1 Actor on His Move From L.A. to ATL—Where the Agencies Pitched Him

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Photo Source: Courtesy John Winscher

Ah, Los Angeles. The place where the climate is mild, the culture diverse, and the actors rampant. “It’s so saturated in L.A.,” says John Winscher. And he should know. The former carpenter headed west to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Hollywood in the early 2000s and stayed after graduation to pursue an acting career. But he quickly learned it wouldn’t be easy. He was able to build up a résumé full of non-union projects, student films, commercials, and motion capture work, “but I hit a ceiling there because I still couldn’t get with a big agency or manager,” he explains. “Getting the agent in L.A. was this great mystery everyone would talk about but no one seemed to have an answer on how to do it. We would buy a stack of headshots, attach résumés, and do ‘blind submissions’ only to hear that the assistants would take the envelopes and toss them directly into the trash without opening them.”

So after years of only being able to book what he calls “minor league work,” and with the buzz of the entertainment industry boom in Atlanta—and the encouragement of a friend who had already moved southeast—Winscher decided to travel cross-country and try his luck in Georgia. Before he even arrived in the South, he could tell things were going to be different. “As soon as I had made up my mind to come I started contacting agents. And on my way across the country, I was already in communication. I had one agency pitching themselves to me! The complete opposite of everything I experienced in L.A.,” he says. “Right off the bat I started getting auditions that were bigger than anything I’d ever had, and within a couple months, easily had more than I ever had in L.A. in those 10 years, and all for major television shows and studio pictures.” His résumé now boasts a recurring role on the new series “Containment,” a co-starring role on the CW’s hit show “The Vampire Diaries,” and a supporting role in the upcoming feature film “Faceless.”

Not only were the agencies and roles more available to him in Atlanta, but Winscher notes another difference about working in the South. “Coming from an actor’s point of view, there’s far more mutual respect out here via the communication. There’s just a consideration that you feel about your time,” he says. He credits this to both a genuine Southern hospitality and the mere fact that Atlanta is a much smaller pond than its West Coast counterpart. “In L.A., I understand why agents and casting directors are cold and coming off like they’re downright allergic to actors, because there’s tens of thousands of [actors] knocking on their doors, stopping them on the streets; it’s got to be pretty hectic for them. You feel like you’re harassing anybody when you’re in communication with them, like you should be apologizing for interrupting their day.” The fact is that L.A. agents don’t necessarily need to represent anybody without experience—and the same L.A. credits and training means much more in the Hollywood of the South.

But Winscher would advise against going straight to L.A., and facing the same challenges he did. “Stay wherever you are until your résumé, your reel, and things like that are built up enough and then go to L.A. or New York,” he says. “Do whatever work is in the area and then go to L.A., so you’re not just another sucker getting off the bus with no résumé and a dream.” Let’s just hope that Southern hospitality stays even as more actors make their way to the Georgia capital!

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