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My First Year in LA


My First Year in LA

Picture courtesy of Eric Demarcq Flickr

My First Year in LA

A year ago I wondered what this day would look like; a year from the day I moved to LA. As I celebrate my one-year anniversary in the City of Angels, it makes perfect sense to reflect on what’s transpired in the 365 days I’ve been here.

Months before I began plotting my move to LA from my native city of New York, I read I’ religiously. Naturally, I wanted to maximize my chances of pulling off this bold move successfully. So I paid particular attention to the post “What You Must Accomplish Your First Year in LA” On my anniversary of moving to LA, I took a look at how my first year measured up with the tips mentioned in that post.

Tip 1: Be realistic.

As the post predicted, I did not hit it big my first year in LA. I’m not a producer or a staff writer on a network or cable drama yet. But honestly, I didn’t expect to be (not to say a girl didn’t dream). I did however get acclimated to the city, found a cute apartment of my own (being a house guest is so 2012) and began temping for a major entertainment studio at the top of the year. I kicked off the summer by obtaining a steady income – I’m now a PA in the writers’ office for a hit network drama. Not too shabby for a new girl in town.

Tip 2: Attend a networking event.

I did this a few times. And like the post said, they were not life altering, career-changing events. But they did get me out of the house and helped me to meet like-minded people with similar goals. They also helped me find out about other events, groups and programs I didn’t know about before.

As a side note, before I even landed in LA, I registered for a writer’s workshop (Tawnya Bhattacharya rocks!) to help hone my craft. Even though I didn’t make it into the writers programs this year, taking the class not only strengthened my writing skills, but it also led me to four amazing peers I’ve now formed a tight knit writers group with. I’m beyond grateful to have them as a foil for my work, motivation to keep churning stuff out, and just people to strategize with (and sometimes vent to) who get it. Had I not taken the workshop, I never would have met them. And always having new material will continue to propel me in pursuit of my career.

Tip 3: Construct a hit list.

Imagine my amazement when I figured out how to get in contact with a high-level producer on one of my favorite TV dramas and he actually got back to me! I find if you approach them the right way, most people are happy to meet you for coffee or at least answer some questions during a lengthy phone conversation. Back in New York, I dreamed of being able to pick the brains of writers and producers on various shows and now I’ve not only made contact with some of them, but I also work in an office with a few too. While it’s generally better to be able to say “so-and-so referred me,” as long as you don’t come off as someone looking for a handout, a stalker, or someone who doesn’t have a clue about the business and how it works, the people on your “hit list” should be happy to talk with you.

Tip 4: Know what you want.

I came to LA for one thing and one thing only – to become a staff writer for dramatic television. That clarity helps give me the “dogged persistence” needed to pursue my goal, which I believe consists of equal parts practicality and bravery. Staying focused is a lot easier when you have a concrete goal. And although I have a ways to go before I can claim the ultimate prize (my name after “Written By” during a show’s opening credits), I know undoubtedly that being in a writer’s office here in LA brings me far closer to it.

In Conclusion

This life-altering leap has not occurred for me without its challenges. I definitely have my “WTF-am-I-doing-how-can-I-possibly-make-this-happen?” moments. The process of “breaking in” – not only into the industry but also a new city – can be wearing and there are definitely days where I feel utterly defeated. But the moments where I can see tangible proof that I’m making headway definitely outweigh the bad times tenfold.

So, was picking up and leaving the only city I’ve ever known to move across country all by my lonesome worth it?


In the last year, I’ve accomplished things I once only dreamed about and I’m overjoyed to know I’m way stronger, driven and resourceful than I ever realized. If you’ve been talking about moving to LA but haven’t done it yet because you don’t know how it will turn out, here’s a newsflash: You don’t.

But that’s no reason not to go for it. Because what’s certain is how it will turn out if you don’t try. Like the saying goes, “Fortune favors the brave.” Personally, my fear of regret outweighs my fear of failure. And looking back on my first year in LA and the decision to move here, I can say wholeheartedly I have no regrets at all.

Jamila Daniel

Jamila Daniel is an LA transplant from New York pursuing a career in writing for dramatic television. You can follow her journey on Twitter here.

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