Wait, don’t think this post ONLY applies to you if you’re actually physically NOT in L.A. 🙂 If you grew up 100 miles from London, but are now IN London as an actor or you’re from Perth and you’ve moved all the way to Sydney and/or any other tiny small area but you’ve chosen to move yourself to “the big city” this applies to you. Way back in the mid-90s Icame up with this as a title to a new Topical discussion I was presenting at The Actors’ Network. I only did it then because I was so concerned with what I saw mentally from so many of the members who were coming in related to “being in L.A.” per say. What I mean by this is ALL of the things that are “not related” to entertainment but to life. Now please allow me to be clear that I, as you would imagine, in no way am discussing that everything in life “should be easy” or always comfortable. Great success, in anything, typically comes from a healthy combination of natural talent, learned talent/skill, dedication, sacrifice, work ethic and consistency of all the above over a number of years.
However, when it comes to the “big city” or the bigger marketplace there are simple realities that you MUST face in your move there when you’re trying to maximize a career or maximize your potential “earning income” which is typically the reason we make career MOVES like that in any profession. If you wish to be a certain level Professor and be known and get paid at a certain level then there are going to be Universities you simply HAVE to be teaching at to achieve that status or income and they’re not likely in a small town. So be clear that I’m not discussing the value of L.A., in terms of what it provides an actor as potential, I’m asking “why are you in L.A., because of YOU.
If you’re in L.A. (or the applicable metaphor for the “big city/marketplace” you’ve moved yourself or your child to) simply because it provides the best opportunity for you to RISE up in the performance profession as it relates to stardom and money…ok, but there are severe dangers to that. Even worse or more important, in my opinion, is how your surroundings affects you and your mentality. Unfortunately the “big city” isn’t for everyone and the reality is if it is not a happy place for you…why stay? Listen, again, I’m not advocating that you don’t try, that you don’t follow your dreams, that you don’t make a run at the big time or if nothing else leave “no regrets” or wonder about it. I’m all for that for sure. But the title is “Why are you in L.A.?” It doesn’t say why did you come, why did you try, why do you like acting or why did you wanna give it a shot.
Just realize (and I recommend that you re-watch the original Wall St. with Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen) that sometimes it just simply “isn’t for you.” You don’t want the big city to severely change you because 99.9% of people don’t reach “high success” or celebrity status in this business and probably 75% of them at some point head back home. You don’t want to go home or even remain in the big city and be a shell of your former self. So truly ask yourself, “Why am I in L.A.” and so long as you can give yourself a healthy assessment of the challenge, that you can find at least an equal number of positives there are for you as a person…as there are the negatives and so long as you’re still 100% committed to whatever venue/city is applicable…then stay. But STAY aware of this question…because when it is time to go (if it comes to that) you don’t want to linger.
There are dozens of ways to enjoy being a performer and even making some money at it or using those “performance skills” to make a living in other industries and rise above others who don’t have those skills. It just doesn’t necessarily mean that you were meant to do it in the monster/major market because no one will come out a winner if you don’t survive it. I LOVE risk takers but I also love great self-awareness. Only you know!
Always on your side. @TheKevinE