Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Right Time to Move to LA

Another question from a blog reader!
I feel like it's probably every aspiring actor's first instinct to move to LA, as it was mine. However, I already live in a city with a smaller but rapidly growing film industry - Atlanta.

Since finishing law school this summer, I've been auditioning like crazy and have booked lead and supporting roles in several low budget productions so far, trying to get a demo reel together to show to some agencies, and I plan to take every acting class I can in the next year.

As I'm sure you know, many Hollywood movies and television shows are filmed here now. After getting an agent, I want to start shooting for small roles in these productions and hopefully some stronger roles in cool independent films.

Moving to LA at this point would be pretty crazy, right? While Atlanta is not a small pond either, I do figure I have a better chance at getting noticed here and then working my way up to bigger things than I would if I just cold moved to Los Angeles.

What's your take on this? When is the right time to make the move? Is there a right time?

~ Barrett
Thanks for your thoughtful question, Barrett! Atlanta is definitely an up and coming market for entertainment production. It's the Hollywood of the South!

Your dilemma is one I know well, having also started my acting career in a regional market - Boston.

The wisdom making the rounds among Beantown actors back then was - "Don't move to LA (or NY) until something takes you there." - i.e., an agent, a film role, etc. Sound, logical advice. Like you mentioned, why leave a pond where you're booking for a larger pond in which you're the little fish?

Alas, I was not a big fish in Boston. I was blessed to work on a handful of student films, indie projects, and industrial videos to get my resume started, plus take a few acting classes to build my skill set, but I was not booking anywhere near what my colleagues were.

I was juggling four children's/educational theater jobs just to make ends meet and getting told over and over after stage auditions that they liked my talent, but weren't going for "ethnic." As an Asian-American actor, I realized I would have much more opportunity working in TV and film, and that meant moving to LA.

So I think the bottom line is this - go where the opportunities are! For me, that was LA. If you're finding enough opportunity in Atlanta to keep you satisfied, then stay. When you reach a point where what's available to you is not enough, then go where you can find more opportunity. You'll know when the time is right.

Break a leg, Barrett!


  1. Thank you for your response! That's great advice. And it's interesting that you actually booked more roles when you moved to LA than you did in the "small pond" of Boston. Though like you said, circumstances can be different for different people, depending on the market where one lives. It seems like it's not necessarily the case that if you're not cutting it in a regional market, you won't in LA either. It really all depends. The best you can do is go where the opportunities are,


    1. Exactly - everyone's decision will be different because everyone's career is different. But there are definitely opportunities everywhere - that's the blessing of working in entertainment - there are always new projects on the horizon! :)

  2. Yes, Thanks so much for this Teresa! We've talked before and my situation is so similar to yours. It is so discouraging to have so many people in the business out here in Boston say dont make the move until you've exhausted all opportunities here. Well, I am not headlining in anything out here either!!! I've taken classes, been in student films, I have a great acting coach.. but if i followed there advice and also the advice of people not in the business who say dont do it until you have all your bills paid and a ton of money saved, I'd never be ready to make the move!! I am hearing that a ton of stuff is filmed in New York now, more so than in CA... is this true?

    Thanks again,

    1. There IS a lot more filming in NYC than there was when I decided to leave Boston. It could be a good move for you! There's a lot of advice out there, but I think ultimately you have to make a choice that feels right for you. Leaving the small pond worked for me! :)