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Secret Agent Man: Welcome to L.A. Not?

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Secret Agent Man: Welcome to L.A. Not?

So you're thinking of moving to Los Angeles? That's terrific. On behalf of the entertainment industry, I'd like to welcome you to our fair city with open arms. We don't have enough actors here, so it always thrills us when one more shows up.

When you arrive at the airport, please remember to check in at our Actor Integration Booth. It's located in the lobby of Terminal Four. The nice lady there will present you with an orientation package. Inside, you'll find tons of helpful information, including the times and locations for your six guaranteed agent meetings. You'll also find a laminated identity card with your headshot on it. Please carry this card with you at all times. It will entitle you to substantial discounts at stores and restaurants. If there's anything else you need, feel free to call our hotline at any time, day or night. And we hope you enjoy the fruit basket waiting for you at your new apartment.

Ah, isn't that a heartwarming fantasy? If only life were that easy. Unfortunately this town is a magnet for every performer and beauty queen out there with dreams of fame and glory. Some of these people are genuinely talented and committed to the craft of acting. The rest are cattle.

From an agent's perspective, it feels like this whole country is built on a weird slant: Every city tilts down toward Los Angeles. This means that sooner or later, all actors in the country will lose their grip and slide down to our borders. And because we don't have walls here, everyone gets in. This leads to higher rents and more traffic. It also makes it harder for agents to find actors who are the real deal.

To alleviate this problem, I've made a proposal to the mayor's office. I feel there should be a screening process before an actor is allowed to move here. I mean, think about it: Actors have to audition to get into schools and theatre companies, right? So why not have them audition for the right to live in Hollywood? Once a month, we could have American Idol-style auditions. There'd be a panel of rotating judges made up of A-list talent like Steven Spielberg, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Jodie Foster. Actors would have to perform two monologues: one classic and one contemporary, and actors who don't know the difference would be immediately eliminated. The best would be allowed to stay; the rest would have to go home. This process would keep out the wannabes and allow the talented to get the opportunities they deserve.

But because the mayor's office hasn't gotten back to me yet, I'm sure 2008 will bring yet another wave of immigrant actors to our shore. And if you're one of the many who are seriously thinking of moving here, let me give you advice that will serve you well: Don't worry about getting an agent. Actors who move to L.A. start looking for representation before they even have a place to live. Trust me, there's no rush. We're not going anywhere.

Your first priority should be to create a home for yourself. Get to know the town. Make friends. And most important, get into a good class. That way you can keep working on your skills while pursuing your career. Being in class will also help you meet other actors who have been here a lot longer than you. Hopefully, some of them will become your friends, and they'll be able to provide you with information and support. Consider joining a theatre company or a comedy group for the same reasons.

L.A. is a tough town, but it can also be a great place to live. Right turns on red lights are legal, and it never snows. So get in while you still can. I expect a call from the mayor's office any day now.

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