The City of Angels

Los Angeles Skyline

I was recently reading these posts by my friend and gifted casting director Cathy Reinking about moving to L.A. or New York and it got me thinking…

As I look back to when I was deciding whether to stay in Colorado or move to one of the big three (L.A., New York City, or Chicago), I realize that there was a lot of noise, and not that much good information. Everyone I talked to had their own opinion, but there wasn’t much reason or logic behind what they were saying. With that in mind, I’m going to try and share some of the wisdom I’ve gathered in roughly 9 months in L.A. Hopefully Joe and Emily can provide some of their insight into NYC and Chi-town.

L.A. is awesome…

…though maybe not for everyone. I love L.A. I love the people, the culture, the food. All of it. Is there traffic? Sure (see below). But there are also a bazillion authentic restaurants of every kind, museums, skyscrapers, the ocean, clubs, and the list goes on.

I have also noticed that #1 reason people don’t like L.A. is related to community. If you don’t find/establish a community, you will be unhappy. If you don’t have cool/fun/invigorating people in your life, you won’t like where you’re living. Duh. It has little to do with L.A. itself, besides that fact that the city is so spread out, it takes that much more effort to see people.

There is an insane amount of opportunity here

I often heart people talk about how moving to Los Angeles is scary or a bad move because there are so many other actors here. While I suppose that’s true, it has been mind boggling to experience how many things are being filmed at any given time in this city. The number of short films, student films, commercials, TV shows, etc. being put on tape at any given second in this city is nuts.

I started focusing on film (rather than stage) my senior year of college. From then until I moved here I bet I went on something like 40 – 50 auditions…maybe. I did a smattering of short films, feature films, and commercials over the course of about 2 years. In the first 3 months that I started actually submitting myself here (the first few months after I moved here were spent doing other business stuff and getting settled) I went on just under 80 auditions. Eighty. I doubled my film resume in that time and have now worked on almost 20 projects in L.A.

While those numbers certainly have a little to do with my look, resume, skills, etc., I’m a nobody here. I don’t have an agent, had never been on a legit TV show, and wasn’t in any of the unions. There is a shit-ton (actual number) of opportunity here.

The traffic sucks

True story. Get over it. If that’s a deal breaker for you, then I guess you weren’t meant to make it in TV or film.

And yes, you do need a car.

The weather is righteous

Yet another true story. If you hate always-72-and-sunny weather you will be sorely disappointed with the temperate climate.

The competition will kill you

Ok, whomever is spreading this rumor should be flogged. Yes, there are a ton of actors here. Yes, there are lots of people who look just like you. Yes, there are tons of beautiful people. Yes, there are lots of very talented actors. No, there are not enough jobs for everyone. BUT…

  1. The actors here are nice. I haven’t met a single actor who was discouraging towards me or didn’t help in any way they could. People want to help others. They want to help you succeed, because then you might return the favor. We’re artists, we’re in this together.
  2. 80% of the “actors” here aren’t taking the business seriously. This was definitely the most shocking part of moving here. Most “actors” here don’t have training, are using black and white headshots, don’t treat acting like a business, or spend only a few hours a week in pursuit of the career. If you’re one of these people that’s totally fine…you definitely have a better shot of making here than somewhere else. My point is that the mere commitment of 20+ hours/week pursuing an acting career here will put you far beyond the vast majority of actors in this city.

Access to resources

This city is built on making money off of actors, which leads to some scams, but more than anything provides myriad resources for actors. From classes to business organizations, whatever you need to further your career is here.

No one cares what you did elsewhere

I guess this was somewhat of a blessing for me, but it really doesn’t matter what you’ve done if it wasn’t in Los Angeles. One notable exception is studying with Second City in Chicago, or being in legit, Broadway shows, but even then… Unless the things on your resume are currently airing on NBC, people don’t really care.

This absolutely does not mean that having things on a resume, building a reel, or honing your craft in other cities is useless, it just means that everyone moving here is starting at square one.

I can’t tell you how many people suggested staying on a smaller city to “build up a resume.” While this isn’t total BS, it’s generally just an excuse to hold yourself back. If it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in another city, why not build up your resume here? There’s far more opportunities to do so.


I was rather shocked to find that I am very young relative to the majority of actors taking the business seriously. Under 25 seems to be “young” in this city. If you’re under that age people don’t really expect you to have done anything. If you’re older than that, just know that it might be that much harder.

In Conclusion

What I would say to those of you thinking about moving here? Do it. Don’t put it off.

L.A. is a great place to live, and you can live like a king (my apartment complex) for half the money you might spend in other big cities. If you have any real desire to make money from your acting (and there is great reason not to have that as a goal), you’re going to have to move here at some point. What are you waiting for?

Ben Whitehair is the Los Angeles contingent of this blog. Find out more information and view his materials on his website, or read the rest of his blog posts.