Imagine you, center stage, finger poised over the “buy” button for your one-way plane ticket to JFK. No spotlight, no glow-in-the-dark gaff tape, no whispered cues in the wings. Just you and your almost-ticket. You’ve sold your car. Half your stuff is in storage or at a friend’s house. The rest is packed into three bags. If you’re the kind of person to make lists, you’ve got dozens. If not, they’re scrawled there in your head: files on mental files of the pros and cons of moving to New York City to get your acting career started.
It’s a big move. I repeat, it’s a big move. But you knew this. Even without the gentle worry-prodding of your family (New York City? But it’s so expensive!), your friends (so, you wanna be on, like, Broadway?), your fellow acting friends (if you do it, you should meet up with my roommate’s sister’s best friend from third grade, she had a line in “SVU”!), and just about every other person you might have mentioned your maybe-sort-of dream to. You’re not the first to make the call, and you certainly won’t be the last. But you still can’t help but wonder: Is it worth it?
There’s no easy answer to this question, and even if there were, that answer would probably be different for you than it is for your best friend from high school, or your neighbor, or even your sibling. What it comes down to is you and where you are: in your life, your career goals, and yes, your financial status.
We do, however, have a couple of pointers to help you make the decision.
- NYC is widely considered the theater capital of the world. It’s most definitely the reigning champ in the US. Picturing yourself taking a bow before a live audience every night? New York could be the place for you.
- No car needed! Unlike certain other cities where you’ll be putting down money for rent and car insurance/gas (looking at you, L.A.), NYC has a mostly amazing public transit system. If you’re careful, you can save that money towards a Broadway show or two.
- Opportunities are everywhere. When people think of acting in New York, they often think of Broadway. But film and television play major roles in the city’s acting industry ecosystem, and any theater nerd cityside can tell you there are whole neighborhoods (considered off-off Broadway) where every third building is a tiny new theater, often with companies performing throughout the year. Looking to get your foot in the door? Check out the West Village. Plenty of doors to be found.
- New York City is expensive. In fact, cost of living tends to be one of the main reasons residents (especially artists) have a hard time finding their feet in the city. Living in one of the main boroughs without consistent work can be tricky, and if acting will be your main source of income, feeling overwhelmed may rapidly become the norm. Of course, people do it every day—just be ready for a challenge.
- Opportunities. Are. Everywhere. The good news? You can always find an audition. The bad news? So can everyone else. Fortunately, you’ve got a headstart with Backstage. Lucky you!
These are just a few things to consider in planning your New York move. But ultimately, it comes down to you. Are you the kind of person invigorated by a new challenge, or intimidated by one? New York may not be as rude as people say, but it is fast, tough, and relentless. There are days it’ll roll right over you without looking back because frankly, it never even saw you standing there. Sometimes—most times—it can take a while to find your feet. But you don’t always have to have both feet on the ground to have fun, and we artsy types tend to learn best with our heads up in the clouds, anyway.
If nothing else, it’s definitely got the best view.
Check out Backstage’s New York City audition listings!