July 18, 2015

Moving From New York City to Los Angeles (Part 2)

Part 2 | What I've Learned So Far

If you want to know the steps I took to make the big move, make sure to read Part 1. The following are things I've learned these past couple of years, in no particular order:

The Work & The Competition

When it comes to acting, there is SO MUCH work to be had in Los Angeles!! I realized very early on that, in that regard, I'd made the right decision to move. However, the competition is FIERCE y'all!! I mean, I'm walking into audition rooms, and I'm signing in behind girls that have starred in TV shows already, or are heavily recurring on shows, and doing huge supporting roles in films. These are the actors that have been out here for years pounding the pavement and establishing themselves.

I learned that my handful of credits that I'd earned in NYC would help me get in the door, but that was it. There are so many actors with incredible bodies of work that I'm still trying to attain for myself. Obviously, over these past couple of years I've grown my resume and I'm so grateful for the successes I've had and the knowledge that I've gained being out here. I know that as long as I keep my tenacity and ambition high, I will continue to achieve higher levels of success.

Finding a Serving Job + Making Tips

Fucking impossible.

Okay, not impossible, but soooo hard!! When I moved here, I had almost 10 years of restaurant experience but it's like none of that matters out here. And even if it did, there are so many actors vying for those serving jobs that it makes it so much harder to get a leg up.

One thing that I've noticed is that a lot of restaurants out here don't have high turnover like places in NYC do. It's so easy to get a job in NYC that there's no point in staying at a place that sucks. But here in LA, because it's so hard to find a good serving/bartending job, people stay at shitty places for way longer than they normally would while they try to find a better spot. And even if you do find a new spot, you don't quit the old place until you're sure the new one will work out.

Last week, I had drinks at a place that I stopped working at a year and half ago, and almost all of the same servers that were there when I was there, are STILL working there. On a sad note, I think that also speaks to just how difficult it is to find success, despite just how much acting work there is. One of the servers that I saw at that restaurant was signed to CAA when I was working with him back at the end of 2013. He had just left that agency to go to Innovative. I'm sure he's working here and there, but he's still waiting tables. It's crazy what we actors go through!!

Anyway. I've also found that a lot of managers don't like to see long periods of time between jobs. Like anything longer than a couple of months is a red flag to them. I have no idea why, it's just what I've run into.

Also, give up on the idea that you will make NYC money out here. The days of walking with $300+ per shift are over once you move to LA. Don't get me wrong, there are places where you can make that much money, but they are fewer and farther between than in NYC. The best I've had so far is an average of about $180-$220 per night. My other friends that work as servers say the same.

And lastly, make sure you have good craft beer knowledge. It's all about craft beers and micro breweries out here.

You Can Easily Spend Through Your Savings Quickly

Keep in mind, we came with a bit under $7k. I also got lucky in that I found a crappy serving job right away and booked a recurring guest star within two months of our move. What was tough was it took my husband about 8 months to find a really good job. If you move here with significantly more than that, start booking right away or find a good job right away, you should be fine. However, if you don't plan on working a survival job right away, I would save as much as possible, and try your best to live frugally.

There is no set number that I can tell you that you MUST bring with you. Some people move here with next to nothing and land on their feet just fine. I would RECOMMEND no less than $5k. That is in addition to moving expenses and 1st month's rent/security.



FUCK Casting Networks/LACasting

Fuck. Them.

I only have an account with them because I have to for my commercial and print agencies. It's the #1 site for commercial/print castings out here. You get 1 free photo per agency. If you have different agencies, you have to have a separate account for each one, but can link them under one profile.

They charge $25 to upload a second photo, and $15 for each additional photo. But ONLY if you upload them all at the same time. Otherwise, it's $25 per photo. Also, they charge an additional $10 to "copy" that photo to other accounts.

So, I have an account with CESD and paid $150 to upload 9 photos. But, if I want to use a couple of those photos for my AKA account, I have to pay them $10 each to "copy" it over. So, as I said before...

Fuck. Them.

Driving & Learning Your Way Around

You don't need to get a car with GPS, just make sure it has Blue Tooth capabilities so you can sync it with your phone. Then, download Google Maps. I use GM for EVERYTHING. I just plug the address into GM and it tells me exactly where I need to go, give me different route options including how long each route will take, heavy traffic areas, and I can have the voice navigation turned on or off. A lot of people also love Waze because it's updated in real time by other drivers, so you get minute to minute updates on heavy traffic, accidents, police presence, etc. It's a little too cluttered for me, so I stick to Google Maps.

You're really only going to learn your way around by being active and spending a lot of time being social, trying out new places, and just exploring. Just like it took you a few months to learn the subway system by rote in NYC, it'll take a few months to learn the best routes for your day to day, backstreets and when traffic is generally at it's heaviest in which area.

And finally, many drivers out here SUCK. People are rude, reckless, and don't pay attention on the road. Every day I see someone text and driving. One time, I was driving down the freeway and, for some reason, the middle lane was moving really slow, while the other lanes were wide open. I got over into a different lane, and as I was able to speed up, I saw that the middle lane was slow because a guy was driving while reading a script at the same time. He was so distracted that he'd slowed down to about 30mph. On the freeway. I kid you not.



Traffic & Time Management

Traffic. Just surrender to it. You can never completely avoid it and it will hit you when you least expect it. You'll eventually learn how much time you need to give yourself to get to certain areas, and sometimes you'll still screw yourself, lol. I currently live in Hollywood. So, if I have a 9AM audition in Santa Monica, I need to leave no later than 8AM if I want to make it in time. If that audition is at 2PM, I can probably leave at 1:30PM and be just fine. It just depends, but I'll always need at least 30 minutes to get from my house to Santa Monica. It's trial and error.

And my God, don't let it rain! This town comes to a fucking standstill when it rains. People seriously can't handle driving in the rain. Every street has crazy traffic so give yourself extra time to get where you need when it rains. Yes, it rains. A few times a year, lol.

Parking & Parking Tickets (Yes, they go hand in hand)

When you find an apartment, make sure it comes with a parking space. Some places charge a monthly rental fee for a space, but many don't. If the parking space is in a garage or requires remote access, you may have to put down a deposit for the remote.

If your apartment doesn't come with a parking spot, you will have to depend on street parking which can be a pain or impossible depending on your neighborhood. Then you'll be dealing with street cleaning times (a random 2 hour window where you can't park on a specific side of the street), 2 hour parking (you can only park there for 2 hours before having to move your car), and a host of other annoying restrictions. Some neighborhoods have permit parking where only those with a permit can park there after certain times. If you're eyeing an apartment in a permit parking neighborhood, make sure that you will be able to apply for one.

When it comes to street parking on meters or time restricted streets in residential neighborhoods. Make sure to read the signs carefully!! Some of the signs are really tricky. Most meters take coins and cards. Don't think that you can only pay with quarters at street meters, they take every type of coin. I may be wrong about pennies, but I've put plenty of nickels and dimes into meters. I keep a coin purse in my glove box. I hate using my card if I only need to park for a short amount of time.

With that said....YOU WILL GET PARKING TICKETS. It will happen. Accept it, embrace it, surrender to it. Just pay them as soon as you can because if you pay them late, they tack on fees. You also can't renew your car registration with outstanding parking tickets. Too many unpaid tickets, and the Gestapo LAPD will issue a warrant for your arrest. I've also seen people get their cars impounded. Can you image leaving your house for an audition that you're already running a bit behind on and your car is nowhere to be found!? All because you wouldn't pay a couple $55 tickets. Not worth it.

Uber & Lyft Are a MUST (What's a Taxi?)

If you drink alcohol, you need to download Uber/Lyft onto your phone. I'm not sure the cost benefit for Uber vs a taxi in NYC, but out here, Uber and Lyft are the cheaper and more convenient options for you plan on having a night (or day) out drinking and partying and need to get home safely.

The Weather & Scenery Is As Beautiful As You've Heard

Really. It is. The incredible weather makes this such a great place to live if you have an active lifestyle. You can pretty much go to the beach any day of the year. I was laying out by the pool in February. However, the ocean water is always cold.  Even in the summer. And the breeze/wind gets cold at night, especially in the beach cities. It can be in the 80s during the day in Santa Monica and in the 50s before the sun even sets. Coming from NYC, you're probably thinking, "That's nothing!" But trust me, the first time you're in Santa Monica wearing shorts and tank top and then nightfall hits and you don't have anything to cover up with, you will remember these words.

As for the landscape, you have ocean a few miles West, but then you're a two hour drive from snow covered mountains. You can lay on the beach on Friday morning, and be skiing at Big Bear Mountain that evening. Just taking a drive up the Pacific Coast Highway affords endless ocean views to your left, and mountain views to your right.

There are tons and tons of national parks all over LA. And the options for hiking are incredible. I live 3 minutes away from Griffith Park and the legendary Griffith Observatory. I can hike up the mountain and then get rewarded with this view that I snapped on my iPhone:


You see those clear skies? If you have even the slightest outdoorsy spirit, you don't have go very far to experience the beauty of SoCal nature.

And Finally

It Gets Easier

If you weren't born and raised in NYC, then you know how hard it was to get adjusted when you first moved there. The same can be said when moving to LA. It was a culture shock for me. I missed the hustle and bustle of NYC. The Energy. The fact that bars in NYC stay open till 4AM. Everything closes at 2AM out here, FYI. I was feeling disconnected from people because I was spending so much time in my car, and I just never knew what to expect each day due to being completely immersed in a new environment.

I had like, no friends. Seriously, I only knew one person when I moved here, other than my husband. But I was pretty much alone the first few weeks until he got here.

However, as you begin to explore, enroll in classes, join a new gym, and start putting yourself out there, you'll start to feel at home. Pretty soon, you'll know that the Ralph's on Western carries your favorite Dry sodas, always take Fountain Avenue to get to commercial castings at Castaway Studios on Beverly, and since adding extra lanes, the 405 isn't as bad as it was. You'll start establishing relationships with people and will make new friends.

Then, before you know it, you'll be giving advice to people who are ready to make the big move themselves.

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So, I tried to be as thorough as possible, but I'm sure there are things that I forgot. If there's anything that I've left out or you're curious to know, leave a comment below and let me know! If I get enough interesting questions or suggestions, I'll compile them into a Part 3.

Thanks for reading!!


7 comments:

  1. Hi Andrea! Thanks so much for all of this info! I actually just visited LA last week for a film festival, and couldn't stay long, but fell completely in love with it. I'm a native New Yorker who lives on Long Island and is planning to move into the city this year, however, I can definitely see myself moving to LA down the line (and once I build up some of my credits). One of the main things that makes me scared of leaving New York is that I know the acting studios I like. So, as for my question, what are some popular TV/Film studios in LA that either you go to or people you know enjoy? :)

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    1. Hi Michelle! Thanks for reading! Out here, you can throw a rock and hit an acting studio, so there really is something for everyone. You just have to research and audit classes. No different that how you discovered your favorite places in NYC, I'm sure.

      I've studied at Anthony Meindl's Actor Workshop since I moved here and love it there. Other studios that I hear about are Diana Castle, Annie Grindlay, Howard Fine, Scott Sedita, Ivana Chubbuk, and many more. I may have misspelled some names, but you'll get the jist, haha.

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    2. Hi Andrea! Thanks for the info! So excited to see you're blogging again since I love reading your posts. :)

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  2. Very excited to see you blogging again. I have been lurking for like a year, and when you hadnt posted in a while, I started lurking on your instagram. You are gorgeous and I am so glad you are doing the most in L.A. I just moved here (finally) so this post was super timely!

    Cheers,
    Miatta

    iknowwhythecagedsingereats.wordpress.com

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    1. I'm so sorry for the late reply. I always forget to check my filtered comments.

      Thank you so much for reading, I appreciate it. Thank you for the compliment! And welcome to LA!

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  3. I absolutely love you blog, and these last two posts are probably my favorites. I hope more people discover your blog, you could monetize it and start making some bank. It's a great resource and a great read.

    I would love to hear your experience specifically as a black actress in L.A. and New York. And about living in L.A. as a black woman.

    Thanks

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    1. Aww thanks! My blog is monetized, but it would probably be more successful if I blogged more often, haha. I'm going to try to stay on top of it so keep reading!

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