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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Local Hire

You hear it every day.  A fresh young actor decides that this small town just can't hold him or her anymore.  They need to bust out of this place and make a name for themselves in the big city.  New York.  Los Angeles.  Chicago.  Miami.

And for every one of those young hopefuls that gets on a bus with a one-way ticket, there is another bus going back to the small town with their downtrodden doppelganger...a little older, a more world-weary and possibly a little bit wiser.

Where did they go wrong?  Well, it might have been that first trip.

Now, if you've already bought your ticket and packed your bags, don't despair.  I've got plenty of advice for you.  That's a lot of what this blog addresses.  How to build an acting career in LA or NY.  Don't worry.  I'll get back to it.

But for the rest of you, stop and assess before you jump on the nearest west (or east) -bound train.  Or for you international types, before you step aboard that 747 or hijack a transatlantic steamer or something.  I understand the allure of LA or NY.  I get it.  But it may not be the best route for you, at least to begin with.

There is a lot of work out there for actors.  Local commercials, location film work, student or low-budget films, VoiceOver work, presenters for conventions, etc., etc.  And most of that work can be found...guess what?...right where you are.  No long trip, no moving trucks, no awkward camp-outs in a friend of a friend's living room.

The great thing about a local market is that there's less competition.  Less work?  Sure, sometimes, but the percentages may be working more to your advantage in a smaller market like Dallas versus a huge market like Los Angeles.  And you get to build up your resume for the time that it feels right to take the plunge.

I'm not discouraging anyone from taking a risk.  Let's face it, choosing acting as a career is already a fairly large gamble.  But then again, so is life, right?  What I'm suggesting is that we don't do things blindly, without considering all of our options.

Take time and assess.  You'll ultimately choose what's right for you, if you're staying grounded and connected.  And if you're not (or already haven't)?  That's okay, too.  Life is one lesson after another, and all of them are ultimately good.


  1. Can you point a girl in the direction of how to discover local acting opportunities?

  2. For local acting opportunities, first do a Google search for "talent agency" in your city. Getting a local agent would be the ideal situation. If there isn't one, next target universities, colleges and community colleges that have film or video programs/classes. Contact them & see how they seek for local talent. Finally, there's always Craigslist! wise about how you answer those ads... :)

  3. From a conversation I had with a fellow actor, he told me that if an actor is not in a union that person is useless in Los Angeles (since it is more industry-driven). I don't know if the same thing is true for NY, or if it is true at all in any circumstance. What is your opinion about this?

    I seem to find many gigs on Craigslist when I look them up in the LA and the NYC sections, though. Still, I have no plans to move to the Big City until I get a union membership. Plus, there are many opportunities in Portland, OR.

  4. Short but sweet advice from a SAG member. If you decide to go on that "One way bus ticket or flight destination to Los Angeles or New York" I can personally tell you to: Please- follow this advice. Go on that 1 way trip with an identical and just as motivated friend. History of team ups making it are- Ben Affleck/Matt Damon, Tom Cruise/picked up @ the airport by Sean Penn, Noah Wyle/acting friends in same apartment, Get it? You need an identical comradery, a friend n the same situation, trying for auditions, etc... not necessarily to (make it), but it sure is a whole lot easier and less lonlier when your approaching your craft 24/7/365 in a new large city with a fellow actor than going at it ALONE!. Even Michale Douglas roomed with Danny Devito in N.Y., before the both of them made it. Same goes for Dustin Hofman. Two tackling Los Angeles is much easier and constantly motivating than it is for one. If going out to L.A. and trying acting alone, like Brad Pitt did, then make friends fast, in the same profession. A fellow actor. Not outsiders. The rest of any advice I will certainly leave to Mr. Hopkin, who gives out just excellent direction, details and more...