INTRODUCTIONS ARE KEY
I have long described LA as the Olympics of acting. There is a lot of talent here, a lot of competition and as my friend told me getting ahead can often mean knowing someone. Not just for the acting world, even getting a part time bartending job can be incredibly difficult in this town without knowing someone. If your agent or friend is willing, having someone send an email on your behalf allows you to not only to be noticed but also to be taken seriously. In that way, networking and connections prove incredibly valuable in LA. However if you don’t have an agent or know anyone in LA that can help you, don’t despair. I personally have gotten representation from sending cold emails and have even gotten auditions from the same. However don’t be afraid to reach out to the people in your network and ask for help, the worst that can happen is they can say no.
ENJOY THE JOURNEY
My friend called me and offered this advice in no uncertain terms. I actually took notes in my phone as we talked because I knew there was magic in his words as he reflected on the past few years of his life since moving to LA to act. He told me that attempting to forge a career in LA, as an actor is the hardest industry in the world to be in, it challenges you in every way, psychically, mentally and emotionally. It is not just LA competitive, it’s world wide competitive. It won’t happen overnight so you might as well enjoy yourself, especially the part where you learn and grow into the person you are supposed to be because that is the important part. I reflected on this and knew there was so much truth there because I know that moving to LA or any city to act is a huge gamble. I know how important it is to be prepared for the likely failures and hardships, however despite all this, the pursuit of your dreams is a worthy one. It is also a pursuit that many people do not have the courage nor constitution to withstand, this then will inevitably change you and shape you. Your job is to notice and appreciate this personal growth and turn it into art.
‘When comfort ends, life begins.’