It’s the age old question: I want to be an actor. Should I move to Los Angeles? Yes, of course you should…at some point. The question is when and how do you know? As someone who has moved there…then left…then moved back…and now floats in and out, I have a few suggestions as to how you can decide on when it is time to move to the epicenter of entertainment.
1. When you can’t get any bigger at home. It’s no accident that NBA players like LeBron James are highly recruited as early as elementary school. One way or another, the cream rises to the top. A good indication you are someone who will do well in L.A. is if you are attracting a lot of attention right now. Work as hard as you possibly can and make connections where you live. Once you start to feel your status changing from, “What’s your name again?” to “You would be perfect for this,” it might be time to bust a move.
2. Because you need to grow up. Sometimes the only way we can really grow is by leaving the nest. Some of us are so surrounded by love, we never get exposed to anything that can hurt us and you have to experience adversity to understand it and entertainment is the personification of adversity. Conflict is the reason for creativity. A happy ending doesn’t mean much if it wasn’t the result of a struggle, the harder the better. Art of course, imitates life. A cocooned life is not really worth living. You were born to thrive, so if you are not thriving at home, and you want to be an actor, there’s no faster place to grow up than cray-cray L.A.
3. People want what they can’t have. If you live in another place and you are doing really well, people in L.A. already want you. There’s no better reason to pick up the phone than to tell someone who matters that you are really talented and that you are moving to town and you would like to meet. Everyone likes a scoop so if your “people” can convince them you are a hot property, they will roll out the red carpet for you. This works even better in reverse. Become hot in L.A. and people will lose their minds over you in other places. When I booked my first “Top 10” TV credits, I went up to Vancouver and they treated me like the Second Coming of Marlon Brando. I am not the Second Coming of Marlon Brando, but it was fun while it lasted!
4. The weather. There is no denying that Los Angeles has some of the best weather on the planet. It’s rarely too hot or too cold and it is sunny so much that most people get depressed at the mere mention of a cloud, let alone the sight of one. If you are a sufferer of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or you’re just a hypochondriac, you may find it hard it to be sad in such a beautiful place. Palm trees are everywhere, and everyone is filled with enthusiasm and promise. The euphoria is fueled by solar-powered vitamin D and there is an unending supply. Careful, though: One drive down Sunset Boulevard and you may never want to move back to your dreary, rain-soaked home again, so bring your loved ones with you.
5. To feel your first earthquake. It won’t be long. Yes, I just said earthquake. It’s not just a reputation. Earthquakes are pretty common in L.A. I’m not talking about big ones—more like, you feel something and you’re wondering if a truck just went by, so you look around you at the local Starbucks (where you have decided to become a writer because acting ain’t exactly working out) with the “Was that just an earthquake?” look. Yes, the ink cartridge on “ye olde seismograph” is in constant need of refills, if you know what I mean. So if you’ve ever wondered what a real earthquake feels like, move to L.A. It won’t be long before you “feel the earth move under your feet.”
6. Because you don’t know enough actors. Most of us grew up in places where acting is kind of a weird thing to do. It’s certainly not a career choice because we have no idea who would pay us to do it. If we do decide to become actors, we are singled out, mocked, and completely misunderstood because, to the masses, acting is weird. Move to L.A. and you can’t swing a cat without hitting an actor. It’s a really great feeling to be surrounded by people who understand you and your struggle. The temptation can be to surround yourself with actor friends. Resist that temptation. Too many actors is like too much ice cream. (Is that even possible?) You are not in the acting industry. You’re in the entertainment industry, so to be politically correct, diversify. No, I’m not talking about the Rainbow Coalition. I’m talking about finding friends who do other things like producers, editors, etc. and you will be far more likely to eventually get paid for your acting.
7. Because anything goes in L.A. If you feel like you are just way too rad for your hometown, then move to L.A., as in now. In the City of Angels, anything goes. The mantra of L.A. is, “There’s no such thing as a bad idea.” People are so supportive and it is the home of the dreamer. So if that describes you, you will love it there. The caveat here is that, while by your hometown standards you are a wide-eyed dreamer, by L.A. standards you might be a fundamentalist and you suddenly find yourself surrounded by whack-jobs with no idea what they are talking about. All the better to make you feel grounded.
8. You want to help create pop culture. Almost every trend that has existed over the last 50 years has come out of California, and in particular, Los Angeles. The Frisbee, the hula-hoop, skateboards, cupcakes, fro-yo, macaroons, Vans, the catalytic converter, Paris Hilton, the Kardashians, the “Real Housewives,” and so on. If it’s new and crazy, it’s happening in Los Angeles and even if they didn't invent it, they will turn it into a craze (that’s old school for “trending”). Every day it seems you will see something you have never heard of that you think is probably the worst idea you have ever heard, and the next thing you know, everyone has one. Speaking of which, I’m waiting for the fanny pack to make a comeback. Anyone?
9. You find time-stopping traffic relaxing. Yes, L.A. traffic is legendary and with good reason. While there are good times to drive in L.A., the problem is they are never the same. One day you hop on “the 10” at 5 p.m. and you’re cruising, and the next day you could swear your hair grew an inch between freeway exits. Traffic can be a blessing to actors. It’s one of the few times you are completely alone with your thoughts. You can work on your emotional preparation, memorize lines, record ideas, practice singing, and do a muscle-clenching isotonic workout, all within the absolute non-privacy of your barely moving automobile. While other cities may have bad or even worse traffic, Los Angeles is the original.
10. Because you are really hot. If you are startlingly hot, L.A. is your place. You will never feel alone again. There are more of your kind here than anywhere. L.A. is the epicenter of hotness. Hot people from all over the world flock here and then they reproduce. I’'s like the Fountain of Hot. Even if you aren’t that hot now, you might actually get hotter by moving here. At first, you will feel ugly, but everyone else is looking so good, you will be motivated to work out, eat right, buy new clothes, and get a sweet pair of shades. In no time, your hotness score will rise by at least two points. I am totally loving my new life as a four!
11. Because you're an actor. Let’s face it, if you ever want to be known outside your hometown, you’re coming to L.A. at some point. Even if you want to be on Broadway, a good way to do that is becoming famous in L.A. first. Once you’re famous, you can do pretty much anything you want. So, just get it over with. Move and experience all the joy and pain that L.A. can bring. There’s simply nothing like it. Not even close. I love it whether I’m struggling or on a hot streak. Nowhere else can you go to a movie and ask the stars themselves about their preparation. We have the Academy Awards for crying out loud, Warner Bros. Studios, Disney, HBO, the beach, the Lakers, the Kings, the mountains, the sea, and the most amazing restaurants on the planet…as well as some of the nicest people. So if you really, really, really want to be an actor, you might as well start packing because L.A. is to actors what Kansas was to Dorothy—home sweet home.