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My First Year as an Actor in LA…

Acting

My First Year as an Actor in LA…

Picture Courtesy of Neil Kramer

My First Year as an Actor in LA…

Last August I made the biggest decision of my life thus far. I packed up everything that would fit in my car and had the road trip of a lifetime heading from New York City to Los Angeles…

Last August I made the biggest decision of my life thus far. I packed up everything that would fit in my car and had the road trip of a lifetime heading from New York City to Los Angeles. I’ve wanted to be an actress for as long as I could remember and wondered what it would be like to follow my dreams in LA. I received so much support from my family and friends and was going to live with a friend, so goodbye to wondering “what if” and time to jump out my comfort zone.

The first few weeks were super exciting! I found an apartment and my transfer for my job in New York went through to a location out here. I registered for every background casting agency that I could find and audited some acting and improv studios to find out where I wanted to study.

I even landed a commercial/print agent through a connection I made back home! I hit the ground running and went out on as many auditions as my schedule would allow. I soon learned that working a part time job in retail while trying to follow what I came out  here to do was both financially draining and not leaving open enough time for me to work on any projects.

My agent sent me out on auditions that I thought went very well. Commercial auditions are so quick that you don’t even have time to over think any part of it. It’s possible I wasn’t getting sent out as much as I would have liked because I was only working with one headshot. Already having more expenses than I can handle, who has the money to get new photos?

My suggestion is to get a friend who has a great camera who can take a couple of photos that you can add to your online profile on a casting site. My submissions through LA Casting and Actors Access landed me a couple student films. Having a few films under my belt should help me put together a demo reel. Live performance is my first love and being a theater actor I have no record of any past performances. Getting a theatrical agent to represent me in film and television would take some work.

In between it all to make some extra money I did the all too familiar background actor work. Long hours on set but still exciting to be in the midst of it all even as an extra. I picked up some production assistant gigs and signed up for paid audience work.  Getting paid cash to sit for a few hours and clap while “acting” fully engaged is the easiest job you can do.

Fast forward to almost making the year mark out here is when I began to really question my career choice. How many times have I wanted to quit? I’m going to go ahead and count 2 times this month alone! I constantly ask myself if leaving my home where my family and friends were even worth it all. My hours at my part time job were being cut, I couldn’t afford to take the acting classes that I’d dreamed I would be in by this time and I was dropped by my agent.

Being let go by my agent broke my spirit a bit. I had an audition two days after it happened and it was beyond awful. I am so glad that this wasn’t a taped audition. I bombed because my head was in a terrible space and I lacked focus. The whole experience made me remind myself that when one door closes, another will open. I believe questioning your creative career path is normal but it is important to keep pushing.  You have to remember why you started and why you love the craft. Getting up each day and doing something in the path of your dreams, no matter how small it may seem definitely helps. I practice eliminating the word “can’t” from my vocabulary on a daily basis.

I’ve learned a lot about myself on this journey and I am still learning. I’ve learned how strong I really am and how much I have accomplished in this short time is something to be proud of. I try not to compare Los Angeles to home and take in the good of my new surroundings. New York has better pizza and bagels but I shouldn’t remind you everyday right?

Los Angeles is the city where I chose to follow my dreams. It is a new place to explore and network to meet other creative minded people. There are still days that are difficult where hours of Netflix are my best friend, though I equate this as homework for the actor but there are good days too. What makes me most happy are the days that are new and exciting and I realize that where I am is exactly where I’m supposed to be.

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Nekia Martin

Nekia Renee Martin is native of Brooklyn, NY who moved to LA a year and a half ago to pursue acting. Theater is her first love but she is looking to get into film, TV and voiceover work. She writes a blog about her experience in LA as well her journey getting here driving cross country at Nekiasjourney.tumblr.com.

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