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The Working Actor

Is Moving to L.A. a Good Idea?

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Is Moving to L.A. a Good Idea?
DEAR MICHAEL:

I'm 18 and of course you've heard this a lot, but there's nothing else I want to do in this world but be part of a movie. I absolutely enjoy it and it makes me happy! I'm graduating in three months, but the problem is, I don't know if I can handle moving to L.A. by myself even though I have that burning desire to do so. I have done a couple of films here in Dallas, but nothing extravagant. Not too much work down here, so I was wondering what your advice would be about moving to L.A. after graduation?

Arman, Dallas

DEAR ARMAN:

We get this question a lot, and it never gets easier to address, because I promise you, there's no set answer.

On the one hand, you know the odds. You certainly can't move to L.A. counting on having any sort of career. It's competitive, and at times it can seem impossible. It can require a lot of patience -- more than you think. It requires having a good support job, so you don't go broke. Yes, there's more film work in L.A., but there are also more actors, so it's harder to even land an audition, let alone an acting gig. Yes, there are more agents, but it's hard to find one who wants to sign you in L.A. So for some people, it's better to stay where they are and build some credits and experience before testing the waters in a bigger market.

On the other hand, you're young. It's such a great time for crazy experiments like moving to L.A. for a while. Trust me, these decisions can get more complicated as you get older. Jobs, relationships, kids, and increased financial responsibilities can bog down your freedom to pick up and move around. Besides, what are you going to do, spend your life not doing things because they're long shots? What's the worst that can happen? You run out of money and go home. Meanwhile, you will have had a great adventure.

So you see, there's a case to be made for staying put and a case to be made for diving in and giving it a shot.

What should you do? I have no idea. That's right, I'm an advice columnist publicly admitting I don't know how to advise you -- because there's no reliable, scientific answer. (If there were, everyone would follow the same path.) But I'll say this: If you decide to make the move, do it wisely. Figure out what you're going to do for work. Cultivate job leads. If you can, arrange to stay with friends. Make sure you can afford a car. Be skeptical so you don't fall for scams; they're everywhere. And research, research, research. Read through previous columns and articles at backstage.com to see what others have written on this popular subject. If you go, go for the joy of the pursuit rather than for the result. That way, you can't lose.

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