If you’re an actor who’s ready to take the leap and make NYC your acting home base, you might feel nervous about making some rookie mistakes when you arrive. It’s understandable—you want to avoid as many missteps as possible so you can enjoy the city and hit the ground running to move your career forward as quickly as possible.
I meet a lot of actors, including those just starting out in New York, and I’ve noticed some common slip-ups that NYC newbies often make. Since we actors are truly part of one big tribe, why not learn from your predecessors so you don’t have to make the same gaffes? Here’s are six mistakes to avoid when you move to the Big Apple.
1. Moving to NYC without any savings.
One thing many actors new to the city can underestimate is just how expensive it is to live here. Honestly, some days it feels like $20 bills are flying out of my pocket at warp speed! Prepare yourself for sticker shock and give yourself a financial buffer with some savings before you arrive.
2. Not getting a survival job that’s flexible.
Since the city is so expensive, finding a survival job that pays the bills while you’re building your career is super important! Don’t waste your time in a job that isn’t flexible schedule-wise. Avoid 9-5 salaried jobs as they’re the least flexible, and instead look for shift work or jobs that are project-based.
3. Making “finding an agent” your first priority.
If you’re new in town, my advice is to start meeting casting directors rather than agents. CDs are the people who can actually get you jobs, and agents will ask you how many casting directors know your work before they start sending you out. Save yourself some time and start building those valuable relationships first.
4. Not being specific with your goals.
If there is only one piece of advice I could give you, it would be to please get super specific about your goals. I spent the first part of my career running around like a chicken without a head, auditioning for everything and anything, taking all kinds of random classes and sending mass mailings to little effect. Once I narrowed my focus and got clear about my goals, I saved time, money, and my sanity...and I started booking a lot more work!
5. Neglecting your craft.
Moving to NYC is exciting and there’s a lot to take care of to set yourself up for the long haul. I recommend that once you have shelter and a job, go find an acting class you love. New York is a highly competitive market, so you need to bring your A game to every opportunity. Work out those acting muscles on a regular basis, get to know your colleagues and start building your very own NYC acting community!
6. Neglecting the rest of your life.
It’s great to be laser focused on a goal, but you can prioritize your career and enjoy the many other things that life and the city have to offer! Go to a museum, enjoy Central Park, befriend people who aren’t in the business. NYC is one of the greatest cities in the world—take the time to get to know your new home and enrich the rest of your life, too.
There is so much to love about your #actorlife, and I celebrate your moxie for taking this big step to pursue your dreams!
Actor and web designer Amy Russ helps actors showcase their cast-ability, personality, and professionalism with simple, effective, and affordable websites. Find out the crucial “5 First Steps” to creating a website that stands out in her free video training.
Check out Backstage’s New York City audition listings!
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.