College by Coast: A Casting Director Weighs in

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Photo Source: Photo by Tim Easley on Unsplash

In my last article, we explored discerning how you perceive yourself and sharing your strengths. Today’s article is about where geographically those strengths may best be pursued. While it is still true to a point that pursuing film/TV is best in L.A. and theater/musical theater in New York, self-taping and the rise of filming in regional areas has lessened the urgency of the big coastal move.

For the graduating acting student making the decision or working artist looking to make a move, there several factors to consider.

What do I want to do?
As an actor, you can do it all. Look at your strengths objectively and what brings you joy, then research the marketplace to zero in on a coast or region.

What is my temperament?
Do you need beaches and good hikes to balance the day or does the vibrant city bustle feed your soul?

How much does it cost?
This is a big one. The cost of living will be tricky for some. Will I need a reliable car? Do I need to find roommates? How will I pay for everything? Get creative and look at how to monetize the additional things you love. That day job for extra income should not drain you creatively as an artist nor should it be separate from what you love. It’s usually that side thing or hobby you find really easy to do, that you are drawn to but maybe think it doesn’t add value.

READ: New York vs. Los Angeles: How to Choose

Perhaps you host the best parties for your friends, a natural MC, so look into party planning on your terms. Or you love children and happen to have a penchant for science; find an afterschool program you can join. Maybe you make the best lattes and write songs, so find a coffee house with an open mic night or pitch it to your favorite local spot.

Do I want to be an actor forever?
Many actors have varied and eclectic careers. Some become writers, producers, directors, casting directors, etc., either in the industry or outside it. Do not think for a second you have given up anything. We all wear many hats and bring much to the table. It all matters and it’ll all serve you.

Am I listening to myself?
Including time for proper care of your mind, spirit, and body goes hand-in-hand with change. We can be tough on ourselves and take on other people’s suggestions and baggage as our own rather than listening to that little voice telling us we’re on track. Protect your self-esteem.

While there are many personal and professional details to consider, I hope this will at least help focus the decision. In acting, your work is moment-to-moment, thought-to-thought. In moving and contributing to building a career, think in terms of where you want to end up and go there now, not when the opportunity presents itself or long after roots have been set elsewhere. You create the opportunity. It is fine and responsible to take a little time to raise the funds necessary to make your next move. But keep your eye on the prize and be open to how it unfolds. Wherever you choose to set up shop as an artist, it is sure to grow a rich and meaningful life.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Caroline Liem
Caroline Liem is a casting director, teacher/coach based in Los Angeles. For the past 20 years, she has cast films, studios features, television pilots, and TV series. She is faculty at Pace University and UT Austin and teaches locally at the Village.
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