What to do before you go to New York or LA to start your acting career
QUESTION: Should I go to New York to start my acting career?
I live in Virginia and I am about to attend an acting school here but I’m not sure it would be better to just go to New York to really improve my craft and then go to LA or should I just take classes here and then go to LA?
See below a list of 7 things you will want to do before you go to New York or LA to start your acting career.
But before I show you the list let me preface it first. I would take classes where you are first. Get your financial situation squared away, which means get some money saved up and see if you can get at least one stream of passive income going. Start getting some experience also there in Virginia where you live. Here are some things you can do if you live in a place other than New York or LA:
Get some experience, so that when you do finally move, you will feel more comfortable in auditions.
So my advice is: Don’t go yet. When you do decide, you will base your decision on what kind of actor you want to become. If you are in love with theatre acting then New York is the place to be. If on the other hand you want television and film acting, then Los Angeles will have more opportunities. However, going to NY doesn’t mean you can do television and film just as going to LA doesn’t mean you can’t do theatre. But still, my recommendation would be to stay where you are for the moment and follow the 7 things you see listed here below.
Another thing you should do is to learn about the acting business BEFORE you go to New York or LA. Why is this so important? Because first of all, if you play your cards right, you will already have contacts and agents and casting directors who already know who you are before you arrive and who will be expecting to see you. That’s something that 99% of the people don’t know how to do. It’s one of the things I hammer away at in the home-study course.
Here are 7 things you need to consider before moving to New York or LA to start your acting career:
1) take classes where you are to start understanding what acting is all about and getting some experience. There are lots of benefits to taking acting classes. Don’t think that you can go to LA, the Olympics of acting and think that you can get by just because “you think you can make it”. You won’t. Learn the craft. Get in classes and stay there forever. The best Hollywood actors continue to hone their craft. Why shouldn’t you?
2) learn how to audition. There are audition technique classes you can take as well. Lot’s of people make the mistake of thinking that auditioning and acting are one in the same. They are similar, but not the same. Auditioning is like the serve in tennis and acting on set or on stage is like the volley. You need to know how to serve in order to get to the volley. They are two different actions that you need to know how to do in order to be a good tennis player. Being good at serving doesn’t necessarily mean you will be a good tennis player, nor does being good at volleying. You need to know how to do both! Here are some tips on how to handle the audition situation. What you won’t find in that link are things like how to break down a scene, how to learn the beats of the scene, making choices, ecc. You need to know those things and you can get them in audition technique classes. We cover those things too in The Acting Career Quick Start Home-Study Course.
3) start saving up some money. Figure that you will need a year’s worth of living expenses before you go to New York. You don’t want to get there and have to work full time in a job that doesn’t leave you time to focus on your acting career and go out and audition. If you’re going to do that, you might as well stay where you are. In the home-study course, I talk about budgeting. There is an entire module dedicated to budgeting properly and finding extra money “laying around” that you didn’t realize you had.
Here is some advice about that as well:
Usually done by those who want to start an acting career and think they know it all: 10 ways to waste money at the beginning of your acting career
Again, we spend an extensive module in The Home-Study Course talking about budgeting and where you can find the extra money you need to fund your acting career.
4) try and get at least one stream of passive or residual income set up before you go to New York. This will give you more freedom when you get there. In other words, you will have money saved up like we said before in point number 3, plus you will have a stream of money coming in that all you have to do is do some light work (a few hours per week on your own schedule) to maintain. In the home-study course I teach different ways that you can do that, which aren’t as difficult as you might think. It takes time and effort, but it is doable and some of my students are doing it and so am I, so I know it is possible. You just have to know how to do it. I spend a couple of modules working on that too.
5) Learn the business of acting before you go. Know what to expect when you get to New York. Build relationships before you go. Learn the beat. Know what a typical day will look like for you if you have the freedom to not have to work. Know what you will be doing each day to work on your career and get it started and how to do it.
6) Do your homework about the city you want to go to work in. Do thorough research about:
the landscape of the acting market in the city
who the players are
acting career associated costs
timing for auditions
the overall feel of the city
I also cover this very thoroughly in one of the 24 modules of The Acting Career Quick Start Home-Study Course. It is essential information to know before you go. One of the reasons why many actors who move from their town to New York or LA never end up making it is because they didn’t do their homework FIRST. They get to the city and didn’t realize what they were getting themselves into. The result, they end up finding a job that has nothing to do with acting and then end up giving up their acting career dream or they go back home and say to themselves, “well, I tried”. It doesn’t have to be that way!
7) One thing I will add here is that it is necessary to not feel alone. That means that you will want to surround yourself with people who have similar goals. Someone who has a difficult time dragging himself to the gym will have an easier time and it will be more fun if he has a workout partner who will help him, motivate him and from whom he can learn tips and techniques from, with whom he can share ideas and so on. For an actor it is the same. A guy named Ben asked me a question about this some time ago.
Wes Cantrell is an Acting Career Quick Start Home-Study Course graduate who did all the things I mentioned above. It is possible, but it is easier if you have guidance, otherwise figuring it all out for yourself can be challenging. Wes is the first one on the list of people you see here on this page:
I hope that answers your question.
If you need me to help you figure out what to do before you move to New York or LA to start your acting career, I’m here. If you want to figure it out by yourself, then by all means that is your prerogative, but don’t take too long. Time is passing you by and I would hate for you to miss out on fulfilling your dream!