…or stay in their smaller towns?

actor-move-to-los-angeles-new-york.jpgAre you wondering if moving to LA or NY would open up abounding opportunities to thrive in an acting career? Everyone hears stories of ordinary people growing up in smaller towns who transform into big, beautiful A-listers after moving to one of these entertainment Meccas. Think  Jennifer Lawrence, Matthew McConaughey, Meryl Streep, Matt Damon, Hillary Swank, Jack Nicholson, and the list goes on and on. Couldn’t you be added to that list with just a simple jump on a plane? While every actor’s journey is different, here are some things to consider regarding the particular geographic location you find yourself at this time.

The Benefits of Starting in Smaller Towns

Regardless of your location, it may take an aspiring actor several years before he or she is able to earn a living as an actor. Your hometown might be the ideal place to support your career in these formative times–amidst far less competition than you’d come across in the big cities. Many successful actors have nourished their acting roots in smaller-town community theaters, school plays, performance classes, and student films. True, smaller towns don’t have as many job opportunities or exposure, but with the comparatively little competition, you may find plenty of chances to get out there and do what you love to do–act! Remember, when you approach agents for representation, they are looking at your level of commitment, your experience as well as your level of talent, and look. So build your resume aiming to work with increasingly reputable theaters and projects. Think: a chess prodigy continually acquiring new skills and distinctions. You can search for well-established talent agencies in your area via SAG-AFTRA. And with a Casting Frontier profile, you can conveniently send agents the link to your actor profile–making it quick and easy for them to see why it’s worthwhile for them to represent you (no paper headshots or resumes necessary). If you chose to make that leap into the big cities, then you’ll be armed with the mastery you’ve cultivated in your hometown–ready to take on the enormous competition in LA or NY. The goal is to become a polished actor who producers and directors can count on to get it right, and is great to work with. They are the ones who will hire you, so make sure you are a value to them. 

Benefits of Moving to Los Angeles or New York

“If my career in show business hadn’t panned out I would probably be working today in Hamilton, Ontario at the Dofasco steel mill.” –Jim Carrey

There’s no doubt: LA and NY offer significantly more opportunities to perform than other cities across the U.S.. Will this translate to more chances to succeed? Hopefully! But remember the number of actors with whom you will be competing will be greatly increased. Screen Actor’s Guild actors in Hollywood alone have been estimated to be 110,000–the majority of which are actively looking for work, with approximately twenty percent landing roles in well-paying jobs. And yes, there are those share of actors who get “discovered;” take Miranda Cosgrove who was born in LA and was discovered by a talent agent at the age of three while singing and dancing in an LA restaurant. But those cases are far and few. Indeed, most actors have to hustle and commit to the craft over a period of years. They have to maintain a confident, upbeat attitude audition after audition. Keep in mind, the most talented actors may be ever so polished, and make all the right career moves, and still not end up making the kind of salary they dreamed of or reach the heights of fame to which they aspired. But then again, just go ahead and search your favorite actors on the IMDb website, and you’ll quickly notice a pattern of their work in “Los Angeles” and “New York” marking the transitions of their careers into the big time. But be sober before you make the move, have a financial plan going in, an expectation to strive relentlessly for your dream, and even a plan B up your sleeves. But then go out there and audition every chance you get. Make no mistake, there will be new actors breaking through each year, and hopefully you will be one of them.

The entertainment business is often a rocky, unpredictable road. But if you indeed cultivate your talent, skills, make the most of your look, tap into your authenticity, and are excited, motivated and ready to put yourself out there, build a team of supporters (agent, manager) to help you along in your career, then you will greatly increase your chances to succeed.