As I look back on my first month in Los Angeles, I realize that I am very blessed for the good situations, good friends and good advice that have surrounded me. I will preface my story by saying that things worked extremely well for me in this past month due to a few things:
- I had lived and worked in LA for a summer in college
- I had friends and colleagues who were already here and helping
- I had planned for this month for over a year before I moved to LA
In the summer of 2013, I had the extraordinary opportunity to intern at a respected talent agency in Hollywood. There, I learned the in’s and out’s of the business while meeting people who have made careers and lives within the business and loved every second of it.
Not only did I firmly set my determination to get involved in the entertainment industry, but I also had the opportunity to learn how to live in the city that is over 770 times the size of the town I grew up in.
Talk about culture shock.
This experience gave me the confidence and knowledge that I needed to make sure that not only this month would come, but that it would be a positive and worth-while experience for me. I planned to move to Los Angeles right after my college graduation. I would pack up my Pontiac with my entire life, stay with my generous host of the past summer until I found an apartment and began a life anew.
But, just like the best-laid plans of the mice, the best-laid plans of this man went awry as well. I was having trouble lining up housing, I had lost contact with many individuals back in California and my money situation wasn’t the best in the world. But then came a perfect opportunity. A man who took the same leap was making a movie in my hometown: a local filmmaker came home to shoot his first feature film.
I sent him an email and talked to him about potential employment/internship opportunities. I got the chance to be a crew member on a feature film, learn what it was like on a professional set and meet those who were living the life I was hoping to lead one day.
In fact, the filmmaker who gave me the opportunity ended up becoming my roommate in LA, helping me meet people and learn about the business. Just because the best-laid plans often go awry does not mean that the product of the madness can’t be amazing as well. Me and my newly made professional colleague and friend moved into an apartment in The Valley, began looking for work and finding similar interests.
Being an actor, I naturally wanted to look for as many ways to get my face out there and perform in any way. On my three-day drive to my home, I saw a posting about open auditions for a seasonal job at an LA amusement park. I made an appointment and crossed my fingers. The audition was just two days after I arrived. I was tired and clueless but ready to see what a “Hollywood audition” was all about.
This was, by no means, a typical audition or a typical job. However, I auditioned well and was set on the path of employment. I was absolutely thrilled.
It was my first LA audition and I nailed it.
Now, I’m not sure I believe in luck. I am more a believer that “luck” is when opportunity meets preparedness. I had spent years training and preparing for moments like these, for auditions like these, for a life like this. Moving to LA gave me the opportunity for my preparedness.
Now, that job has yet to begin. So that mean’s that I have been blowing through my savings for a month or so until everything catches up. Even then, the job is only for a short period of time with the potential to gain future employment. Money gets tight: fast. Even when you first get here, you will drop money like it is nothing. New registration, gas, new vehicle title, car maintenance, gas, apartment deposit, apartment rent, furniture, gas, food, gas, food, gas.
Within the past month I have also applied to part-time positions all over The Valley and Hollywood. I have had a few interviews, and fewer job offers. Zero, in fact. I have found that it has been easier for me as an actor than it has been for a 22-year-old, college grad looking for a part-time job.
But don’t worry. There are hundreds of thousands of people in the same position as I, and the ones willing to give a bit more of their time for the job is going to get that job over me. However, because I have saved some money AND have some income coming in soon, I feel comfortable taking my time to learn my new area and get some acting in. If I did not have the amusement park job, I would be searching for the “survival job” much harder.
Speaking of acting, my first month has proved to be lucrative for my career: more so for the experience than for my pocketbook. I have starred in student films, been background (extra) on a few feature films and short films and have begun writing a short film of my own with a fellow 22-year-old, college grad in the same position as myself.
I have learned to eat cheap, yet healthy. To find fun and people to have fun with, yet still sustain my focus on my career. I hike and run Runyon Canyon in the Hollywood Hills with my roommate twice a week. I frequent local coffee shops and cafés. I go to movie screenings and look for opportunities that I wouldn’t find in the Midwest. But all of these things happen because I took the leap, moved out here, and now I’m able to live the life that I want to live.
A bit of advice for anyone looking to move to LA to look for a career, themselves or anything at all: plan for your dreams, but give yourself small, attainable goals that will lead you to that. Don’t have a car? Get one. Don’t know anyone in LA? Come visit and intern for a summer if you can swing it. Don’t feel like your acting is good enough? 1. Have confidence in yourself and 2. Take some classes and exercise that muscle.
90% of making it in LA is how you carry yourself. Be proud of who you are. Be happy with where life has put you. Prepare yourself and look for opportunity, because that is where you can make your dreams come true.